Herbal SLEEP PILLOWS
Filling sachets and pillows with aromatic, soothing herbs is an old tradition. Make one for yourself and keep it tucked beside your regular pillow.
Hops, lavender and chamomile are traditional herbal ingredients for sleep pillows, but modern research suggests a nose full of cape jasmine ( Gardenia jasminoides) could also help send you off to dreamland. Researchers in Germany found that the scent of cape jasmine is just as effective as valium for relieving anxiety and promoting sleep. A further study found that a mixture of essential oils that included lavender, basil, juniper, and sweet marjoram reduced sleep disturbance and improved overall wellbeing in older patients. So the next time you head off to bed, remember to place a drop of gardenia oil, or a mix of lavender, basil, juniper and sweet marjoram on a tissue and leave it beside your pillow for a better night’s sleep.
For a more traditional remedy, make a herbal sleep pillow filled with fragrant hops ( Humulus lupulus). The heavily scented essential oil from the female hops has mild sedative properties that may help alleviate insomnia and ease anxiety and tension. Fill a small bag with fresh hops and sew it closed, then sleep with the bag in such a way that you can smell it. Or slip it inside your regular pillowslip, on top of your regular pillow. Replace it every four to six months as the therapeutic properties of hops diminishes over time.
You could also try lavender in your pillow, or a variation of herbs: 1 cup dried lavender, 1 cup dried hops, ½ cup dried rose petals, ¼ cup dried lemon balm and ¼ cup dried chamomile.
For a stress-reducing blend for sachets, mix ½ cup hops, ½ cup mugwort ( Artemisia vulgaris) and 1/ cup sweet marjoram.
3 Troubled with nightmares? Try scents associated with your childhood to bring about a calming response. Rose petals and clove pinks ( Dianthus caryophyllus) may remind you of time in your grandmother’s garden when you were young, or you may remember the smell of gardenias from your mother's perfume. Incorporate these into a calming blend: try rose petals, clove pinks, gardenias, rosemary, lavender and hops. Or experiment with other herbal fragrances that you find appealing.
For a longer lasting fragrance, add a fixative such as orris root, just as you would for potpourri. Orris root is the dried root of Iris germanica, Iris florentina or Iris pallida. When freshly dug, the roots smell earthy, but after a couple of years of drying, the roots take on the scent of violets. Chop the dried root finely and add it to your mix.
Can’t sleep because your partner is snoring due to sinus or nasal congestion? Fill a pillow with eucalyptus leaves and add a drop or two of peppermint oil.