By Lori, Writer and Editor (and wearer of many other hats) for Upward Spiral and the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy.
For many years, I struggled with severe sleep issues. When it came time to wind down and snuggle up in bed, my mind began its infamous cycle of incessant churning. I would close my eyes and try to fall asleep, but then I’d starting thinking about a problem I was dealing with, or what was happening in the world, or who I forgot to email. I wouldn’t get a wink of shuteye. I’d toss and turn, looking at the clock as time passed. 1:00AM, 2:00AM, 3:00AM—counting how many hours of sleep I’d get if I were able to fall asleep that minute. Great, I’m only going to get four hours of sleep now. How am I going to make it through the day? I’d think, once 4:00AM rolled around. I trudged through far too many sleep-deprived days. Looking back, I don’t know how I actually did it.
To make matters worse, I’m a very sensitive sleeper. Not only do I have trouble falling asleep, but pretty much any sound will wake me up after I fall asleep, and then the trouble falling back asleep ensues. Cats who knock any and everything off of dressers and nightstands certainly don’t help. (I later discovered this is a sign that they need more playtime. Playing with them regularly made for a great remedy!)
I knew that I had to figure out a way to get quality sleep, or else I was going to melt into a puddle of despair. I tried various tinctures that were recommended to me, such as Kava and Valerian. They were bitter dropperfuls to swallow, and my sleep issues prevailed. I tried the classic act of counting sheep. I tried music and guided meditation. The latter usually worked, until the change in sound woke me up again. I tried melatonin. I was already taking an epsom salt bath every night. Nothing made a difference.
That was until a good friend of mine suggested Passion Flower.
Passion Flower is a gorgeous, unique plant that’s native to Florida. This friend has taken many classes on herbal medicine and is very knowledgeable about plants in general. She said that Passion Flower is a nervine and that it is especially helpful for treating cycles of thought. What’s amazing is, if you look at the dried herb, it contains a bunch of little curly-cues—visually representing what it can help with.
So, I got myself a couple ounces of dried Passion Flower and mixed it with dried Chamomile, which is a known sedative. Chamomile has a sweet flavor, and this balances out the bitterness of Passion Flower very well.
I started making a nighttime tea using 1 part Passion Flower and 2 parts Chamomile. I did this about an hour before bed, and my sleep drastically improved.
What helped me even more was creating a bedtime ritual with the tea, which I was inspired to do while I was editing the manual for the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy’s Foundations in Aromatherapy course. Now, about two hours before bed, I run a bath with Epsom salts, and I diffuse Lavender essential oil in my bathroom. After my bath, I make my tea and try as hard as I can not to engage with screens (my phone, computer, or television). Instead, I read or journal while drinking this magical sleep tea. It doesn’t take long before I’m yawning and my eyelids feel heavy.
I cannot emphasize enough how much these herbs have helped me. Sleep is so important for the health of our bodies, minds, and spirits. I am incredibly grateful to finally be sleeping well again most nights. If you’re experiencing anything like what I used to experience, I highly recommend trying Passion Flower.
We carry both Passion Flower and Chamomile at the Upward Spiral Store. Everyone who walks in with sleep issues hears about my love of Passion Flower and Chamomile tea—even people without sleep issues. It’s been life-changing for me. If you’re struggling to get enough sleep at night, it’s definitely worth a try!