If you struggle to get a good night's sleep regularly, the chances are that you might need plant extracts in your life. We're not talking about picking the petals from any random daisies here. More like embracing mother earth's ancient remedies that in recent years may have been left off your list of go-to life aids.
For some, getting the required rest one needs at the end of the day can feel like a living nightmare at times. We are familiar with the scene all too well. You get yourself ready for a good rest; perhaps a clean set of pj's, clean sheets and even dare we say, a break from screens 30 minutes before your intended flight to dreamland. Then, just when you think you're about to enter your snooze, nothing happens. The ability to drift off peacefully seems like a distant destination and a journey that can last a prolonged period of time. So what's a sleeping beauty got to do to get some quality zzz's round here. Two words. Plant extracts.
What Are Plant Extracts?
Plants are good for us. Period. Well, okay, a lot of plants are good for us, and there's probably a lot that aren't so good for us. But the point is that without the power of plants to fuel us, there would inevitably be no us. But what we're interested in here is the reason that they are good for us. Aside from a variety of nutritional benefits that plants can provide, many plants will have a little something that distinguishes them from the rest. That Je nais se quoi if you will.
From the rich content of vitamin c found in oranges to CBD found in hemp, plant extracts are defined as a desirable substance that is removed from the plant tissue which is then used for a specific reason.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an incredible two-thirds of adults in developed countries don't manage to get the recommended eight hours sleep that they are supposed to. What's the problem, we hear you ask? It's only a bit of sleep. Well, actually sleep is pretty darn important to the body and failure to get the necessary kip you need may have some pretty disastrous consequences.
Those who have limited sleep, less than six hours are at risk of damaging the immune system, which can more than double the risk of cancer. If you thought that was bad, a continuous lack of sleep for the duration of just one week could wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels to such an extent that you become pre-diabetic. And if you're feeling somewhat famished, the chances are that this may be down to a bad night's sleep too. Should you miss out on some precious hours of sleep, the concentration of hormones known for making you feel hungry increases. In contrast, the hormone responsible for signalling your satisfaction after a hearty meal will, at the same time, be suppressed.
We all know that a bad night's sleep can leave you feeling a little on the grumpy side, and as with anything, there is a reason for this. A night of disrupted sleep is no friend of the brain and is known to contribute to conditions such as anxiety and depression.
A good night's sleep is more than just a way to recharge our batteries, and the benefits can not be underestimated. A proper good night's sleep can help reduce stress levels, improve your memory, lower your blood pressure, will help you maintain your weight and will ultimately put you in a better overall mood.
What Stops Us From Getting a Good Night's Sleep?
There are some obvious and not so obvious explanations for a bad night's sleep. Drinking caffeine, not sleeping in a dark room, and being surrounded by loud noise are the immediate issues that we can recognise as critical contributors to poor sleep. Then there are the not so apparent explanations; like too much screen time as you're trying to switch off, or being dead set on what time bedtime is every night. However, there are two factors that no matter how hard you try to escape, may seem ever-present in your mind - stress and anxiety.
If you do the maths, it's no wonder that two-thirds of folk in two developed countries suffer from poor sleep. The constant and continuous need to keep up with the Jones'; the crunch meeting taking place the next morning; the lack of likes on your social media post. Whatever the reason for your stress and pangs of anxiety, the fact is it exists, and without remedying the situation, your good nights' sleep will be left waiting around until you do.
The conveyor belt of noise that passes through your mind as you rest your head on your pillow essentially stops the brain's restorative function from taking place, thus creating additional problems that didn't need to be there in the first place.
What Do Plant Extracts Have to Do With It?
While you can make some adjustments to your life such as limiting the screen time you have in the evening and addressing various scenarios that steal your attention, there are a variety of plant extracts that can help you snooze like a sloth on its day off. Whether its terpenes, cannabinoids or antioxidants, plants contain some pretty special ingredients that, when extracted, can be consumed as an alternative remedy to your sleep problems. Let's take a look at our top five plant extracts that can contribute to you getting the rest that your body needs.
Which Plants Can Help You Sleep?
Extracted from the hemp plant, CBD is one plant extract that is in its early stages of scientific and medical exploration. While the scientific community is yet to identify how CBD can help you sleep, there is evidence that shows that people have been using the cannabis plant for medicinal and ritual reasons for millennia. What we do know is mostly anecdotal, though there have been some scientific studies conducted including one such study involving insomnia patients which showed that CBD significantly reduced their symptoms. There is also evidence that CBD has been known to reduce anxiety and stress levels, which in turn may lead you to enjoy a particularly good night sleep. Supporting your wellbeing and the healthy functioning of your organs, CBD is quickly becoming a popular plant extract that has numerous benefits.
You may feel you're au fait with the fragrance of Lavender, but did you know that it's so much more than a scent? Used in a variety of cosmetic products for its distinct smell, Lavender is also used by many as an oral supplement. Great for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and physical pain, Lavender is often used as a sedative that will induce a wave of relaxation and calm. If you've ever enjoyed the luxury of a deep massage, your masseuse would likely have used a Lavender based aromatherapy oil. Studies show that Lavender can improve the quality of your sleep by increasing the duration of your deep sleep cycle.
Found in Bay, Hops and Cannabis plants, the terpene Myrcene is a plant extraction that is well worth your attention. Mostly responsible for the aroma, terpenes are molecules found in plants, fruits and vegetables, limonene, for instance, is the terpene responsible for citrus flavours. But like Lavender, terpenes are so much more than scent. With 20,000 terpenes known to exist, extracts like Mycrene can have a sedative effect and have been used as a herbal remedy throughout history.
If you're keen on falling asleep quickly, Valerian or Valerian Root might be the choice for you. Known to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 15 - 20 minutes, Valerian interacts with our gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is the chemical messenger that helps keep tabs on the nerve impulses taking place in your brain and nervous system. Studies show that low GABA levels are closely linked to anxiety and poor sleep.
One herbal remedy that you may be familiar with is Chamomile. Commonly consumed as a tea, chamomile extract is often thought of a mild tranquilliser that can induce a particularly lovely sleep. Containing an antioxidant called apigenin, Chamomile can reduce anxiety and help you get the good night's rest that you've been so desperately seeking.
If you have trouble sleeping and feel that you've explored all the options available to you, why not try some of these plant extracts and experience the bedtime benefits for yourself.