The results of scientific studies indicate that approximately 10% of the world's population suffers from insomnia, and a huge number of people claim that they can not sleep without a TV. Nevertheless, scientists argue that the TV, smartphone and computer do not contribute to sleep. Quite the contrary - the blue light emitted by the screens destroys the sleep hormone in our bodies. And the "sleeping pill" effect of the TV is just a ritual that a person is used to. The brain of those who like to watch TV at night is already programmed for the fact that sooner or later, after watching TV, a dream will come. A similar thing happens in the brain of lovers to read every night before going to bed, but for them the book serves as a “sleeping pill”. Exactly the same ritual that promotes good sleep can be evening tea parties. And if you choose the right ingredients for tea, then you can achieve a hypnotic effect no worse than from less safe tablets.
Herbal sleep tea: benefits and harms
Until recently, herbal teas were perceived only as part of alternative or alternative medicine. But in the process of modern scientific research, it was revealed that some herbs have a "sleeping pill" effect. What kind of herbs possess such properties, we will talk a little later, but for now - about some rules and cautions.
Although herbal teas are considered a safe treatment and in many cases are useful even for children, it is nevertheless necessary to understand that some herbs also have side effects. Some of them can cause allergic reactions, therefore, allergies are contraindicated, others can provoke heartburn and pain in the stomach, which makes them unsuitable for people with gastritis or peptic ulcer.
Some herbal teas may be contraindicated for pregnant women, while breastfeeding, for people with autoimmune diseases, or shortly before surgery. They can also be contraindicated while taking prescription sedatives, antidepressants, anti-TB drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners, and blood pressure.
Chamomile tea is one of the most popular in the world. The dried flowers of this plant have a sweetish aroma and the same aftertaste.
In the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the results of a study on the effect of chamomile on sleep quality were published. The experiment involved 34 people with insomnia. They were divided into two groups. Representatives of the first for a month drank tea from chamomile, the rest were included in the control group, where they did not adhere to this ritual. After a month, people from the first group not only began to sleep better, but also became more active and alert throughout the day. Therefore, people who have difficulty falling asleep, experts advise 30 minutes before going to bed to drink a cup of warm chamomile tea. In another experiment, ten patients with heart failure after drinking a cup of chamomile tea dozed off almost immediately. The sleep of some of them lasted almost 90 minutes.
The thing is that chamomile affects the body as a light tranquilizer and sleeping pill. The plant contains a chemical substance known as apigenin, which acts on the benzodiazepine receptors of the brain and causes a sedative effect. That is why chamomile essential oils are often used in aromatherapy as a sedative.
Studies show that chamomile has anticonvulsant properties and perfectly relaxes the central nervous system. This plant contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that cause negative reactions in the body. But this is not all the useful properties of chamomile.
This plant can also help relieve a migraine attack. Chamomile eliminates unnecessary anxiety, relieves allergies, inflammation, relieves cramps. Tea from this plant helps strengthen immunity, so a chamomile drink is considered very useful in the cold season. It is rich in flavonoids that help relieve stress and calm down. And chamomile flowers are a good source of various useful substances, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, fluorine, folic acid and vitamin A.
Despite the fact that chamomile helps to cope with insomnia, in some cases it is undesirable to drink tea from it. It is likely that the drink will cause cross-allergy in people with a reaction to chrysanthemums, ragweed, arnica, sunflowers, asters or marigolds. In most cases, an allergy to chamomile manifests itself in the form of a rash, but more serious reactions, such as anaphylactic shock, accompanied by swelling of the throat, shortness of breath and shortness of breath, are also possible. Chamomile tea is also contraindicated for people with asthma, as it can sometimes cause an attack of the disease. But people without allergies should not be too fond of this drink. If you drink too much tea, which is also very strong, nausea and vomiting can occur. Therefore, you should start drinking herbal tea with small portions.
Chamomile tea in combination with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, antidepressants and alcohol can cause excessive drowsiness, and when using anticoagulants (blood thinners), the risk of bleeding increases.
Preparation: take 1 tsp. dry flowers, pour 1 cup boiling water and let it brew for 10 minutes. You can add a little honey before use.
Valerian root is another popular remedy for insomnia. The name of this plant comes from the Latin word meaning "to be healthy." The healing properties of valerian were known in ancient Greece and Rome. In ancient times, the root of the plant was used to treat insomnia, headaches, nervousness, and seizures.
Scientists make reasonable assumptions that valerian not only causes sleep, but also improves its quality. The extract of this plant has a beneficial effect on the quality of the deep sleep phase, which is crucial for restoring energy and allows a person to feel rested.
The thing is that there are substances in the roots of valerian that can affect certain parts of the brain, stopping mental activity and causing relaxation. This ability of the plant determines its calming properties. Therefore, if a swarm of thoughts prevents you from falling asleep, try to drink an infusion from the root of Valerian.
The substances contained in this plant enhance the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a chemical compound necessary for relaxing the nervous system. GABA activates alpha waves and inhibits the activity of beta waves in the brain. In turn, alpha-wave activity leads to a person becoming less restless and more relaxed.
The advantage of valerian is that it has almost no side effects. In addition to raw materials for brewing tea, alcoholic tinctures, plant essential oil, tablets and capsules with root extract are also used for sedative purposes.
Many people know valerian as an affordable sedative, but the extract of this plant can also be useful for treating insomnia, depression and anxiety, and helps relieve a migraine attack. Tea from valerian root is also useful for hyperactivity, helps to concentrate, for example, before an important exam.
However, some scholars argue that the effect of teas with Valerian extract becomes most noticeable only after several weeks of use, but the sedative effect of the first two weeks, according to their observations, is exclusively a placebo effect.
Despite the many useful properties, do not get too carried away with valerian teas. If you drink too much herbal drink, then the desire to sleep appears not only in the evening and at night, but also during the day. Also, with an overdose of the extract, headaches, confusion, upset stomach can occur.
Preparation: 2 tsp crushed roots in 1 cup of water, cook for 1 minute, insist 30 minutes.
It is well known that the scent of lavender has soothing properties. But in order to improve sleep, fall asleep faster and easier, you can use not only aroma lamps, but also drink tea with the flowers of this fragrant plant. This drink has a slightly sweet aftertaste and a pleasant aroma.
The homeland of lavender is the Mediterranean, whose inhabitants are aware of the amazing properties of this plant since antiquity. Nowadays, this plant is easily grown far beyond its historical homeland, which makes lavender very affordable as a folk herbal remedy. The more useful properties of tea with lavender flowers are more than enough.
Scientific studies show that lavender stimulates sleep and improves its quality for a long time, which makes it an excellent way to combat insomnia, including that caused by anxiety. Scientists from the University of Vienna have found scientific evidence that lavender essential oils have a beneficial effect on sleep quality, improve a person’s mental and physical condition and do not cause an undesirable sedative effect. By the way, today lavender essential oils are one of the most studied substances in this group.
Researchers from the University of Southampton (UK) have studied the effects of lavender on adults. It turned out that the sleep of people taking plant extracts improved by 20%. Another study was conducted in Taiwan, where women who recently had a baby were offered drinks from lavender. It turned out that those who consumed tea from lavender felt less tired. Another study was conducted with the participation of middle-aged women. Participants in the experiment, who consumed products with lavender twice a week for 3 months, improved heart rate and sleep quality.
Drinking lavender tea has many health benefits. In addition to improving the quality of sleep, this drink helps with colds, coughs, bronchitis, has a beneficial effect on heart health, reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, regulates the level of "bad" cholesterol, prevents inflammation, reduces anxiety and relaxes.
However, if lavender tea is consumed very often and in large quantities, side effects are possible in the form of headache, constipation, increased appetite, increased drowsiness, or an allergic reaction. With caution, you should drink drinks with lavender for pregnant women (may cause miscarriage), people with hypersensitivity to the sun (a rash may occur), people who use blood thinners (lavender can increase their effect) or lower blood pressure (plant possesses hypotensive properties). Lavender tea is also contraindicated while taking sedatives from the group of barbiturates and benzodiazepines (interacting together, cause very severe lethargy and drowsiness).
Preparation: 1 tsp. Pour dried lavender flowers with 1 cup of boiling water, cover the vessel tightly and leave for 15-20 minutes.
Melissa can also be very helpful for insomnia. In herbal medicine, its extract is used to create a soft sleeping pill.
This plant has a rich biochemical composition. One of the components is terpenes, which give the herb soothing properties. In addition, melissa contains tannins, which have an antiviral effect, and eugenol eliminates muscle cramps, rejuvenates cells and kills bacteria.
Melissa tea in Europe was very popular back in the 14th century. Then it was used mainly for the treatment of headaches and excessive nervousness. Nowadays, lemon balm is known as a phytochemical for improving sleep, including in women during menopause.
Scientists from the University of Maryland (USA) conducted a study with the participation of people suffering from insomnia. They were invited in the evenings to regularly drink tea from lemon balm and valerian root. As a result, it turned out that in 81% of the participants in the experiment, sleep improved, they began much faster and easier to fall asleep. By the way, many studies have shown that the hypnotic effect of lemon balm is further enhanced if combined with other herbs, such as chamomile, valerian or hops. In addition, experts from the English city of Newcastle found that lemon balm tea can also be useful for people with Alzheimer's disease and other diseases associated with memory loss and impaired cognitive function of the brain.
So, lemon balm tea is an excellent natural remedy for improving sleep. It relieves stress and anxiety, facilitates the manifestation of depression, improves mood, strengthens memory and protects the heart, and all this contributes to a relaxing night's rest. However, it is not worth it to get too carried away with lemon balm, especially for people prone to hypotension. In addition, if you drink several cups of strong lemon balm tea daily, then addiction can occur over time, and if you stop drinking it abruptly, signs of withdrawal symptoms may occur.
Preparation: 1 teaspoon + 200 ml of boiling water, leave for 30 minutes.
To many, hops are known exclusively as an ingredient in beer. But in folk medicine, hop cones have been used as a medicine for many centuries. One of the indications for drinking hop tea is insomnia. In addition, today there is already scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of this plant on the quality of night rest. Studies show that hops have a moderate hypnotic effect, but if you add valerian root extract to the drink, it will become even easier to overcome insomnia.
In addition to sleeping pills, a drink made from hop cones has an anti-inflammatory effect, helps the body fight infection, removes toxins, improves heart function, and also has a positive effect on brain cells.
In order not to excessively enhance the sedative effect of hop tea, the drink should not be consumed with psychotropic drugs. In some cases, herbal tea can cause allergies, so it is contraindicated for allergy sufferers. Hop cones contain substances that increase the amount of the female hormone estrogen in the body, which is why men should not be too fond of the drink. Hop tea is also contraindicated for women with a malignant tumor in the mammary gland, pregnant women, and people with kidney or liver diseases.
Preparation: pour 5-7 g of chopped hop cones into 250 ml of hot water, bring to a boil, leave for a few more minutes.
St. John's wort is mentioned in folk medicine in most countries of Europe and Asia, in particular as a natural remedy for the treatment of mental disorders and insomnia.
A study of the properties of this herb showed that it has a beneficial effect on the quality of sleep, in particular its deep phase, which determines whether a person wakes up rested and alert. St. John's wort is a plant rich in beneficial substances such as flavonoids, phytosterols, coumarins, xanthones and essential oils.The special chemical composition of St. John's wort has an effect on the hormonal balance in the body, and it plays an important role in maintaining the correct "settings" of a person’s internal clock. Simply put, if hormones are normal, then at night a person will want to sleep, and stay awake during the day.
In addition, St. John's wort is a good natural cure for depression. It contains chemical compounds that regulate the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, on which the mood and motivation of a person depends. And happy people, studies show, are less likely to suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders. Tea from St. John's wort is also useful for people trying to quit smoking or abuse alcohol. The drink makes them calmer and more balanced. St. John's wort grass is rich in antioxidants and chemical compounds with anti-inflammatory effects, so this plant can be useful for eliminating pain in joints and muscles.
However, St. John's wort tea should not be abused as it can cause blood pressure spikes, nausea, dizziness, panic attacks, or upset stomach. In addition, St. John's wort belongs to such herbs that are poorly combined with different drugs.
Preparation: 10 g of dry grass, pour 100 ml of boiling water, insist, strain, then dilute with water in a ratio of 1: 3.
In Chinese medicine, the therapeutic properties of Magnolia Bark have been known for over 2000 years. This tool is used for antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects. But in addition, in the cortex of magnolia contains substances that act on the central nervous system and help a person fall asleep faster.
The thing is that the bark of this tree is rich in chemical components that affect the production of GABA and contribute to the relaxation and "disconnection" of the brain. Something similar to our central nervous system makes diazepam. Studies show that in the cortex of magnolia contains substances that prevent the release of adrenaline, contribute to relaxation and easier falling asleep. Also in the cortex of magnolia contains biologically active substances that help prolong the phase of deep sleep.
If you get too carried away with a drink from the magnolia bark, some side effects may appear, for example: dizziness, trembling hands, a strong decrease in blood pressure. You should also know that tea from Magnolia bark is strictly prohibited for children, pregnant and lactating women. To avoid excessive sedative effect, the drink should not be combined with sedative drugs, as well as other herbs with hypnotic effect.
Preparation: 1 teaspoon of crushed bark pour 300 ml of boiling water, cook for 10-15 minutes.
The medicinal properties of this plant are known throughout the world, however, as a natural remedy for insomnia, as well as a natural cure for epilepsy, passionflower began to be used only in the 18th century.
Today, researchers know that Passiflora flowers not only create a hypnotic effect, but also have anxiolytic (reduce anxiety), soothing, anticonvulsant and analgesic properties.
The therapeutic effect of passiflora is determined by the phytochemicals contained in the plant. In particular, a beneficial effect on the central nervous system, and thereby a hypnotic effect, is achieved thanks to apigenin, orientin, sirtiamarin, quercetin, kempferol and chrysin. These substances act on humans as sedatives. Data from scientific experiments indicate that the use of tea from passionflower stimulates the production of GABA, resulting in relaxation of the body and easy falling asleep. In addition, passionflower helps relieve muscle cramps, improves heart function, normalizes blood pressure, and also helps to cope with symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Although the list of useful properties of passiflora is quite large, but as a natural sleeping pill tea from this plant is not suitable for everyone. For example, it is contraindicated in pregnant women, as it can cause premature birth or miscarriage. Also, tea from this herb is not recommended to drink with low blood pressure, the presence of diseases of the digestive tract, as well as while taking antidepressants and sedatives.
Preparation: for 1 tsp. herbs take 150 ml of boiling water, you can boil for 1 minute, and then insist 20 minutes.
Ashwagandha is a perennial evergreen plant from the nightshade family, widely distributed in India and Nepal, and used in Indian medicine. In our country, this plant is more commonly known as soothing sleeping pills, Indian ginseng, sunflower physalis or winter cherry. In Ayurveda, this plant is mentioned as a natural remedy to reduce stress, improve concentration, and also as a medicine against aging, cancer and, of course, insomnia.
Studies show that sleeping pills act on GABA receptors in the brain and thereby reduce nervous activity, causing drowsiness, relieve anxiety and cramps. At one time, the results of a study were published in the specialized journal Phytomedicine, indicating that ashwagandha extract acts on the human body according to the same principle as Lorazepam, which is prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, sleep problems, as well as relief of withdrawal symptoms in alcohol abusers. In addition, it is known that sleeping pills have antidepressant properties and beneficially affect the bodies of people suffering from insomnia.
Despite the overseas origin of sleeping pills, in our country you can buy a plant as dried, ready for brewing tea, and seeds for self-cultivation. But you should take a drink from ashwagandha very carefully, especially at first times, since it can cause an allergic reaction. If you are overly carried away by such tea, then sleep is provided to a person not only at night, but also during the day, which can be dangerous to health. People with diabetes should be aware that ashwagandha grass can lower blood glucose levels, causing hypoglycemia. It is also better not to drink this tea with hyperthyroidism, as the components of the plant further increase the production of thyroid hormones. In addition, sleeping pills pose a potential danger of soaring to people with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.
Preparation: for 1 cup of boiling water take several fresh leaves of ashwagandha or not more than 1 g of a dried plant, insist 15 minutes.
As you can see, there are many natural drinks that can completely replace drugs with a sedative effect and promote a quiet sleep with a minimum of side effects.