It is not uncommon for many of us to toss and turn or listen to the clock tick while lying on the bed every now and then. There are however nearly 40 million Americans who suffer from a chronic restless night on a daily basis, a long-term sleep disorder called insomnia. Anxiety, stress, and depression are some common factors that could disrupt an individuals sleep. Although it is hard to pinpoint if sleeplessness causes anxiety or vice versa, studies have shown that people with chronic insomnia are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Similarly, there has been a definite link between lack of sleep and depression; insomnia is one of the common signs of depression.

Sleep Foundation recommends an adult over 18 years or older get 7-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis. Some of the benefits of adequate sleep includes : decreased stress and improved mood, healthy body weight, improved athletic performance, and an ability to pay attention and remember new information.

There are many treatment options available for people suffering with sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression depending upon the root cause and the severity of the problem. Here are just a few tips to get started on sleeping soundly and reducing stress:

– Meditate and focus on your breathing.

– Exercise is a great way to release your mood enhancing endorphins.

– Play soft, calming music to relax your body and mind.

– Do not use caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the evening.

– Make a to-do list and clear your head before going to bed.

– Use your bedroom for only sleeping and remove any clocks from the bedroom.

Besides these tips, drinking herbal tea before bedtime could help your body relax and sleep better. Below are some teas, herbs, and roots that could help with you to sleep well and improve your mood.

– Chamomile has been used for thousands of years for its calming effects. It is believed to have a relaxing, anti-anxiety effect because of apidenin, a flavonoid compound. Chamomile tea is naturally caffeine-free, safe for most adults no side effects. However, if you are allergic to ragweed be cautious and check with your physician if you are pregnant or nursing before drinking chamomile tea.

– Valerian is one of those few rare herbs that have sedative properties. They are commonly used for sleep disorders, anxiety treatments and depression. Valerian is likely safe for most people when used in medicinal amounts short-term (4-8 weeks) but the safety of long-term is unknown. Since valerian slows down the central nervous system, be careful if you consume alcohol and check with your physician if you take over the counter and prescribed medications. For anyone pregnant/breast feeding, it is also safe to talk to your doctor before starting valerian root.

– Lavender, a Mediterranean herb is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, and depression. The flower and oil of lavender is used for medicinal purpose as those parts have sedating effects and an ability to relax certain muscles. While lavender is consumed mostly in the form of tea, adding lavender to bathwater have also shown to improve mental well-being. It is safe to use lavender by most healthy adults but always consult with your physician if you are scheduled for surgery soon, pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking other medications.

– St. John’s Wort is a commonly used natural anti-depressant. It has also been found helpful with anxiety and insomnia. This popular herb is believed to work by allowing serotonin, a neurotransmitter to linger in the brain as low serotonin levels have been linked with depression. St. John’s Wort is generally safe but like other herbs, check with your physician especially if you are taking other antidepressants, pregnant or breastfeeding. Research from National Institute of Health has shown that St. John’s Wort may reduce the effectiveness of several drugs including birth control pills and heart disease medications.

– Lemon Balm and Peppermint are often added in herbal teas to enhance the effectiveness of bedtime teas. They both have a nice aroma that most people enjoy. While lemon balm has calming effects to ease anxiety and restlessness, peppermint is associated with helping stomach problems and calming internal systems. Both are safe to use by most healthy adults but always consult your physician if you are on other medications, pregnant or breastfeeding.

– Kava, a plant native to the South Pacific is used to calm anxiety, reduce stress, restlessness, and help with sleep problems. However, there are many safety concerns associated with this plant such as liver failure and even deaths in some cases. Kava has been banned in many countries like Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. Do not take kava without first consulting your doctor.

Millions of people worldwide believe in the power of a hot cup of tea. There are not only medical benefits from drinking herbal teas but taking the time to enjoy a cup of tea in itself is relaxing to your body and mind.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/
http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=37427
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/sjw-and-depression.htm
https://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/aug2007_report_stress_anxiety_01.htm
https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/peppermint
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/872.html

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