Does anyone sleep like a baby during the holidays? You might after this!
With the extra holiday treats, rich foods, cocktails, emotional stressors, and holiday partys, sleep can definitely take a hit.
Although I work with people to resolve the underlying cause of poor chronic sleep……….. I find most people can use some extra support during the holidays. One of my favorite tools to use is herbs (but I have 10 other ideas below to check out too).
Whether you make yourself a nightly cup of tea, or add herbal tinctures to water- herbs are a wonderful way to support better sleep, especially during the holidays or times of extra stress.
What time is best to use sleep herbs?
The herbs listed here are powerful tools for helping relax into sleep, so enjoying them at the right time is key. I find these are best taken about 20-30 minutes before you want to go to bed. Alternatively, if you wake up in the middle of the night you can add herbal tinctures to a bit of water to help you fall right back to sleep.
What forms of herbs are best?
I love using dry herbs to make tea or adding liquid tinctures to my water, as opposed to herbs in capsules. Capsules work great too but I enjoy the simplicity on my digestive system, being close to bedtime, of taking them as tea or tincture. They are easier to assimilate and less work for the body.
Making herbal tea to help ease into sleep-
My favorite herbal sleep formula (herbs are in dried herb form)-
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)- 3 parts (3 tsp)
- Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)- 2 parts (2 tsp)
- Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)- 1 part (1 tsp)
- Lavender (Lavendula agustifola)- 1 part (1 tsp)
- Peppermint- 2 parts (2 tsp)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)- 1 part (1 tsp)
- Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)- 1/2 part (1/2 tsp
For the quantities listed here, you can make a big pot or big mason jar of tea or store some herbs in a jar to use later and just scoop out what you need. Generally I like about 2 tbsp herb per cup of hot water water for a strong medicinal tea
Steep desired amount of herbs in hot water for about 8-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy! Zzzzzz
Any of these herbs in combination or on their own will support relaxing into sleep. No need to stress about getting them all or in the exact amount. Only have chamomile? Great. Use that. I find valerian and passionflower most powerful.
If simple is better for you- There are wonderful pre made blends from your local natural grocery store that contain some of these herbs, just try using 2 or 3 bags per cup to get a stronger, medicinal effect, when needed.
Using tinctured herbs to support sleep
I love tinctures! They are easy to use, easy to absorb, and very effective.
You can use single herbal tinctures or combination blends. For sleep, I love using the same ones I put in the herbal tea blend above. I find Valerian and Chamomile do a wonderful job helping me relax into sleep and I use those tinctures for extra sleep support most often.
About 20 minutes before you are wanting to go to sleep add 1-3 dropperfuls of herbal tinctures to a small glass of water and drink. Zzzzzzz. Additionally, if you wake up in the middle of the night these are my favorite tools to get back to sleep when your mind won’t stop racing.
Again, there are wonderful blends from company’s like Gaia Herbs, Wise Woman Herbals, or Herb Pharm. Use blends or single herbs but give them a try!
Some other tricks for getting good sleep during the holidays.
I love celebrating the holidays! But there are a few things I do to support my sleep even when I am eating and drinking and being merry. Usually it comes down to supporting my nervous system, balancing blood sugar, and setting clear boundaries. Some of the things I try to do, on top of using herbs, to support sleep (and energy and overall health) during the holidays are-
- Start the day with a protein rich breakfast to support blood sugar all day (especially with all the extra treats that come with the holiday!!) Protein helps us keep our blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. What swings up/down during the day will likely do the same at night, waking you up as a result.
- Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach (of course it’s best not to drink alcohol but if you do…). I make sure to have a meal rich in fat, fiber and protein before I start drinking and a big glass of water before each drink. This will slow the alcohol and sugar from entering your bloodstream too fast and keep you from drinking alcohol to quench your thirst.
- Avoid eating treats when I am hungry. Eat food first, treats after.
- Stop drinking after dinner. I know, it might sound hard but I find drinking soda, tea, or water after dinner helps a ton for feeling and sleeping better. It is always worth it. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it will wake you up later.
- Go for a walk after dinner. This is such a fun tradition and so great for blood sugar and the nervous system.
- Set emotional boundaries- Under-react to everything- a great holiday mantra. Try to stay at emotional “sea level” during the holiday. It is not the time to resolve family issues.
- Don’t be a martyr. Ask for help. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, everything. I will say it again, ask for help. Stress is sleeps rival
- Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.
- Get outside and move your body, no matter how busy you are
- Guided imagery from apps like Breethe and Calm are very helpful for relaxing into sleep. Sometimes I like sleep stories, or guided imagery, or a body scan but my favorite is sleep hypnotherapy. All can be found on Breethe (and no, I do not get anything from them).
- A ‘protein pill’ before bed, meaning a half of a slice of turkey or a chunk of salmon or small handful of pumpkin seeds. A pill size. This is not an ideal way to eat but a small protein pill might support dysregulated blood sugar from extra holiday indulgences so you can stay asleep. You can give it a try and see how it works for you.
What do you do to support healthy sleep during the holidays? Or do you sleep like a baby?
If sleep is an issue for you all the time there is a lot you can do to resolve the underlying cause of poor sleep. But since the cause is different for everyone, the solution has to be different too. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get thinking if sleep is something you struggle with regularly-
- Do I fall asleep okay?
- Do I stay asleep all night?
- Do I wake up feeling refreshed?
- If I am lying awake is it my mind or my body keeping me up?
- Is my room dark, cool, quiet, comfortable, electronic free, and do I like who I am sleeping next to?
Things that might be contributing to chronic sleep issues include-
- stress and cortisol (stress hormone) dysregulation
- blood sugar dysregulation (this applies to all humans, even athletes)
- nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium or B6
- estrogen and progesterone fluctuations
- low melatonin (sleep hormone) production
- gut dysbiosis (parasites, fungal overgrowths, lack of certain microbes associated with sleep, etc)
- environment- cool, dark, quiet, no electronics, etc
- lack of a sleep routine or set wake time
- chronic pain
- chronic inflammation
- caffeine, especially with certain genetics
- under or over exercising
- and more
Having a hard time sleeping is a message from your body that something is off. Don’t make your body talk louder than it has to. Get curious! In the meantime, drink tea:). And for periodic sleep disturbances, try the list of 10 ideas above and see how you sleep. And join us for the Women’s Hormone Club, where we will be discussing sleep!! Do you think we know enough about our body and our hormones? I don’t! Read Fired Up Friday #4 about women, our hormones and how we need to know our body better than anyone!
Happy Holidays, Sleep well, XO Janel
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM
Hello. Welcome to Mountain Rebalance. I am obsessed with helping people understand their body better and use food/lifestyle/herbs/nutrients to get their body to function optimally. I work with people 1 on 1 and in group settings.