Why think of herbalism for falling & staying asleep?*

What happens regularly gets normalized. Many people normalize sleep deficiency, yet even minor sleep disturbance makes a big difference in quality of life. Sufficient sleep can make or break the energy you need to garner something in your life, like a cherished activity, bandwidth to maintain relationships, or whether your immune system has what it needs to do its work.

Several things can make it difficult to fall asleep, including being too stimulated to relax, anxiety, and digestive issues that botanicals can help. Relaxing herbs can help you fall asleep because they can settle an overactive mind, bring down tension in the body, and ease anxiety.

But how do you effectively practice home herbalism to assist in getting to and staying asleep?

Botanical remedies can be simple to work with in some ways, yet they require base knowledge to ensure they work for you.

As an herbalist, I’ve heard folx who may be misinformed say that herbs don’t work for them. I don’t believe the same remedies or modalities are best suited for everyone. However, if you’re interested in herbalism to support your sleep, following these guidelines will significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll improve your rest.

  • Ensure you’re working with quality herbs and botanical preparations from trusted sources

    • dried herbs that are past their prime are dilute

    • there are herbal products on the market that just are not well made or may be labeled in misleading ways

  • Read herbalism books or consult an herbalist about dose.

    • most herbal remedies need to be dosed several times to reach their therapeutic potential

    • experimentation is necessary to find your effective dose both in terms of amount per dose and number of doses

  • Have realistic expectations.

    • Botanical remedies for rest tend to work gently and in tandem with other efforts to support your system rather than immediately sedating you to sleep.

  • Herb choices matter, and needed remedies vary from person to person.

    • Dozens of specific herbs could be part of an herbal sleep formula. While certain plants stand out as exquisite in one way or another for rest, your specific needs and system will inform what works best for you.

  • Herbs can do a lot to support you, but they cannot undo sleep-halting elements!

    • The things we do or don’t consume, our use of energy throughout the day, and the atmosphere in which our systems operate will have huge impacts on sleep.

Digestion & Food’s Impact on Falling & Staying Asleep & Botanical Support.

The digestive process is laborious. Many muscles traverse the digestive tract from our esophagus all the way through the intestines. So much work is involved, including extracting nutrients. If your system is doing the important work of supplying itself with nutrients, it will not be able to get into a deep sleep so efficiently. Many herbs that are generally relaxing also support the digestive process.

Sluggish digestion can interfere with sleep. A cup of tea with what are called carminative herbs, such as chamomile, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, and peppermint, helps move digestion along and thus preps you for better sleep.

One last note about food and sleep is that people sometimes wake up at night simply because they don’t have a sufficient supply of protein. Waking can happen with blood sugar crashes. It’s a shame if this happens and you don’t know the cause, as you may put all sorts of effort into improving sleep when the best antidote is having more protein! Lastly, you can research an herbal pal, cinnamon, to support blood sugar.

Herbal Remedies for Staying Asleep

Sometimes you may need a little help staying asleep if you wake up at night. Several herbs can support getting back to sleep and staying asleep longer.

This is partly about loving your brain, nervous system, and spirit. You need the replenishment you only get when your sleep is sustained. While many people could squeak by with a couple of hours of sleep a night, they don’t know what gets sacrificed.

If you wake at night, you may benefit from identifying what’s waking you.

  • If it’s related to nightmares, you may want to tune into what parts of you are carrying fears, anxieties or concerns and research anxiety calming herbs. Some herbs to look into could be skullcap, lavender, linden, chamomile, catnip, and not technically an herb but a mushroom, reishi.

  • If you wake frequently to urinate, you want to consider whether you sleep deeply enough in the first place. Not falling into a deep sleep could be helped with initial herbal remedies to relax your mind and system, ensuring the room is dark enough, at the right temperature, and that sound isn’t disrupting you. If it isn’t about not getting into an initial deep sleep, this may be something to further explore with a holistic practitioner or healthcare provider.

  • If you find that you need to sustain a sleep state, you can research herbs that help with staying asleep, including passionflower, california poppy and valerian. Please do your research here or consult an herbalist because these herbs aren’t right for everyone. Note, valerian is paradoxical in that for some people, it’s deeply relaxing, and it puts others on edge.

  • Consider environmental factors, too. For example, if morning sunlight wakes you, an eye mask may be your friend. Or if your dog is unsettled at night, some calming measures like an anti-anxiety shirt/vest may quell things for your sleep hours.

On Getting Back to Sleep

Sometimes, something you have no control over wakes you, like a child crying, especially if it’s your child! Anything that jolts you awake can be unsettling.

Just the anxiety of being awake can prolong being up. Waking up can be super frustrating. Especially if you are someone that has anti-sleep thoughts kick in once you’ve awakened, such as now I’ll never get back to sleep or it’s going to be yet another restless night. The tangible action of taking a botanical remedy and the care that comes in a tincture bottle can be a real gift in these moments!

Herbs that help you fall back to sleep can serve two purposes at once: calming frustration and anxiety while also assisting your system in returning to sleep.

Got a sleep tip or conundrum to share?

I love hearing from my reader friends. Write me! Otherwise, I wish you well on your path to sweet sleep.


*Hey reader friend. I’m an herbalist and psychotherapist who put this blog together to support people to learn about herbalism along with self explorations to take care of themselves. While I offer you a starting place to learn about herbs and remedies to support your sleep and overall wellbeing, the above content and all blogs on this site are not medical advice. Please further research and/or consult an herbalist about specific use. While botanical remedies can be invaluable resources, there is much to learn about effective and safe work with herbs. This blog is intended to be a starting point and inspiration for you to discover possible plant-based remedies and inspire you to explore how you can improve your self care. Still, it cannot offer the level of nuanced assessment needed to determine how and which herbs, doses, and remedy forms may match your unique needs.