Dried Chamomile Flowers
Credit: pirshulet at Sxc.hu

Learn How to Get A Good Night's Sleep With Herbs

According to the Mayo Clinic website, more than one-third of American adults suffer from some type of insomnia at some point in their lives. The inability to sleep can be caused by a variety of factors including stress, anxiety, poor diet, over-consumption of caffeine and other stimulating substances, as well as underlying medical conditions. If you experience chronic insomnia, always consult your doctor first, as this may be an indicator of a more serious condition. If your trouble sleeping is mild but disruptive, you may try some of the following herbal sleep aids to help you get a good night's rest. Some of the most effective herbal sleeping aids include chamomile, valerian and kava kava. Again, always consult your physician before taking any herbal remedies, especially if you currently take prescription drugs, as interactions might occur.


A common herbal sleep aid, chamomile has the ability to soothe the nerves and muscles, helping you drift off to sleep more easily. Because it works gently, chamomile is best used for the mildest cases of insomnia – those typically caused by over-stimulation and minor stress. Purchase chamomile tea bags at your local grocery store or natural foods store, or from an online retailer, and use them according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drink a cup of hot tea before bed to help you relax and ease into sleep. If you have access to dried chamomile, you can make a cup of tea by steeping 1 tsp. of the dried flowers in 1 cup very hot water for 10 minutes, and then straining out the herbs.

Although chamomile is generally considered safe, it should not be consumed by individuals taking blood-thinning medications. Also avoid chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed, as the herb can cause a similar allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction to chamomile include difficulty breathing, rashes on the skin and throat swelling. If you display any of these side effects, seek medical attention immediately and discontinue taking chamomile immediately.


Valerian root is one of the most powerful natural sleep aids, as it has a mildly sedative effect. It is often used as an effective alternative to over-the-counter sleep aids, as it can help individuals suffering from mild to moderate insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. The recommended dosage is 300 to 600 mg of valerian taken about 30 minutes before bed time. The herb is also helpful for soothing feelings of stress and anxiety, and it calms the mind to better prepare for sleep. You can purchase valerian capsules at your local natural food store or from an online retailer. It is sometimes available in the drug store, as well. You can also find the herb in liquid tincture form, but be warned the strong smell and taste are often off-putting to individuals not familiar with valerian.

Do not take valerian before driving or operating heavy machinery, as it does cause drowsiness and may impair your judgment. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid taking valerian in any form. Because it is so powerful, it's recommended that you take valerian for the first time on a weekend so you can gauge how it will affect you before any important obligations (like work or school). In some cases, drowsiness may occur after waking that persists for several hours. However, this will generally pass after taking the herb for several days. As always, do not take valerian with prescription medications and consult your doctor first.

Kava Kava

Kava kava has also been used for centuries to ease stress and anxiety, and as one of the most effective natural insomnia remedies. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that excessive or prolonged use of the herb may result in liver damage. For this reason, you should only turn to kava kava as a last resort and it should only be consumed under the supervision of a qualified health care provider. That being said, short-term use of the herb can help individuals with insomnia due to racing thoughts or excessive stress, even in moderate to severe cases. A typical dosage is anywhere from 70 to 210 mg, taken just before bed for the best results. Until you know how kava affects you, begin with a low dosage and increase slowly as needed.

You can purchase kava kava in capsule or extract form. For the best results, follow the manufacturer's directions for use. You can also purchase the dried bark and make a tea by steeping 1 tbsp. of the bark in 1 cup very hot water for 20 minutes, straining and drinking one cup before bed. Do not take kava kava with prescription drugs or if you currently suffer from liver or kidney disorders. In addition, women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid taking the herb in any form.