What do you think of when you think about herbalism and sleep? I find many people don’t realize that plant remedies have a huge array of ways that can support different facets of sleep.

I’m an herbalist and psychotherapist who has been supporting people with sleep for the last ten years who works with folx who tend to be looking for ways to bring care to themselves. From what I’ve discovered in my work and in assisting my community with sleep, most folx don’t realize how foundational sleep is to emotional-physical health and they miss opportunities to improve their sleep because they don’t think about the variety of contexts where sleep could be supported.

I have developed a philosophy for people to make sustainable efforts towards lasting improvement of their sleep, which includes taking small steps that are reasonable and feasible with your reality and making it a pleasurable experience. Read on to expand your awareness about various ways botanicals can help you improve your rest!

This post isn’t a ‘how-to guide’ but a ‘what-for guide.’ Below, I list seven broad categories of contexts where you could use herbalism to support sleep. I will expand on these categories in more detailed posts.

This guide intends to support you in learning that sleep and remedies to support it are nuanced and complex and that there are many ways that these resources can assist your sleep while also supporting other aspects of your wellbeing. If you find something that may support you, please do further research on safe and effective uses of herbal remedies.

Working with botanicals as viable, effective resources means learning how to source well, what doses and dosing strategies are needed, and your own system’s needs. I plan to write more extensively on each section below in future posts.

The Layers of Herbalism Sleep Support

Herbalism can positively impact someone’s sleep on various levels. In this post, I am sharing how I’ve come to assist folx with sleep as an herbalist.

Improving sleep isn’t simply knowing which herbs help rest but rather considering various disruptions to sleep quality and pairing them with one or more remedies combined with personal practices that assist someone’s system beyond the night hours of rest.

Here are some examples of the layers of support that I work with in my practice to help you learn what botanical remedies can offer:

  • Assist in falling or staying asleep
  • Ease symptoms of allergies & illness to make way for sleep
  • Calm anxious thoughts & stress so your mind-body can rest
  • Create herb-based sleep rituals that help you transform negative associations with sleep into more appealing ones
  • Improve digestion so that your system is ready for deep rest
  • Offset the harms of substance over-use that impedes sleep
  • Tend to grief that makes bedtime fraught

A layer can be about improving illness-related symptoms, increasing physical comfort, assisting a biological need (like digestion, breathing or having bowel movements), or easing emotional distress (such as anxiety).

Sometimes, you can simultaneously work with herbal supports for many of these layers. Other times, you may need to start with one layer because certain layers aren’t touchable until you work on something blocking them. However, each layer’s improvement tends to affect the other layers positively.

Botanical remedies have a multi-dimensional nature, and fleshing that out helps with a holistic understanding of what herbalism potentially is for sleep support. If you consider how many of your needs are dependent on restoration, like emotional wellbeing and physical health, the benefit of good sleep brings you deep. It’s foundational.

The resource of herbalism for sleep support, like almost anything else that supports our wellbeing, is one potential facet of a whole set of needs we have for this tireless work 😉 we do to maintain our wellbeing. So as you learn along with me here, just know that the right herbal remedies may offer some benefit. Still, it’s the right, well-sourced herbal remedies dosed at the right times and in combination with other factors that keep your circadian rhythms optimal, plus going to bed in a rest-inducing environment that will be most remarkable.

Additionally, consciousness about what makes it difficult to do the things that maintain a sleep-friendly life is crucial. You cannot take care of yourself consistently if you don’t know why or what gets in the way.

That’s where my sleep program, Rest of Life, or other means to raise your awareness can support you. Journaling, accountability pals, somatic practices and/or therapy are other ways to discover what may block your care.

Since this isn’t a ‘how to’ with herbalism, you can either DIY it by doing research or consult an herbalist to support you on your sleep journey. I hope you’ve found some piece of new awareness about the bounty of sleep support from botanical resources. Have sweet sleep tonight!