Need Sleep?

A friend asked me to make her husband some tea to help him sleep. He's a chronic insomniac, and it's getting ridiculous. I'm very excited to do this, and although I don't know how successful I will be, I'm giving it a try.

I know any number of people who have chronic trouble getting to sleep, or once they do, they can't seem to STAY asleep. And people, we all need sleep. It makes any number of daily irritants easier to fix, ignore, or overcome. It makes us safer drivers, and better friends. And most of the people I know who have sleep issues do NOT want to use chemicals to get the sleep they need. For one thing, dependgency sux. So does failing to wake up in time for work or for a child's nightmare emergency. And often, even if the chemicals do work to help someone sleep, they are expensive prescriptions, or the sleep one gets from taking the chemicals just isn't RESTFUL.

Many people don't realize there are alternative methods out there. They may be something you are uncomfortable with (take Yoga or meditation), or something you just think is too silly (like breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, or turning off the TV and the computer a full hour before bedtime)... but if you are serious about getting sleep, you might consider giving these alternative treatments a try.

Often, these are not instant solutions-- you might have to try different combinations of them, often for a week or two or three, before you see serious results. And sometimes people (like me) want so much to believe that there is an actual CURE for their problem that once they do start sleeping normally, they stop doing the things that helped them. And of course, the problem returns. That just means that what you did WORKED-- and you need to keep doing it.

So I was excited to offer my little bit of herbal knowledge, and my little bit of alternative relaxation/breathing techniques, to help a friend. For the herbal tea mixture, I used Melissa (Lemon Balm) for its calming and sleep-encouraging properties, and some Nettle to help him breathe. Nettle does amazing things for hay fever and related allergy issues, let me tell you!

I put in a little St. John's Wort because it relaxes the nerves (in fact, this was its original use, and the memory thing was just a bonus!), and a little Feverfew because it is sometimes said to relax the mind. I also put in Peppermint to help with any digestive problems and Stivia to help with the taste. A little pinch of Stivia is enough to sweeten a whole big mug of tea, by the way. Too much gives it a bitter flavor.

Then, I put in almost as much Hopps as I'd put in all the other ingredients combined. Hopps are for sleeping.

Because my Hopps came in their dried "flower" form, I used my mortar and pestle to grind them into individual leaves, if not into a bit of powder. They are usually safe to drink, eat, or burn, and in all forms, they are supposed to promote sleep. No wonder people get tired when they drink too much dark beer! Of course, beer has all sorts of other ingredients, and most are totally unhealthy-- I don't recommend it as a sleeping aid. I do recommend it if you want to gain weight or pee a lot.

Not very many Hopps makes a lot of Hopp Petals, you see. And about 20 minutes after I ground mine, I took a nap. Which convinced me of the sleep-inducing powers of the Hopps. See, I slept in this morning. Late. And I'd only been up and about for maybe an hour when I ground the Hopps, breathed them in as I did so (no choice there, really), and used my fingers to dust off my grinding tool. Then I slept quite peacefully for about two or three hours. Imagine if I'd tried a cup of the tea!

So I'm going to try my Sleepy Tea blend tonight at bedtime to see how it tastes and how I react-- Hopps are supposed to taste pretty bitter-- and then I'm going to pass it along to my friend, with instructions.

You see, medicinal tea needs to be steeped for at least ten to twenty minutes. Without a tea bag. And I want him to stop eating, watching TV, and using a computer at least 30 minutes before he wants to sleep-- right when he should start sipping his tea. I also want him to make a big mug of it each night, and only drink half. I want the other half by his bed, so when he wakes at 2am, he can drink it down, maybe use some alternative breathing/relaxing exercises, and go back to sleep. I also want to explain that most experts suggest it can take as much as 2 weeks to a month to get the full results of a medicinal tea. I don't want him to give up if there is no improvement the first night he tries this.

I share this story because I think it is a good reminder to us all that for minor and chronic health issues, there are a lot of alternative treatments available. We just have to be willing to step outside our usual comfort zone. Drink a strange tea. Breathe in for four counts, and out for four, focusing only on the breathing deep into our tummy, and the counting to fill our minds with calm. We have to be willing to look silly resting with our backs on the floor and our legs in an L-shape with feet resting on the seat of a chair to relax our back, hips, and neck. We have to acknowledge that sometimes it takes more than one taste to decide if we like a food, and more than one session of yoga to see if it relaxes us. (Always being careful NOT to repeat things that don't feel right!)

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