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MOTHER EARTH NEWS Senior Editor K.C. Compton answers a reader question: “I sometimes have trouble sleeping. What herbs would you recommend?” Chamomile. A cup of chamomile tea before bed will help you unwind and fall asleep faster. Steep a heaping tablespoon of the dried flowers in boiling water. Hops. Although this natural sleep aid is a component of beer, tossing back a glass of beer before bed won’t have the same effect as drinking a tea made from 1 to 2 teaspoons of hops flowers (known as “strobophiles”), which will often ease you into a deep, restful sleep. The scent is soothing, too. Hops work well on their own, but paired with chamomile and lavender, they make a particularly slumber-inducing herbal sachet to tuck into your pillow. Valerian. This plant is a well-researched sedative. In a Swedish study of valerian’s tranquilizing effects on those with insomnia, almost 90 percent of participants said this herb helped them fall asleep. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried valerian root to make a tea. California poppy. Preliminary studies confirm that the California poppy has mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects, making it a good slumber-inducer. Although it is a relative of the opium poppy, the California poppy doesn’t contain opiates, so using it won’t cause dependence problems. Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried aerial parts of the plant in boiling water to make a relaxing tea.
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