Lavender – The Forgotten Cure for Sleepless Nights

In the search for new solutions to old problems, traditional remedies are often overlooked. This is certainly true of Lavender. At the back of your mind, you probably remember your grandmother recommending lavender as a cure-all. But when was the last time you tried it for yourself?

What is Lavender?

Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of plants. They are part of the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is a native plant in Europe, the Mediterranean and in parts of Asia. As well as being grown as ornamental plants in formal and cottage gardens, they are cultivated for use as culinary herbs and processed for their essential oils.

There is one school of thought which claims the English word “lavender” is from the Latin lavare (to wash), referring to the use of infusions of the plants for topical treatment of skin complaints. This may be untrue: the name may actually be derived from Latin livere, “blueish”. Both of these are pleasant thoughts! Lavender flowers certainly glow a deep purple-blue when they are in full flower in the sun. A lavender farm is certainly a spectacular sight when the plants are in full bloom.

How to use Lavender

Dried lavender flowers and leaves can be used for their aroma.  They can also be added to food to give strong distinctive flavors, often as an alternative to rosemary. Leaves can also be steeped in water to use as an alternative tea.

Lavender oil is also widely available commercially and can be used in a variety of ways.

Benefits of Lavender

There are many claimed benefits from using lavender. Its oil was used during The Great War as a treatment for wounds: cleaning, preventing infection and promoting fast healing, for example. It has proven anti-bacterial effects. But here we are interested in how this legendary herb can help reduce restless nights and prevent restlessness.

Relevant in some climates, many flying insects dislike the aroma of lavender, making it a natural solution for warding off these unwanted pests. Planting lavender outside, near windows and doors can deter insects from approaching.  Hanging small bags of lavender in clothes cupboards or at the back of drawers can reduce their appeal to moths. Sprinkling lavender oil on your mattress can also deter bugs from coming too close.

Where your sleeplessness is being caused by undue anxiety and tension, lavender-infused water can be used to calm nerves and soothe worries. Rub (or spray a mist) on to pulse points on your wrists, temples, forehead or jaw joints to alleviate strain. You can even use this technique as a magical shield to protect you if you know are you are about to enter a stressful situation.

Lavender Oil

You can help clear your mind when you are feeling overwhelmed by soaking your feet in warm water to which you’ve added a few drops of lavender oil. Or make your own relaxing potpourri by adding dried lavender to dried rosemary, sage and frankincense. Keep this in your bedroom or carry it with you inhale when you need the extra support it provides.

If your restlessness is due to breathing issues, lavender oil added to boiling water can be used to create infused steam which can be inhaled carefully to help clear blocked nasal passages. This can help in clearing out sinus infections and even the symptoms of allergic reactions.  You could also rub a few drops of oil around nasal passages, forehead and temples for a little aromatherapy. Application to the back of the neck will also provide some lasting relief from sinus pressure and inflammation.  You can even brew a tea with dried lavender if you want to alleviate some coughing, sneezing and throat irritations.

In the bedroom itself, you can keep a potpourri near the head of your bed. Refresh this with drops of oil if the effects start to fade. You can add lavender oil to an infuser to gently permeate the air or sprinkle a few drops under your pillow. Even sprinkle on your favorite comforter or cuddly toy for long-lasting effects. You could even add a few leaves of the plant to your favorite pre-bedtime brew to promote relaxation before you settle down for the night.

There are a variety of aches and pains you can reduce by rubbing oil on and around the  affected parts as well. For example, calm sunburn, ease earache, soothe chapped skin, moisten dry eyes and so on.

Warnings

It is not recommend to make heavy use of lavender while pregnant or breast-feeding. Lavender may cause skin irritation  in some people when applied topically. Lavender oil could be poisonous if consumed by mouth. However lavender is traditionally regarded as a ‘safe’ oil.

Sometimes the oldest remedies are the best. The therapeutic effects of lavender and its oils have been known for centuries. There are very few downsides to giving this venerable solution a try if you need extra help in reducing your restlessness.

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