Getting a good night’s restful sleep is no joke. The quality of our sleep affects our productivity, happiness, beauty, and ability to function at our highest levels. In this article, I share my favorite sleep remedy that I’ve been using for nearly a decade.
For me, it’s been nothing short of a wonder tincture that has helped me get off all the OTC and Rx sleep aids I was addicted to before I learned how to use herbs for my wellness.
My husband likes to laugh and say that this deep sleep herbal blend saved our marriage! He may be right! I am a very light sleeper, and I struggle with anxious thoughts…and he happens to snore "once in awhile." So, I need a little help with sleep to help me get a good night’s rest.
There are many herbs you can use to help you get some restful sleep without waking up groggy and feeling half-baked the next day.
NOTE: This tincture is quite strong, so start off slow, and build to where you need to be! This is called “titrating” the dose, or amount you take. The wonderful thing about it is that it's easy to make, bottle, and use!
If you or a family member have some trouble drifting off to sleep and have already tried other herbal remedies, this potion may do the trick for you!
This recipe is based on Rosemary Gladstar's "Deep Sleep" blend. I've adapted the recipe a bit with amounts of herbs, otherwise it is essentially the same. You can find her book, Medicinal Herbs for Beginners, which I cannot recommend enough if you are just starting out learning herbalism. It’s really the best book I recommend for my students, too.
I wish I could express just how empowering it is to make your own plant medicine! When people tell me about all the medications they are taking, I just have to think to myself, "Thank goodness I can make my own!"
I know what my medicines are made of, where the plants come from, and possibly most important of all: They WORK! The other great thing about making your own plant medicine is that you have some leeway to play with the ingredients and find out what works best for YOU.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this recipe for an herbal sleep aid!
Although there are many many herbs with sedative and relaxing actions, (Passion Flower, Skullcap, Chamomile, Oat Straw...to name just a few), I love this particular combination I'm about to share with you. Hops and Lavender are gentle and tasty, while the Valerian tops the list as a sleep aid herbal powerhouse!
If you'd like to read a great introduction article to find out more about What an Herbal Tincture Is and How to Make One, here you go!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article, mainly to Amazon. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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The Science Behind Valerian, Hops, and Lavender: Why They Work
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis):
Valerian root is generally harvested in the fall, after the plant has fed the root through the spring and the summer. It's a pretty stinky root, actually. Many people compare its scent to stinky feet or cheese. Personally, I find it very earthy and grounding, but yes, it can be smelly, especially if you spill some tincture like I did once. Whew!
If you are trying to wean yourself off sleep aids, whether OTC or Rx, there is scientific evidence that Valerian Root is one of the best herbs for this. In fact, it was this formulation that helped me personally to stop using sleep aids. You can read about my journey from OTC/Rx to Plant Medicine here.
In addition to potentially helping with difficulties getting restful sleep (source), valerian is useful for soothing nerves and feelings of being over-stressed. It is a nervine herb and therefore helps support the nervous system.
Its sedative qualities may also help with menstrual cramps (for myself, I find Valerian too strong for this) as well as hot flashes and menopausal symptoms. One clinical study found that valerian helps with emotional, behavioral, and physical issues the study participants deal with during PMS (premenstrual syndrome). (Source)
Valerian Root is sometimes used to help with feelings of sadness, especially if it is associated with anxiousness. It may calm and soothe emotions.
NOTE: You can find valerian in capsule form, however, the best results come from the actual herb, in my experience. In fact, I feel so strongly about this, I simply do not recommend most supplements in capsule form, unless you make them yourself.
Valerian is generally considered a safe herb for most people to use, even for children in small amounts and for shorter periods of time.
Safety Notes for Valerian:
Valerian may cause stomach upset in some people. Also, for people with ADHD, Valerian may have the opposite effect, rather like coffee. Valerian is thought to slow down the nervous system in most people, so if you are planning a surgery that requires anesthesia, you should definitely let your doctor know you are taking it.
If you are taking any sort of anti-depressant or drug for anxiety (such as Xanax) or sedative medications, you should discuss using valerian with your doctor before taking it because valerian may enhance the effects of these kinds of medications.
Speaking from my own experience: Valerian actually makes me go right to sleep and stay asleep. And when I wake up, I feel terrific!
Hops (Humulus lupulus):
If you’re a beer drinker, then you’re probably quite familiar with hops! It's the herb contained in most beers that gives it its nice bitter "hoppy" taste. But did you know that Hops also has medicinal qualities?
It's not only a diuretic, helping you release fluids, but also soporific and relaxing nervine too. This means that hops is helpful to get you to sleep! In fact, one clinical study showed that hops is effective in helping decrease nocturnal activity, and this helps you sleep longer!
Although this post is all about how to make a great bedtime tincture blend, you can make water infusions from hops (and other herbs) for a nice bedtime tea as well.
Hops is generally considered a safe herb, however, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should refrain unless a medical doctor gives you the go-ahead. Hops has been known to cause mild stomach upset and possible diarrhea. You'd probably have to ingest quite a lot, but care should still be taken.
I purchase my organic hops HERE.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia):
Oh...Lavender!! Everyone just loves Lavender! And for good reason too!
First, it has a beautiful and distinctive scent---a favorite of many. It's a mild relaxant, and may help with feelings of sadness, self-doubt and fear. It's also great for nausea, especially that caused by motion sickness (I know this from personal experience---just dab some Lavender Essential Oil behind your ears.).
Finally, and for its main purpose in this tincture blend, it can help with difficulty sleeping. Several clinical studies show that lavender has a significant positive effect on sleep quality. (Source)
The other reason it's such a nice addition to this blend is that the taste helps offset the bitter and (stinky?) tastes of the valerian and hops.
Want some absolutely amazing Lavender? You can buy organic Lavender flowers in different grades HERE.Click to Get the FREE 5 Day Get Started Using Herbs eMail Course!
How to Use Your Deep Sleep Tincture Blend:
Regardless of whether you decide to bottle your tinctures in a 1 oz, 2 oz, or 4 oz bottle with a dropper, the dropper amounts of dropper bottles are fairly standard, I have found. Start with a small amount---one full dropper full, and increase as needed to up to 3 full droppers full at a time.
Three FULL droppers is about 1/2 teaspoon of tincture, so you can see you are not using very much alcohol, probably less than the amount in a dose of over the counter cough syrup!
Take a dropper full about an hour before bedtime to relax, then take the rest right before bed. You can also take a little more in the middle of the night if needed, but I wouldn't take too much within a couple of hours of having to wake up. For myself, I take it right before bed, and it works quickly.
**NOTE: Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. If I do, and it’s too close to morning, but I still want to get back to sleep, I have a wonderful massage oil I like to use that works every time. You can watch a video of me making it here, with directions.
Let the tincture sit under your tongue for a few seconds, as the liquid will actually begin to be absorbed quickly through the lining of your mouth.
A note about the taste: Some people just cannot stand the taste. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to dilute it in a bit of tea or other liquid. I just take it straight.
Ingredients & Tools to Make a Tincture for Deep, Restful Sleep
1. Organic Valerian Root, cut and sifted, is best in my opinion. You can buy Valerian powder or powder it yourself, however, it is very difficult to strain out all the matter, and I have found it makes no difference in the strength or quality. I like cut and sifted best.
4. Mason jar----if this is your first time trying this out, you may want to start with a pint or quart size jar. The jar in the picture is a half-gallon jar. The link is for a quart size Mason Jar case.
5. 80 proof or stronger alcohol as the solvent. I use Vodka, organic when possible! You can also use Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, etc.
6. Time, Sun, and Positive Energy. OK---I know that sounds a little Woo-Woo, but honestly, there may be some proof that your energetics affect liquids, among other things--like people. Although I'm not sure if all this is true, it sure doesn't hurt, right? :-) Check out this information about Dr. Masaru Emoto.
How to Make Your Sleep Tincture for a Great Night's Sleep!
NOTE: I use the traditional herbalists' system of "parts." This means that once you decide what one "part" is, you then base all the measurements on this amount. For example, you can decide to use a scoop as a "part," or a traditional measuring cup, such as 1/8 c as one part. It all depends on the size of your container, really.
You can find out more about using herbs and making formulations in my 5 Day Beginning Herbalism Course, if you like!
Step 1. Take 2 parts Valerian Root and place in the jar.
Step 2. Use 1 part each Hops and Lavender flowers, and place in the jar.
**At this point the jar should be between one-third and half full.
Step 3. Pour in your alcohol to within an inch of the top. Put the lid on!
Step 4. Shake every few days really well.
Step 5. Store it for four to six weeks: This part is another gray area for herbalists. Some believe you should put your processing tincture in a dark cupboard. I, like some others, prefer the solar infusion method. This means letting it infuse in the sun—-like in a sunny window.
I prefer the sunny window, myself. The reasons I like this method best is that a) I can see my tinctures daily, and therefore, b) I don't forget to give them a good little shake, and c) I think the sun adds some great energy to the tincture, and finally d) the warmth helps the herbs break down faster.
So, I place mine in a sunny window where the herbs get the heat and the sunlight. In many years, I've never had a problem with this method! Shake once a day or even every couple of days is fine.
Step 6. Let infuse for at least 4 weeks to 6 weeks. You can let your tinctures infuse for longer than that if you want. I once forgot one, and it infused for over a year! It turned out just fine!
Final Thoughts About Making Your Own Sleep Tincture
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, like I was, this tincture may be helpful for your overall health. If you don’t like the thought of taking alcohol, you can also make a tea from it. You can find directions for making the perfect herbal tea here, if you like.
Honestly, though, this is, for me, truly the best sleep remedy I’ve ever experienced and I imagine ever will.
You might enjoy these related articles, too!
And there are literally hundreds more on the website or on my YouTube channel. I hope you’ll go explore!
And don’t forget! Sign up to get my free 5 Day Get Started Using Herbs email course! It’s a good beginning for beginning your journey into learning herbalism.
Have you ever made any of your own home remedies? What are your thoughts about tinctures? Leave comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments section! I love hearing from you!
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
P.S. I hope you'll sign up for our Newsletter, if you haven't already! You'll get the newsletter plus access to the password protected Resource Library when you do! You’ll love what’s inside (like this eBook on How to Relax Using Herbs!)
Franco, L.; et. al.; The Sedative Effects of Hops (Humulus lupulus), a Component of Beer, on the Activity Rest/Rhythm; doi: 10.1556/ APhysiol.99.2012.2.6. Retrieved 5/19/2020 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22849837/ .
Moghadam, Z.; et.al.; The Effect of Valerian Root Extract on Pre Menstrual Symptoms. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jul; 6(3): 309–315. Published online 2016 Jan 19. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2015.09.001 Retrieved 5/19/2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4936757/
National Institute of Health., Valerian Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/; Retrieved 5/19/2020
Other, Not-as-Scientific, Sources:
Disclaimer: The information in this article, elsewhere on my blog, in publications, in my shop sites, in conversations, and on labels is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any medical condition. I am not a doctor, I am an herbalist; and I simply share my personal opinions based on study, training, and experience. Please see a medical professional for concerns, especially if pregnant, nursing, or on medications. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.