Natural sleep aids: the soothing effects of plants


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.

Use the power of plants to combat insomnia

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.

Discover natural sleep aids

Natural sleep aids offer a healthy alternative to pharmaceuticals, as they harness the calming effect of plants.

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. But because valerian has a long-term effect, it’s well-suited as a sedative – taken for example in the form of a valerian root tea.


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

Lemon balm is not only anti-inflammatory but also calming. It therefore comes as no surprise that lemon balm is a component of many herbal sleeping pills. But a natural lemon balm tea in the evening also has a sleep-inducing effect.


The effect of lavender is based mainly on the fact that certain aromas are relaxing and calming. The scent of the essential oil alone is said to be slumber-inducing. Although this may not work for everyone, it's definitely worth a try. Test it out with a soothing lavender bath. It's not only calming but also anti-inflammatory.

Prepare a natural night cap yourself

This natural nightcap contains four different herbs and can be enhanced by adding honey or milk to taste.

50g valerian root
25g hop flowers
25g lemon balm leaves
25g lavender leaves

Mix one tablespoon of the dried herbal mixture with 200ml of hot water and infuse for 10 minutes. When the tea has cooled down a bit, flavour it according to preference: with honey, dairy milk, almond milk, oat milk or cinnamon, for example.

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.


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, as medicinal plant of the year 2017, and passion flower have a similar effect and therefore also help us to sleep.

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

Side effects of natural sleep aids

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

The consequences of sleep deprivation are far-reaching. Among other things, lack of sleep has a negative effect on reaction times and decision-making ability. 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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