Good sleep is essential to our lives, however, almost 55% of the elderly people suffer from insomnia. In ancient times herbal teas were used to treat sleep problems and in recent years, numerous scientific and medical researches that has been published supports their action, either directly on sleep (via sedation), or indirectly, by reducing stress and mind-activity.
This issue of Circadin News will be reviewing few kinds of herbal teas that promote better sleep and are backed by research.
- Chamomile 1
it has been used as a natural remedy to reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety and treat insomnia. Its sleep-inducing effects may be attributed to apigenin, a molecule that is known to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective , mood and sleep enhancing properties.
A study from Taiwan with 80 post-partum women who had poor sleep quality found that those who drank chamomile tea daily for just a 2-week period reported overall better sleep quality and less depression than those who received usual care only.
- Valerian Root 3
Valerian is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat problems like insomnia, nervousness and headaches.
Researchers are not entirely sure how valerian root works to improve sleep, but it has been found to prevent the degradation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), thus inducing sedation.
A study in 128 people found those who received 400mg of valerian root reported a decrease in the time it took them to fall asleep, fewer nighttime awakenings and overall improved sleep quality, compared to those who did not receive the extract. Additionally, people taking an extract of valerian did not suffer from “hangover” effect the following day.
- Lemon balm 4
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), is an aromatic herb that belongs to the mint family and is found all over the world. This citrus-scented herb has been used for reducing stress and improving sleep since the middle ages.
A study in mice showed that lemon balm increases GABA levels and reduces Corticosterone (stress hormone). A human study showed a 42% reduction in insomnia symptoms after participants who suffered from mild-to-moderate anxiety with sleep disturbances received 600mg of lemon balm extract per day for 15 days.
- Lavender 6
Lavender is an aromatic, yet soothing herb and in ancient times, Greeks and Romans would often add lavender to their drawn baths and breathe in the calming fragrance. In addition, it has known as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and other properties. Research in Taiwan with 80 post-natal women who took time to smell the aroma of it and then drink lavender tea daily for 2 weeks suffered from less fatigue and depression, compared to those who did not drink lavender tea.
To summarize, there are many kinds of herbal teas that can help patients who suffer from sleep issues. Much of today’s research with herbs is being conducted using extracts, rather than teas, as they are easier to consume and quantifiable. However, results are encouraging and you may want to consider recommending them in addition to medication and other life-style and nutritional advice.