In a perfect world, we would all fall sound asleep within minutes of our head hitting our most comfortable pillow, however, that is not always the case. For millions, a good night’s sleep doesn’t seem to be within reach and counting sheep and sipping on warm milk just isn’t doing the trick. Besides giving in and taking a sleep-aid that wakes you groggier than you went to bed, there must be an unturned stone out there that can help in your quest for a sincere sleep. Perhaps the answer may be in your garden! Specific herbs, fruits and vegetables are known to contain certain vitamins, minerals and fragrances which help to promote a peaceful slumber. Let’s explore a few residential remedies that will have you gardening for better sleep!
Particular fruits and vegetables contain sleep-promoting chemicals such as melatonin, magnesium and tryptophan. While the amounts of beneficial chemicals are trace, overtime, they may help when it’s time to hit the hay. Planting a few of these fruits and veggies into your home garden will not only be self-satisfying to watch grow but being able to incorporate the fruits of your labor into your evening meals will become a healthy way to promote a better night’s sleep.
Cherries: Both sour and sweet cherries contain high amounts of melatonin. This powerful antioxidant helps regulate your body’s internal clock and sleep cycles. Anthocyanins, also a key antioxidant found in cherries, acts as an anti-inflammatory! Just by consuming this nighttime snack about an hour-or-so before bedtime will result in lower blood-lipid levels and body temperature, making us feel sleepy and ready to turn in .
Leafy greens: Another great reason to opt for a salad at dinner time, other than helping your waist line, is to help with your dozing! Romaine lettuce contains a phytonutrient named lactucarium which is known to relieve pain, promote relaxation and ultimately induce sleep with its sedative properties known as lettuce opium. Don’t let that name scare you, salad isn’t as scary as some make it out to be. Kale, most recently known as a super-food, is loaded with calcium. Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin, resulting in a more peaceful period before sleep. This same effect can be found in other dark greens such as spinach and broccoli (yep, you heard it here first, broccoli leaves are just as edible as the florets!)
Avocados: I feel that every time I say the word avocado, no matter the conversation, I am going to be charged 50 cents. Guacamole and avocados are notorious for being an extra charge at restaurants, but they are just so darn delicious….and are chock-full of nutrients, too! Being high in the sleep-mineral magnesium. avocados will help deactivate your body’s natural adrenaline and promote a deeper sleep. Unfortunately, the hardiness growing zones for avocados are zones 8-11, which are subtropical or tropical climates. However, there are dwarf varieties that can be grown in containers indoors. So, if you have patience, it wouldn’t hurt to try!
Tomatoes: Yes, I know, another salad ingredient. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin C & K and also the phytonutrient lycopene. This nutrient assists in heart and bone health and is also known to keep you asleep once you drift off! Perhaps the secret sauce of a better night’s sleep is the pasta sauce itself?! (You can email MasterPLAN at any time to let us know that our jokes aren’t that funny.)
Keep in mind that all of these natural food nutrients, chemicals and vitamins will not knock you out the same a sleep aid or a thanksgiving dinner would, but they are a healthy, long-term strategies that will improve your blood and sleep levels over time.
Another great garden integration to help aid in your search for a solid snooze can be found in herbs and flowering plants! Bringing balance and a sense of calmness to your evening routine can be as easy as plucking some plants from your backyard.
Lavender: Lavender is probably one of the most popular and well-known flowers relating to relaxing and soothing anxiety levels. The scent of this graceful plant has been researched and documented to slow down heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels, leading to a more tranquil night’s sleep. While there are tons of lavender-scented products and oils on the market, nothing can compare to the fragrant and air-purifying plant or lavender garden cuttings being placed in your bedroom. Bonus points if you have room to place the potted plant or vase full of sprigs on your nightstand!
Hops: Who knew that hops had any other purpose than producing the nectar of gods, beer! Hops are actually the female flowers from the hop vine, ’humulus lupulus’, and are a great addition to a trellised area in the garden! Having a long history of being used in herbal medicines and remedies and being bitter in taste, people do not consume these flowers to help with sleep, they actually stuff them into “sleep pillows”. For those who aren’t familiar, a sleep pillow is a little breathable cloth bag that is supposed to house sleep inducing herbs. Placing a combination of dried hops and lavender inside and storing in your pillowcase has been known to time release a soothing scent, ready to whisk you away to dreamland!
Lemon Balm: Being a member in the mint family, lemon balm has a refreshing and mild citrus scent that contain several flavonoids used since the middle ages to sooth anxiety. The calming properties of its scent make it a perfect addition to add to your bedside along with lavender and hops. While you may be hesitant to grow this in your garden, rest assured that while it’s a part of the mint family, it does not spread by underground runners like mint. This fragrant garden addition is low maintenance and can be cut back when it reaches your desired size. This will keep it healthy and in manageable form.
German chamomile: This cute daisy-like flower is a sweet addition to your garden and your nighttime routine. Containing a flavonoid called apeginin, this flowering beauty acts as a jack-of-all-trades, because it seems to have an infinite number of uses, all of which include soothing and relaxation. In the garden, chamomile sways in the breeze, wafting a light apple scent to through the air. In the home, the flowers can be dried and used in several different applications, from soothing baths to relieve sore muscles or irritated skin, to a calming cup of tea at night to aid in relaxation and a deeper sleep. This plant will earn its keep in your landscaping beds in no time.
Note: If you are known to be allergic to daisies, marigolds or chrysanthemums, you are most likely allergic to the chamomile flower as well…proceed with caution.
Getting out in the garden and putting your hands in the dirt has tremendous health benefits. Gardening has been proven to reduce stress and mental fatigue just as well as the benefits the fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers mentioned in this article! The bright sunshine combined with fresh air and pride you feel tending to your garden will ultimately enhance your mood during the day and leave your fulfilled and ready to fall asleep easier and experience sweeter dreams at night.
While incorporating plants in your landscape that help you sleep is an organic and wonderfully holistic idea, you also need to make sure that your backyard is beautiful and fun while you’re awake! Serving the Poconos, Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN Outdoor Living would love to explore all your options to transform your backyard into the place your family loves and wants to be! Specializing in the design/build of structure and landscape we understand how important it is to blur the lines between inside the home and your outdoor living space. When your outdoor living space becomes as beautiful and comfortable as your favorite indoor room, we guarantee you will fall in love with your home all over again. When exterior architecture meets function and style, you have MasterPLAN!
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