December 9, 2012

Natural Sleep: Herbal Sleep Pillows

Herbal Dream Pillows

How many of you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night? More like 6? Or maybe you have trouble getting to sleep in the first place. Or maybe you have a child. A loving child who, at bedtime, suddenly needs to use the bathroom or is dying of thirst or is scared of the monsters under the bed.

As for me, I've always been a night owl. If there was an overnight shift available, it was mine. Not necessarily because I wanted it, but because they knew I wouldn't complain. And they knew I would have no problems staying awake.  Sleep has always been the one avenue to good health that I refused to take.

I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to stay up and do important things. Fun things. Just anything. Because if I didn't sleep, I had more time. You can sleep when you die, right? But I don't want to be a night owl anymore. I want to sleep. And I want to wake up with the sun and not be tired (at least until I have a baby). I always thought if I didn't sleep, I would be more productive. I would have more time to do things I needed or wanted to do. But I've been lying to myself. After years and years of living off 5 or less hours of sleep, I haven't gotten any more accomplished than the people sleeping 8 hours a night. Maybe I've been accomplishing less, because I'm so tired all the time.


So I've finally decided...it's about time I sleep. There is a lot of contradictory information out there about sleep -- particularly about how much we need. There are also many studies about sleep deprivation. And one thing I do know is, there are many negative consequences to sleep deprivation. Don't believe me? Look it up. (Here's just one article.) We need sleep. Somewhere around 8 hours of sleep. So how do we get it -- naturally, of course -- when our minds and our lives never slow down?

Herbal Dream Pillows

Sleep pillows, or bag or sachets or whatever you want to call them, are filled with herbs that promote relaxation and induce sleep. They allow you to sleep soundly and encourage positive dreams (depending on the herbs you use).

I made these awhile ago for Christmas gifts and decided to throw one (a plain one -- not a cute little froggy) in my pillowcase. I slept. And I slept well. And I woke up vividly aware of the dream I just had. I'm not saying this will happen for everyone, but it's worth a try. And, no worries, I'm keeping these simple. I'm not extremely crafty and I don't expect everyone to know how to sew or to even want to try. Check out my bags for the kids. I hand-sewed them closed. Probably should have asked someone else to do it...


Homemade Herbal Sleep Pillow

The Herbs (I purchase my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
  • Lavender: Promotes relaxation. Soothes. Eases headaches.
  • Rose petals: Brings love and warmth.
  • Mugwort: Helps with remembering dreams.
  • Rosemary: Promotes deep sleep. Keeps the bad dreams away. (use just a little)
  • Chamomile: Keeps the bad dreams away. Promotes relaxation and calming.
  • Calendula: Restful sleep
  • Hops: Promotes relaxation and peaceful sleep.
  • Lemon balm: Relieves stress and anxiety. Helps with headaches and insomnia.
Mix a combination of herbs in a container, taking care not too add too much of strong smelling or over stimulating herbs, such as rosemary. Some herbs, such as the ones listed above, are useful and safe in a dream pillow. But there are also some herbs that should not be used. Research herbs or consult an herbalist before combining them yourself.

Example: Mix together equal parts lavender and chamomile (safe for children) to encourage sleep, relaxation, and keep away bad dreams.

Some herbs to avoid: artemisia, bay, Russian tarragon, sage, tansy, and orrisroot.

Simple options: 
  • Use lavender flowers only. Lavender is known for it's soothing sedative effect. You can purchase the dried flowers online or some health food stores sell lavender and other herbs in bulk (Earth Fare in my area sells quite a few). Get them at Mountain Rose Herbs (here) or Amazon (here).
  • Dream Herbs mix from Mountain Rose Herbs

The Pillow/Bag

Choose a natural fabric or fiber, such as cotton or muslin. Sew this in any shape you wish, leaving one side open for the herbs.

OR

Simple option: Use small muslin bags like the ones found at Mountain Rose Herbs (here) or Amazon (here).

Fill the bag with herbs (I use less for kid's pillows).  Tie (can be refilled later) or sew the bags closed after adding herbs. I tied the bags for adults and sewed them closed for the kids. I don't want the kids opening them, spilling them, trying to eat them, etc. (For babies, you can either put the bag under the crib mattress or hang/place near the sleeping area.)

If using plain muslin bags, you may prefer to decorate them. For the kids' pillows, I used iron-ons from Michaels. Iron them on before putting in herbs. If you are skilled, you could sew/stitch on initials or other designs. Or since no one will see them in your pillow anyway, leave them plain.


Have you ever used herbs to help you sleep?

Herbal Dream Pillows


Sources:
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm

http://mountainroseblog.com/herbal-sleep-dream-pillows/



*****Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or other healthcare professional. This is informational purposes only. The content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your doctor, dietitian, or other healthcare professional regarding any medical condition or treatment and before making any dietary, health, or lifestyle changes.****



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