Saint John’s Wort for a Better Night Sleep
Battling with insomnia means extensive research on the condition. Like you, everyone else battling with insomnia asks the Google and themselves ‘how to cure insomnia’ and ‘what are the causes of insomnia.’ The online searches often reveal vague answers, but in most cases, you’ll get recommendations to use Zoloft or Prozac, especially when bathing, exercising, drinking milk or eating bananas fail. However, it turns out that there are alternative ways of getting better sleep. The alternatives have everything to do with plants and herbal extracts.
Note that you’ll only come across the herbs part if you search in the right places and if you dig deep enough. One such herb is St. John’s Wort, scientifically called Hypericum.
Who would have thought that St. John’s Wort, a perennial flowering plant native to the US and many parts of Europe helps one finally get more ZZZs?
Well, as it turns out, this plant is quite efficient, and many people are getting over insomnia or at least getting a few more hours of sleep thanks to this plant.
How does it work?
Insomnia, as you may have learned, is a secondary symptom of an underlying condition – mainly depression. Studies show that insomnia and depression have a close connection. Therefore, to treat for manage insomnia, you have to treat depression. Not with antidepressants but with St. John’s Wort.
This herb beats antidepressants in that:
- It shortens the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycle.
The REM sleep cycle is the sleep stage where you are asleep, but your brain’s subconscious is busy processing the day’s or past events and feelings. When this cycle extends for long, you don’t quite get to rest, and you wake up tired. The REM stage often involves intense dreams, and your heart beat rises. Your brain is very active and this period should last at least 90 minutes. With prescription antidepressants, this stage is longer. By morning you won’t feel rested.
St. John’s Wort works in reverse shortening or eliminating REM letting you rest. Rest is important for mental health.
- It works with the body
Even when your insomnia isn’t an effect of depression, you need Saint John’s Wort for a better night sleep because it doesn’t cause grogginess or a dry mouth or the hangover effect. Rather than forcing your brain into submission, it works with the body to stimulate sleep, relaxation, and refreshment in the following two ways:
- It stimulates GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) receptors. GABA receptors are the main gateways for sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. GABA dampens brain activity calming your brain down.
- It is a stimulus for production or serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and maintains a balance in moods. It, therefore, helps in the management of anxiety and makes you happy. You can sleep better when happy and content.
According to medical studies, serotonin constricts smooth muscles, transmits impulses between nerve cells and regulates some processes leading to happiness and feeling of wellbeing.
How to take Saint John’s Wort
It comes as a supplement, and you can take it the following three ways:
- Capsules/ Pills
- You should not mix Saint John’s Wort with any prescription medications especially antidepressants. They may interact badly. Consult your doctor first because some diseases have symptoms similar to depression.
- Long term use could increase your sensitivity to the sun.
- You should also avoid any medications or supplements that increase serotonin to avoid the risk of serotonin toxicity.