Most of us have at one time or another had trouble going to sleep, or getting a good night’s sleep. And for some of us, it’s a regular thing. But it doesn’t have to be. The use of herbs to aid sleep is an ancient practice that has remained popular because it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s something anyone can do, and it works. Try adding one of these four calming recipes to your bedtime routine and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

BEDTIME BATH

Your bedtime bath should be as comforting and calming as possible. Scientists have recently discovered that a higher body temperature can contribute to restlessness. The cooler your core the better. So try water that’s close to body temperature, which may be more relaxing than very hot water. Spend some time creating the right atmosphere, too— use candlelight and music (or opt for blessed silence, if it’s been a noisy day), put a bath pillow or your favorite, fluffiest towel behind your head and your cozy bathrobe within easy reach.

SIMPLE WAYS TO INCORPORATE HERBS INTO YOUR BATH:

• Make an herbal infusion using a handful of herbs and a quart of boiling water. Let it steep for half an hour to an hour, then strain and add to the drawn bath.
• Soak a handful of herbs in a quart of warm milk for several hours. Strain and add the milk to the drawn bath.
• Place herbs in a muslin bag or tea strainer. Than place the bag or strainer under the water as you run your bath. When the bath is drawn, place the bag or strainer in the tub. You might also place a bar of castile soap in the bag and use the bag for washing up.
• To make your bath more emollient (skin softening), add almond meal or skim milk powder. Or soak finely ground oatmeal or barley in warm water, strain, and add the water to your herbal bath.

SLEEP PILLOW

Tuck yourself or a little loved one in with a soft array of herbs and the scent will envelop and lull during sleep. To make a sleep pillow, simply combine handfuls of your favorite relaxing herbs with a powdered fixative, like orris root or ground lemon peel, and place in a covered glass jar or container for a few weeks (to meld and set the scent). Make a small pillowcase, leaving one side open. Put some thought into the fabric you use—fun flannel for a tyke, fancy batik for a teen, homey ticking fabric for a cottage dweller, or sensuous velvet or silk for yourself or a partner. For added softness, wrap the herbs in a bit of cotton batting before adding them to your pillowcase. After stuffing the pillowcase, simply sew up the open end. (If you like, you can first place the herbs in a muslin case and then make another, outer cover, which can be removed and washed.)

SOPORIFIC SPRAY

Scenting your bedroom with a sleep-inducing aroma is a wonderful way to make the transition to sleep. Lavender is a favorite for room or linen spritzers, but try other aromas, too, like lemon verbena, jasmine, or rose, for example. To make your own spray, simply steep about a tablespoon of herbs in one cup of boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes, then strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth. Once cooled, place in a spray bottle and store in the refrigerator. Spritz your bedroom just before it’s time to turn in. To scent your linens, mist sheets and pillowcases before you put them in the dryer, or make your own dryer sheet with a small, clean cloth that’s been soaked in the spray and then tossed in the dryer with the linens.

HERBAL NIGHTCAP

Make a cup of herbal tea part of your evening ritual, perhaps right after bath time or while sharing a bedtime story with your little ones. Experiment making teas with herbs— individually and in blends—that are known for their de-stressing affects.

BEST HERBS FOR GOOD SLEEP

Use individually or in combo:
Angelica
Chamomile
Elder Flowers
Hops
Jasmine
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Linden Flowers
Mistletoe
Mullein
Rose Petals
Thyme
Valerian Root

Sore or tired muscles? Add these in!
Agrimony
Burdock
Comfrey Leaf
Mugwort
Sage
Sassafras Root Bark

Good choices for herbal pillows:
Angelica
Chamomile
Hops
Jasmine
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Lemon verbena
Marjoram
Rose Petals
Rosemary

Making a tea? These are likely to lull:
Catnip
Chamomile
Dandelion
Hops *
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Red Clover *
Sage
Scullcap
Saint John's Wort
Valerian

* Don’t drink during pregnancy.

Find all of these herbs and more online at frontiercoop.com, where you can also read more about herbs for relaxation.

Author's Bio: 

Judith McElhinney is the Web Marketing Manager for Frontier Natural Products Co-op. Frontier specializes in natural and organic products, providing hundreds of bulk herbs, spices, teas, bath and beauty goods -- as well as being leaders in environmental sustainability. Learn more on our website: Frontier Natural Products Co-op