Oh, sleep — how we love and need you so! Yet, it’s just so hard to get enough of you.
There are a lot of aspects of our modern way of life that can work against you getting enough good, quality sleep. Lack of daylight and time outside, too much screen time, too much sugar and alcohol, food sensitivities, anxiety and (wait for it…) stress! Yes, stress seems to be blamed for pretty much everything that ails us these days. And it’s because when our body is stressed out and in fight-or-flight mode, the last thing it’s focusing on is digestion, reproducing, or sleeping! Surely anyone scared of an attack from a woolly mammoth would not go to sleep — and our bodies are still programmed to react to stress that way!
While we need to tackle stress from many angles — including learning how to unwind and calming our nervous system — and learn the tricks for setting ourselves up for sleep, there are some amazing plants we all need to know about. These powerhouse plants will help you get the precious sleep you need.
In my new book “Super Powders” (available for pre-order now!) you can read more about these amazing plants, too. Some noteworthy plants include:
This incredible root has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for centuries. Studies have found that it can help reduce cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands — making it a powerful plant when it comes to calming your response to stress. It’s overall calming and safe to take in the evening, too. It’s found to be anti-inflammatory and considered an aphrodisiac. What’s so great about ashwagandha is that it can both help calm you and boost your energy levels! If you are dealing with sleep deprivation (say, due to a new baby or jet lag) ashwagandha can help you get through the day. It’s the first thing I recommend to new moms going through that big life change!
Yes, cacao does contain some caffeine and can be stimulating, so is not great for taking in higher doses right before bedtime. However, it is also high in magnesium, which indeed is a calming nutrient that so many of us don’t get enough of at all. So, while I don’t recommend chocolate right before you’re attempting to sleep, having some dark chocolate or adding raw cacao to your smoothie earlier in the day may help improve your sleep in the long run. The bonus is that it of course tastes delicious, is loaded with protective antioxidants, and can act on our neurotransmitters to help increase our mood.
3. Holy basil
This is another beloved plant (also referred to as tulsi) in the Ayurvedic traditions whose list of benefits goes on and on. In relation to sleep, it’s helpful to know that holy basil is overall calming (some call tulsi tea liquid yoga) and fosters a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. It’s perfect to use when you want to unwind from a long day of hard work.
Reishi mushroom is a calming adaptogen that can help improve sleep overall. This happens to be one of the most studied plants out there and the list of benefits goes on an on. It’s a great go-to for anyone looking to chill out after a long day, and can be a great aid for insomniacs who have chronic challenges with sleep.
This anti-inflammatory super root is wonderful for cooling any inflammation in the body. If pain and discomfort is part of your sleep challenge, I recommend incorporating turmeric ASAP. My favorite way to consume it is at night in warm coconut milk with a little ginger, black pepper, raw honey, and coconut oil. So comforting, relaxing ,and delicious. (This recipe and more are in my book “Super Powders.”)