Woman awake in bed and unhappy

Herb Health: Sleep

Are you finding it difficult to sleep?

Whether you’re suffering from stress, anxiety or just adjusting to a new routine, editor Jane Garton shares some herbal remedies to help you relax.

If money worries, work or family issues are giving you endless nights of tossing and turning you need to address the problem fast. Lack of sleep soon leads to more anxiety, which leads to further stress, and before you know it you are caught in a vicious circle of yet more bad sleep. So what’s the solution?

The best answer is to try and sort out the underlying problems and to take some soothing herbs to help relax you and lower those stress levels in the mean time.

Here are some of the best sleep-inducing natural remedies.


This lovely plant with its daisy-like flowers is a well-known natural remedy for sleep. Try it in a soothing night time tea. Put one teabag or 5-8g of loose camomile into a cup of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse for a few minutes before drinking.


Extracts of valerian root contain natural compounds known as iridoids that have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help to relax you, putting you in the mood for sleep. Valerian is often combined with other herbs such as lemon balm and hops, both of which are renowned for their calming properties.


The vibrant blooms of this distinctive South American climber yield soporific fruits that are often used to calm nervous tension. Passion Flower combines well with camomile and valerian to aid sleep. To make an infusion put I teaspoon of dried plant into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for a few minutes before straining and drinking.


The dried flowers of this deliciously scented plant have been used as a sedative since the 12th century. Why not invest in a lavender pillow. Alternatively sprinkle up to four drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase and inhale the aroma as you drift off.


Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day—even on the weekends.

Don’t take naps after 3 p.m: Naps can boost your brainpower, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Have a good sleeping environment: Get rid of anything that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or a TV or computer in the bedroom.

Take a hot bath before bed: The drop in body temperature after the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help relax you.

Relax before bed: Take time to unwind. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual