Natural sleep aids: the calming effect of plants

Natürliche Schlafmittel: 8 beruhigende Pflanzen Natürliche Schlafmittel: 8 beruhigende Pflanzen

What can be done when sleep just doesn't want to come? Natural sleep aids help: they are calming and have comparatively few side effects.

Around 200'000 people in Switzerland take sleep aids every day or nearly every day. Acc­ording to «Addiction Monitoring Switzerland», benzodiazepines or similar drugs are particularly popular. Many of them carry the risk of becoming addictive and have side effects – especially if they're taken regularly. Herbal products can be a good alternative.

8 natural sleep aids at a glance

Valerian root

As the classic among home remedies, it is said that the bitter-tasting valerian root is guaranteed to take effect if the dosage is high enough (about 6 grams). However, the result is only felt after a few days, which is why valerian is combined with faster-acting ingredients in most herbal sleep medications. On the other hand, the effect is long-lasting which is why the root is an ideal sedative.

Hops

Whether as an essential oil or as hop flower tea, the calming effect of hops has found favour for centuries, and works best combined with lemon balm and valerian.

Lemon balm

Not only anti-inflammatory but also calming, it is no surprise that lemon balm is an ingredient in many herbal sleep aids.

Milk with honey

On the one hand, it is simply the warmth of the milk that makes the body feel tired. On the other, milk also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. With the addition of honey, which stimulates the production of tryptophan, the milky drink is therefore a good combination for restful sleep. It’s not only because of the effect of tryptophan that the night cap is recommended by sleep experts. If drinking a cup of milk with honey becomes an evening ritual, the body automatically sets itself to sleep mode and becomes tired.

Almonds

Almond milk or almonds themselves contain melatonin. This is a sleep hormone that, released by the body as soon as it gets dark, makes us tired. Even though the sleep-promoting effect of almonds hasn't been proven in isolation, they are a healthy source of magnesium and calcium. These substances relax the muscles and, together with melatonin, ensure that we sleep well.

Oats, the medicinal plant of the year 2017, and passionflower have a similar effect and also help us fall asleep more easily.

Lavender

The effect of lavender is based mainly on the fact that certain aromas have a relaxing and calming effect. The scent of the essential oil alone is said to be slumber-inducing. Although this may not work with everyone, it's definitely worth a try.

Other scents can also be used: a pillow made of pleasantly scented pine wood chips is already a permanent feature in many people’s bedrooms.

Side effects?

In the form of tea, natural sleep aids are harmless – even for pregnant women and children. Herbal sleeping aids are mainly used to treat mild sleep disorders. In the case of severe sleep disorders, even taking natural sleeping aids should be discussed with a doctor.

Curing sleep disorders in the long term

Natural sleep aids can help sleep disorders in the short term. In the long term, however, they can only be cured by identifying and resolving the root causes.

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