Oh, this is one of my absolute favorites! I always had trouble sleeping, but was unaware that I was having trouble. You know, you go to bed..and it takes a while to fall asleep. Then when you do, even though you get about 7-8 hours you wake up feeling exhausted. That occurs when you’re not getting “restful and rejuvenating” sleep. Sure your body is lying there, and though you don’t realize it you could be snoring, or kicking your legs, or tossing & turning, among other situations that result in sub-par rest. It turns out I’m a kicker and toss-n-turner. Only I didn’t know it. So while I was sleeping, my body wasn’t getting the rest it needed – hence the waking up feeling like I could sleep another 10 hours, after the 10 I just had. Sometimes I would drink chamomile tea to help, and it would…for a while. Then I discovered Valerian Root! Oh man, the first time you have it, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever had before. It was so relaxing and wonderful. Of course, if you’re not fond of the taste of roots, mix with another tea like chamomile or some lemon balm leaves, perhaps even some nectar or sugar. After drinking it for so long, I can take it straight up! Randomly I’ll go without for a couple of nights (usually on a weekend), as you can build a tolerance to Valerian and you have to begin increasing the amount to see the same effect. This stuff will knock most of you out! It has been reported that in a select few, it has stimulatory properties..sorry. So try it out on a weekend in case it jolts you into an all-nighter!
I buy it already dried from the herb store, but I’ve also recently planted my own Valerian plant (the tall guy in the picture) – of which I shall harvest the roots in autumn. It is a perennial, so I think I’ll leave one to grow again the next season, since I have two plants. The leaves and buds are not useful in aiding sleep, just the roots.
For Sara’s Sleepytime tea:
1 tsp dried Valerian root
1 tsp dried (or fresh) chamomile
2-3 leaves fresh Lemon balm, torn in half
Steep all ingredients in 6 oz freshly boiled water 5 minutes (if using dried). Leave only the lemon balm leaves in the water another 10-15 minutes. What I typically do is just leave the lemon balm in there while I drink it (and this is the only situation I would allow for that), since fresh herbs aren’t as particular in extra steeping as dried herbs are.