Sleep is necessary for life, as is eating and breathing. But sleeping is not enough, it is important to sleep well and ensure healthy sleep, the basis for optimal functioning of cerebral processes, memory, attention and learning. Not only that, when sleep is restorative then the whole body also works well, the immune system is strong, the metabolism and the release of hormones are in balance (Bruni et al, Nutrients, 2021). However, it is very common to experience sleep disturbances, such as high sleep onset latency or constant awakenings that interrupt rest. What to do in these cases? As always, help comes from nature. So let's see, on the basis of the most recent scientific studies, the plants and flowers that, in the form of infusions, can come to our rescue.
Magnolia conquers us with its fleshy flowers with fascinating shades. And from today we have one more reason to admire this plant, since from the bark of the magnolia we obtain a tea with interesting calming properties, useful to promote a good rest. In fact, the bark of magnolia officinalis and obivata is characterized by an antioxidant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, but above all sedative and calming action, useful against anxiety, insomnia and depression thanks to the main active ingredients, such as magnolol and honokiol, belonging to the lignan family (Poivre et al, J Zhejiang Univ Sci B, 2017). Based on scientific studies, it seems that honokiol is particularly effective in promoting NREM sleep, or non-rapid eye movement sleep, which is the phase of sleep in which the body regenerates itself. Honokiol acts by modulating the receptors of GABA, which is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system, capable of promoting sleep (Yang et al, Mol Pharm, 2019). You can find magnolia bark in herbalist's or chemist's shops, to prepare herbal teas or in the form of capsules. Before starting any treatment, ask your doctor for advice as an interaction with drugs is not excluded, although further scientific studies are currently needed to investigate the subject (Poivre et al, J Zhejiang Univ Sci B, 2017).
The Passiflora incarnata, or true passionflower, shows interesting sedative, anxiolytic and sleep-promoting properties. It seems that its action is due to its ability to regulate the receptors of GABA, the neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. In particular, a cup of passionflower tea has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality in one week, reducing the time to fall asleep and increasing the duration of sleep (Bruni et al, Nutrients, 2021 - Ngan et al, Phytother Res, 2011). You can find dried passionflower in herbalist's shops and pharmacies. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of the plant, let it sit for ten minutes, then filter and drink.
Chamomile, scientific name matricaria chamomilla, is the bedtime tea par excellence, and indeed science has been able to confirm this effect. Chamomile is in fact anxiolytic, calming, strengthens the nervous system and is capable of improving the quality of sleep, even in the elderly and in women who had recently given birth and who presented insomnia (Borras et al, Planta Medica, 2021 - Bruni et al , Nutrients, 2021). Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat and leave to brew a teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water for five minutes, then filter and drink.
Almond milk and saffron
Here is a drink that brings joy just to look at it, while a delicious and soothing scent envelops you. Quickly heat a cup of almond milk, remove from heat and add a pinch of saffron, mix and drink this delight that combines the relaxing properties of almonds and saffron. Studies have in fact observed that the intake of almonds improved, in just two weeks, the quality of sleep in the volunteers, reducing the cases of insomnia (Ghafarzadeh et al, Iran J Public Health, 2019), while saffron, in addition to counteracting anxiety and depression, has been shown to increase the duration of sleep and to reduce the time to fall asleep, making sleep more restorative (Pachikian et al, Nutrients, 2021).