Why Lavender is the Secret to a Good Night’s SleepBy Dr Dunner September 20, 2018
Lavender is a flowering herb known for its delightful fragrance and graceful, wild beauty. Throughout history, lavender has also been known for its calming, health-boosting properties.
Ancient Romans first discovered lavender’s aromatherapeutic power, and used it to scent their baths, bedding, clothing and hair. The Roman Empire also saw the discovery of lavender’s medicinal potential. Queen Elizabeth I is reported to have used lavender tea to treat her migraines. Through time, lavender has been known as a disinfectant, mood stabilizer, burn relief agent, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, circulation-booster, fever reducer… the list goes on.
Lavender is also a popular natural solution to sleeplessness. Satchels of the dried flower are sold as bedside satchels, essential oils are marketed as pillowcase scenters, and bedroom diffusers disperse puffs of lavender-infused mist. Though lavender is an excellent aromatherapeutic herb, many people are not aware of the sleep-promoting benefits of ingesting lavender as an herbal supplement.
As an all-natural sleep aid, lavender provides relief from insomnia and sleeplessness without the side effects of its prescription counterparts. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines for sleep can cause dependence and prompt withdrawal symptoms if stopped. Herbal supplements like lavender, meanwhile, have no common side effects and do not lead to bodily dependence. Currently, lavender has the highest safety rating in the Botanical Safety Handbook.
Decreases time to get to sleep
Lavender draws its effectiveness from its composition of linalyl acetate and linalool, calming phytochemicals (chemicals from plants) that are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream for fast-acting sleep support. These compounds inhibit select neurotransmitters to create a sleepy, anxiety-reducing effect. Lavender is well-known as a natural anxiolytic (anxiety-reducer). Lavender interacts with neurotransmitter GABA to quiet the brain and calm the central nervous system, thereby reducing the agitation, anger, aggression and restlessness that a person might feel throughout the day. Lavender relaxes the body, promoting effortless passage into sleep.
Increases sleep duration and quality
Lavender has shown to increase sleep duration, and to boost the percentage of deep, slow-wave sleep in study participants. Slow-wave sleep (REM sleep stages 3 and 4) are known to play an important role in brain recovery and rejuvenation. Participants reported feelings of restoration and greater energy the next morning. Sleep is a critical time during which the body flushes toxic molecules that build up during the waking hours, and lavender boosts sleep quality and duration.
Relieves symptoms of stress and anxiety
Many people experience difficulty falling asleep because their minds churn with stress and anxious thinking once they try to relax; lavender’s stress-relieving properties have significant implications for this group. A multi-center, double-blind, randomized study of an oral lavender medication found that it lowered anxiety about as effectively as a low dose of the sedative drug Ativan (lorazepram). Unlike its prescription counterparts, however, lavender carries very low risk of side effects. One study found that a daily cup of lavender tea reduced stress and depression among postnatal women. This calming effect disappeared after the course of the tea regimen. Another study by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that regular lavender supplementation boosted sleep consistency while reducing anxiety, restlessness and symptoms of depression.
At Dr.Dünner, we believe in balancing traditional herbalism with modern scientific research; both have proven that lavender is a natural powerhouse. That’s why our expert herbalists maximize its potency and blend it synergistically with other potent herbs for our Swiss Bedtime Blend. Cheers to a good night’s rest!