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From infancy to adulthood, sleep plays an essential role in our everyday life. When we sleep, our bodies and minds can recharge, allowing our immune system to function more effectively, our minds to be clearer, and our moods to be balanced.

Lack of sleep can contribute to both mental and physical imbalances, such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, poor memory, low energy, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke.

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be triggered by many factors:

1. The environment, including too much light in your bedroom and loud noises , can interfere with sleep.

2. Sleep is greatly influenced by mental health, and many people who struggle with stress or depression may have difficulty falling asleep. Your (body) and mind must be able to unwind sufficiently to support sleep.

3. Physical issues such as pain or itching make it difficult for the body and mind to relax.

4. Sleep disorders have been linked to diseases such as high blood pressure, Parkinson's, IBS, and GERD.

5. A poor diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can increase the likelihood of developing sleep problems.

Sleep Through The Lens Of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

 Insomnia, according to TCM, is caused by an excess or deficiency of yin and yang in the body. Excess worry, anger, shock, overactive mind, alcohol, and poor diet all contribute to the (im)balance of yin and yang qi.

A study published in 2012 determined the following common TCM patterns for insomnia:

●     Deficiency of both the heart and spleen 

●     Hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency

●     Liver-qi stagnation transforming into fire

●     Heart-kidney noninteraction         

●     Qi deficiency of the heart and gallbladder          

●     Internal disturbance of phlegm-heat        

●     Liver fire flaming upward   

●     Heart deficiency with timidity        

●     Stomach disharmony

●     Stomach qi disharmony     

The Effects Of Sleep Medication

Approximately 4% of Americans use prescription sleeping pills to help them fall asleep at night- most of them women. Although sleeping pills can be a temporary fix, they can also have long lists of unwanted side effects, such as dizziness, poor memory, weakness, drowsiness, blurred vision, and dependence.

Herbs For Sleep

Herbs are wonderful allies; they are here to support us in all changes and stages of life. A holistic approach using herbs and lifestyle changes can help get to the root of an imbalance.

Valerian is a well-known herbal sleep aid that both shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and improves sleep quality. It is a sedative and a relaxing nervine that is commonly used to ease stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, and pain, all of which can lead to sleep disorders.

How does this herb function?

Valerian acts similarly to commonly prescribed insomnia medications by interacting with GABA-A receptors without the dangers of dependence.

Contraindications: Although uncommon, some people may find valerian to be stimulating rather than relaxing, resulting in the opposite desired effect.

Linden flower is a beautiful herbal ally for those experiencing nervous tension and anxiety that interrupts or prevents sleep.

How does this herb work?

Linden constituents have similar effects to the neurotransmitter GABA, producing a calming effect.

A linden flower tea, bath, or footbath is an excellent addition to your nighttime routine for relaxing the body and mind.

This well-known herbal ally is a potent herb that many herbalists use to reduce anxiety, high cholesterol, gas, and even burns (externally).

Chamomile is indicated for those with an overactive nervous system; its mild sedative actions are perfect for children and adults alike.

How does this herb work?

Chamomile constituents act as a CNS depressant.

Contraindications: Those who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family may experience allergic reactions.

Skullcap belongs to the mint family; it is considered a sedative, anxiolytic, nervous system trophorestorative, and a bitter.

This herbal ally is indicated for those experiencing restless sleep, nervous stomach aches, headaches, and anxiety that is accompanied by fear.

How does this herb work?

Skullcap's constituents, baicalin and baicalein, stimulates the neurotransmitter GABA, helping to calm the nervous system.

Passionflowers are not only beautiful to look at, but they also have numerous medicinal benefits. Passiflora incarnata is considered a nervine, hypnotic, anxiolytic, and antidepressant. Many herbalists work with this plant to help their patients ease anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, circular thinking, and stress-induced hypertension.

How does this herb work?

Passionflower has a calming effect on the central nervous system; it enhances GABA and affects the brain's pleasure and pain signals.

Kava is a powerful herbal ally that has been used for thousands of years by Pacific Ocean cultures such as the Polynesians and Hawaiians. Today it is well known for its calming effects, used specifically for easing anxiety and nervous tension.

How does it work?

Kava contains constituents that increase the brain’s GABA signals. GABA helps to slow down the CNS and calm the brain. Low levels of GABA have been linked to mood and sleep disorders.

Cautions and contraindications include: Kava is a powerful herbal ally that should be treated with care. It should not be taken during pregnancy if you have a liver disorder or with alcohol or other sedatives.

For thousands of years, people have used lavender for both its aroma and for medical benefits.

Its actions include hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, and mild sedative. Lavender is a calming and relaxing herb that is indicated for those with anxiety, depression, and insomnia.


A warm cup of tea before bed can make a perfect addition to your nightly routine and help to prepare your body and mind to relax.

What You'll Need:

 A teapot

A tea infuser


3 parts chamomile

1 part lavender

1 part peppermint

1 part licorice root

Directions - Combine your herbs in a bowl or mason jar; bring 8. oz of water to a boil, and place 1 tsp of herbs in the tea infuser. Once the water has come to a boil, place the infuser in a mug and pour the water into the mug. Let sit for 10 minutes, and enjoy!

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