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9 Herbs to Try for Better Sleep


a woman sleeping with sleep mask

I recently attended a webinar presented by Gaia Herbs Pro and Dr. Mary Bove about adaptogens and sleep. I wanted to share some interesting things I learned in the training because I think it could be helpful to all of you!


Adaptogens are one of my favorite classes of herbs because they’re potentially useful to all of us. Adaptogens can benefit many systems including the adrenals, immune system, nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and hormonal system. They can help with fatigue, memory, sleep, hormones, mood and blood sugar.


There are many different herbal adaptogens so it can be hard to know which to use. Ashwagandha has become popular and it’s one I see in the store a lot, but there are many other herbs that can be beneficial for supporting our stress response.


In general:

  • For mild stress consider holy basil, Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero), or reishi mushroom.

  • For longer stressful periods consider rhodiola, licorice root or cordyceps.

  • If stress has been affecting you a long time and you feel depleted, consider ashwagandha, magnolia or mimosa bark.


A Quick Herbal Guide to Adaptogens

Different adaptogens can be helpful depending on what you’re dealing with so choose a few that address what you’re needing. They work well together! Here’s a quick guide on what each one does and why you might want to choose it.


Holy basil or Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) - a “broad spectrum” adaptogen, good for regulating blood sugar and physical endurance. Can use at night if you’re feeling overstimulated and it’s hard to sleep.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) - good for prolonged stress, regulating blood sugar, supporting immunity and the thyroid gland. Combines well with rhodiola and schisandra.

Reishi mushroom - helps regulate sleep/wake cycles if taken during the day. Also good for supporting the immune system and decreasing inflammation. It may cause digestive issues so start low.


Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) - I remember thinking about this herb as the “student” adaptogen that many of us were on in school. It’s good for restoration when long term stress has left you feeling tired, depressed and not sleeping well. Start low and increase slowly because it can make you feel overstimulated if you’re really depleted.


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) - this is one of my favorite adaptogens because it can give a boost to patients who are depleted. It helps with low daytime cortisol by inhibiting its breakdown so it stays around longer. It can make patients "feel like themselves again" quickly, which can be super motivating when someone has been exhausted for a long time. I’d consider this one to be a short-term “band-aid” because it may raise blood pressure and affect potassium levels. However, blood pressure can easily be checked at home and I always check it on my visits.


Cordyceps - this fungus can help to regulate the circadian rhythm by helping with daytime energy and sleep. It’s also good for improving physical health if you're very active or working a labor job.


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) - is one I recommend for nighttime use to help with sleep that's impacted by stress. It can also support thyroid function, blood sugar regulation and brain function.


Magnolia (Magnolia officianalis) - another good herb for sleep that's impacted by anxiety.


Mimosa (Mimosa pudica) - for those who are under a lot of stress, are exhausted, anxious and just can't get going in the morning. This is a good herb for nighttime use and hard-to-treat insomnia. Magnolia also supports low thyroid function, low blood pressure, and poor memory.


The Ideal Sleep Schedule

For healing and restoration, sleep is better than any herb or supplement you can take. You will not heal if you’re not sleeping well and getting deep, restful sleep.


Restoration happens at night with physical healing happening from 10pm to 2am and mental/emotional healing happening from 2am to 6-7am. So the ideal bedtime is around 10pm and ideal waking time is around 7am. I’m talking to you, night owls! Many of us get to bed too late (including me) so try to get to sleep earlier for more refreshing sleep.



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In health,

Dr. Jamie


Resources

Bove, M. (2023, July 12). Targeting the 24-Hour Circadian Cycle with Botanical Adaptogens [Webinar]. Gaia Herbs Pro. https://professionals.gaiaherbs.com/Events/EventTargetingthe24-HourCircadianCyclewithBotanicalAdaptogens



This website is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.





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