17 Best Plants & Herbs For Sleep: Ending Insomnia The Natural Way!

Cup of chamomile tea in someone's hand

Last Updated on November 12, 2022 by theworldofsleepstaff

The importance of getting adequate rest and sleep cannot be understated. However many people find it difficult to have a rejuvenating sleep, even if they are tired after having a long day.

There are different sleep-inducing medicines out there, however most of these pharmaceutical formulations have some undesirable side effects such as weakness and lethargy. Some even have side effects that may lead to serious medical conditions later in life.

If you’ve been finding it difficult to get quality sleep and you want to finally sleep better naturally and without synthesized sleep aids, then you may want to consider going for natural herbs.

Apart from having little to no side effects, using natural plants and herbs for sleep is a better and healthier choice too. In addition to containing powerful and effective ingredients to enhance quality sleep, herbs can also inspire calmness and reduce anxiety.

Read on to discover the best herbs for sleep and insomnia, so you can finally say goodbye to tossing and turning all through the night.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes and should not be taken as medical and professional advice, nor do we claim it as accurate or reflect the view of a homoeopath or doctor. Always consult your doctor or natural health practitioner for questions when trying something new, especially as herbs can interact with existing medication.

Portrait of young woman wearing sleep mask during sleeping on the bed.

17 Incredible Natural Herbs That Can Help You Sleep Better

1. Ashwagandha

Commonly called Indian ginseng – because it is native to India – ashwagandha has been used since ancient times as a sleep aid.

Ashwagandha contains several ingredients that are responsible for its sleep inducing effect. One of which is the triethylene glycol present in its leaf.

This study confirmed and concluded that the water extract from ashwagandha which contained triethylene glycol proved effective in inducing sleep in the test subjects.

Alongside this, the withanolides in ashwagandha have also been confirmed to have stress easing properties that will have you relaxing and falling asleep in no time.

Ashwagandha comes in the form of powders, pills, tea and even gummies, and is well known for being one of the best herbs for sleep.


2. California Poppy

Just as its name implies, California poppy is a native California plant.

Different parts of the plant – especially the shoot part – are often used for their calming and sleep – inducing effects.

It is usually combined with other herbs to treat a variety of illnesses such as depression, nervousness and different psychiatric conditions.

California poppy works by improving the response of GABA, a neurotransmitter that dampens impulses, reduces anxiety and inspires calmness.

A study carried out on 36 people suffering from insomnia concluded that “an improvement in sleep quality and quantity, with a decrease in insomnia induced daytime impairment was seen” in the subjects who took a supplement combination of California Poppy and Valerian root.

3. Chamomile

Any list of best herbs for sleep and insomnia wouldn’t be complete without including chamomile. Anyone who knows their herbs will confirm that chamomile is one of the most effective herbs in inducing quality sleep.

It has been long in use for centuries for many ailments including insomnia, menstrual cramps, ulcers, rheumatic pain and other disorders.

Apigenin, an antioxidant present in chamomile, is the main ingredient responsible for chamomile’s effectiveness in getting better sleep.

Different studies on chamomile’s sleep inducing effect all confirmed that this herb is indeed the GAHSB of sleeping herbs.

You can take chamomile as tea, a supplement pill and in other pharmaceutical dosage forms.

Homeopathic balls in bottles and chamomile flower on the background of nature.
iStock.com/Oksana Restenko

4. Vervain

This herbal remedy is one of the best for treating insomnia. Vervain is a mild sedative that reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It calms nervous tension and anxiety in addition to its stress-relieving abilities.

Vervain has also been used to treat sleepiness-related conditions from adrenal overload to tension headaches, depression, and muscle tension.

Vervain, according to a study, is confirmed to have sedative effects, which is why it helps people fall asleep.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has various health benefits that may help in improving sleep quality, making it one of the best plants and herbs for sleep.

For one, it is a great relaxing agent. Additionally, it helps to reduce the stress and tension that may have accumulated in  your muscles over the day.

After a long stressful day, you can take some with a glass of warm milk or combine it with other herbs to further enhance your sleep schedule experience.

iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

6. Holy Basil

If you’ve been having problems sleeping, then maybe it’s time to include holy basil in your nightly routine. Besides the plethora of benefits it is said to have, holy basil is purported to have stress and anxiety reliving properties – making it a great sleep aid.

According to this study, test subjects who took holy basil with their meal intake reported feeling more relaxed, less anxious and stressed.

Additionally, holy basil can help to reduce blood sugar. If your blood sugar is on the rise, it will cause a series of symptoms that will make it difficult to fall asleep.

However, taking a cup of holy basil tea or supplements containing holy basil can lessen the severity of such symptoms.

7. Mint

Mint is another amazing herb that helps induce sleep. It can be taken in several ways, however, one of the best ways to consume mint to enjoy its benefits is by adding them to drinks.

In addition to helping you sleep better, drinking mint tea before bed can help you feel naturally more refreshed and active the next morning and throughout the day. This ability to promote sleep is a result of their calming effect on the body.

According to a study, it had been proven that consuming various mints can lessen exhaustion and promote muscle relaxation, both of which promote relaxation and sleep. It’s easily one of the best herbs for sleep.

iStock.com/Liudmyla Yaremenko

8. Hops

Hops (Humulus lupulus) is another effective herb for inducing sleep as their capacity to reduce body temperature—an essential psychological step before causing drowsiness and kicking off the body’s sleep process—contributes to its potential to make people fall asleep.

A study also stated that hops increase the brain’s GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels, which are naturally created to suppress the central nervous system and increase calmness thereby inducing sleep.

9. Lavender

Lavender is popular for its sedative, antidepressive and calming properties. Its essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to induce relaxation.

It has also been discovered that lavender is capable of increasing the amount of slow and deep wave pattern of its users.

In a study carried out on subjects who inhaled lavender oil and applied it on their body, the participants reported that not only did they feel less stressed and more relaxed, but they also felt more energized.

So if you want to get a relaxing night rest and wake up energized, invest in some lavender essential oil or supplements. It’s one of the best herbs for sleep for good reason.

Moisturizing cream and lavender on wooden background

10. Passion Flower

When combined with other natural sleep inducing herbs, passion flower indicated the possibility of being effective in the treatment of insomnia.

This study confirmed that the combination had the same effect as, zolpidem, a sleeping pill, in terms of improved sleep time and quality and severity of insomnia.

So if you’re finding it difficult to sleep at night, simply take a cup of passion flower tea instead of stressing your liver and kidneys by taking sleeping tablets that will most likely come with other side effects.

11. Valerian Root

The roots of Valeriana officianalis contain some properties that may help to induce sleep. It has been used for this purpose since the early medical ages in Greece and Roman, and was used to effectively treat cramps, tiredness and insomnia.

Valerian root contains various chemical components such as iridoids, lignans, flavonoids and others that help promote sleep.

While the studies carried on the plant are not very extensive, there is the probability that it works for insomnia.

In fact, due to how effective it is, a survey carried out on the plant confirmed that many people used valerian root as a treatment for insomnia more than they used melatonin.

Valerian herb root and flowers with dropper bottle and mortar with pestle over oak background.

12. St John’s Wort

Although it is classified as a weed because of how fast and easily it grows, St John’s wort is also an herb.

It has been in used in the formulation of OTC (Over the counter) medicines for the treatment of mild depression, anxiety and insomnia.

St John’s wort works as a sleeping agent primarily because of its abilities to increase the brain’s activities and enhance moods via 2 chemicals –  hypercin and hyperforin.

In addition, St John’s wort helps to increase the production of the body’s sleep hormone, melatonin, in order to give rise to a better and more quality of sleep.

A 2007 study published in the National Library Medicine confirmed that St John’s Wort improved symptoms of sleep deprivation and led to other positive therapeutic effects like improved locomotor activity.

However, it should be taken with extreme care and caution as it can interact with other medications.

13. Oats

The health benefits of oats cannot be overemphasized. Oatmeal isn’t even a common meal choice for most individuals. Yet, they are a very helpful plant that not only promotes sleep but also reduces stress. When taken, they aid in promoting tranquillity.

The ability of oats to reduce fatigue is another remarkable quality. The majority of sleep aids just help you fall asleep; but when you wake up, you’re still fatigued and lack any sense of peace. When consumed, oats counteract the negative effects of fatigue, anxiety, and stress. The result is a peaceful and undisturbed sleep.

Oats’ ability to induce sleep is a result of their high content of tryptophan. Tryptophan however is a type of amino acid that helps the body make serotonin and melatonin which are key determinants of your sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin especially helps you sleep well and can also provide relief from insomnia.

Healthy breakfast Organic oat flakes in a wooden bowl

14. Magnolia Bark

Another significant herb that promotes sleep is magnolia bark. Although magnolia bark serves a variety of different purposes, it also possesses sedative properties that directly promote sleep.

In addition to aiding in sleep, it also has a positive indirect effect on stress and anxiety. The ability of magnolia bark to boost GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) activity accounts for its ability to induce sleep.

People with decreased GABA activity are more prone to insomnia and other sleep issues since GABA is crucial for sleep. It functions by reducing brain activity, allowing the body and mind to unwind, and promoting sleep.

15. Ginseng

Ginseng is a common, household Chinese medicine. It has several acclaimed health benefits, one of which is its ability to affect sleep positively.

Although there are different species of ginseng, most of them share these acclaimed benefits, however, red ginseng is the best for sleeping.

This 2013 study confirmed that ginseng is indeed effective in improving sleep.

The study was carried out on 15 male participants within the age range of 15 to 37 years. They were administered 1500 milligrams of red ginseng thrice daily. At the end of the study, it was discovered that sleep efficacy significantly increased while total waking time significantly reduced.

Fresh ginseng and dry slices

16. Wild Lettuce

Known for its sedative and relaxing effects, wild lettuce is used in a variety of medical formulations. It contains a milky white fluid called lactucaruium, which is primarily responsible for its calming properties

If you have toddlers or children who are usually restless or hyper and find sleeping difficult, wild lettuce is a great homeopathic sleep remedy for them.

This is because the plant is mild and has little to no side effects.

Extract from wild lettuce’s seed, leaves and latex all have calming properties on the nerves. This claim is further backed by a study that evaluated the sedative and hypnotic properties of thelactucin and lactucopicrin content of the seed extract.

The study concluded that lettuce is an interesting and cheap source of sleep potentiating materials and antioxidant polyphenols.

17. Lemon

Lemon has a wide variety of uses, especially because of its calming and delightful scent. However, lemon can also be a potent natural sleep remedy.

It is a natural stress relief medicine and when paired with valerian, a study confirmed it lowered sleeplessness by 43%.

It also contains a high level of rosmarinic acid which interacts with the GABA transmitter to induce feeling of relaxations.

So next time you want to take a cup of tea and you want to have a sound sleep, add some lemon to your drink.

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Final Thoughts

Sleep is essential for the smooth running of the human body; so it’s quite unfortunate that a lot of folks find it difficult to get an adequate and rejuvenating night rest. While there are a plethora of medicines that can help with this condition, most of them come with undesirable side effects.

Luckily natural herbs and plants have been used since ancient times to improve sleep quality and their relevance has not diminished. However, before you decide to add any of these herbs and their supplements to your regimen, consult your medical advisor for safety purposes.