Hops for sleep
Is there anything worse than spending 6-7 hours in bed, thinking that you were resting only to get out of bed in the morning feeling tired than you did last evening? We can bet that there isn’t. Imagine waking up with dark circles under your eyes, being irritable throughout the day, being unable to concentrate at work and looking ten years older suddenly? That would make you rethink your normal sleeping habits, right?
As you rethink, the thought of using prescription sleeping aids will cross your mind, and you just might make the trip to the pharmacists after work. But, we are asking you to hold that thought – what if there is another alternative that doesn’t involve waking up feeling groggy or living in constant fear of becoming dependent on drugs. Well, it’s no hoax.
Try hops. Yes, you read that right.
Hops for sleep – effects on sleep
Hops, the component responsible for beer’s bitter taste refer to the female flowers from the hop plant scientifically called Humulus lupulus. Since the 9th century, hops have been used in herbal medicine throughout Europe.
The discovery that you could use hops for sleep came by accident after it emerged that hop plants’ field workers were sleeping on the job. This showed that hops have sedative effects. Though initial scientific studies had no solid evidence on the effects of hops on sleep, recent studies show that hops help with anxiety and insomnia. These studies revealed something else, hops work well with another herb, valerian extract.
But, hops should have little sleep enhancing effects – studies show that resins in hops, the cause of beer’s bitter taste, contain a phytochemical 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol which induces sleep by promoting the activity of GABA in the brain.
Hops are shown to decrease nocturnal activity in the circadian rhythm helping one fall asleep faster.
Valerian Extract and Hops
Valerian extract, an established herbal sleep aid has sedative and anxiolytic effects. It calms the body by stimulating the release of GABA in the brain helping you sleep.
There is also the part where a combination of these two plant extracts increases the brain’s alpha-wave activity. The alpha waves are the ‘sleep brainwaves.’ In the REM sleep cycle, the light sleep stage characterized by high brain activity and heavy dreaming, the brain waves appear as they would when you are awake.
But, in the non-REM (NREM) sleep stage divided into four stages, the brain waves look different. In stage one, the brain produces alpha waves which indicate deep relaxation though you may be ‘awake.’ This is an important stage in the sleep cycle because it helps you feel relaxed.
Increasing the alpha brainwaves shortens the stage 1 of NREM sleep and helps you get into the deep sleep stages faster.
Therefore, the use of the valerian root and hops help in improving your quality of sleep.
How safe are hops for sleep?
The US FDA recognizes hops to be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).
How to take Hops
Risks of using hops
- Though considered safe, you should talk to your doctor first before using it. It is risky to use if suffering from thyroid disease or estrogen positive breast cancer.
- Valerian interacts with antidepressants and you should talk to your doctor first.
- Don’t combine these herbs with other sleeping aids.
- You shouldn’t drink beer if using hops for insomnia since beer may lower your quality of sleep.
Bottom line, an excellent sleeping aid supports healthy sleeping patterns, helps overcome insomnia episodes, relaxes body and mind, and promotes deep and refreshing sleep. Hops and valerian do these.