Rest in Darkness

Winter has settled in the Yukon. The days are short and snowy, and the nights are long and cold. The Wildwood greenhouse is empty and all the potions that captured the summer’s bounty are bottled up. The hustle and bustle of summer is over and there are no harvests left to process. So, what now? Why not do what Mother Nature does and rest, replenish our inner resources, and quietly wait for spring to return?

There is no better time to catch up on sleep than winter and there are plenty of herbs to help us disconnect from our busy modern lives to rest at night. These herbs, called nervines and/or sedatives, calm us down and promote deep sleep. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Skullcap is one of the most popular nervines in North America, and for good reason: skullcap is fabulous at calming the nervous system and helps ease stress, anxiety, anger, irritability (PMS anybody?), and sleeplessness without causing drowsiness. Skullcap is also very well tolerated by most people and can be taken long term. I like to have it as a glycerite at night, to enjoy its calming effects as a treat, or as tincture anytime of day, when my nervous system is overwhelmed.
  • Hops is a sedative that does a great job at promoting deep and restful sleep and is very well tolerated as well (it is also one of the main ingredients in beer…). Hops is so effective, it should only be taken when you are about to go to bed.
  • Valerian is a well known sleep aid and is commonly found in health food stores in one form or another. Valerian is also great at soothing the heart and calming stress. Just beware, that valerian can have the opposite effect and be stimulating for some people.
  • Lavender is another well known nervine and is often used as essential oil to help calm stress, and restlessness and bring on sleep. I was distilling lavender essential oil once and almost fell asleep standing on my feet from breathing it in! Of course, it also works as tea, especially if you take the time to breathe the tea’s aroma in.
  • Chamomile, who doesn’t know chamomile? Well, calming the nervous system is one of its many wonderful actions on the human body and it is well tolerated by most people, including children.
  • Adaptogens, such as tulsi, ashwagandha, and gotu kola, calm the nervous system without causing drowsiness and when used over the long term, they help our bodies deal with stress and enhance the quality of sleep and energy levels during the day. They are great for long term stress and anxiety!
  • Try out the Nocturne tincture to help you fall asleep and get a good night’s rest.

Everybody reacts differently to herbs, so it is best to try a few out to find what works best. Make sure you research them well before using them and consult a health care practitioner if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have allergies or any medical conditions.

Happy tea time and rest well!