More than 60% of Germans feel stressed in their everyday lives. In addition to numerous negative effects on health and well-being, stress also disturbs sleep and promotes problems falling asleep and sleep disorders. Find out here which herbal extracts alleviate stress symptoms, best support the relaxation process and prepare you for a peaceful night's sleep.
Table of Contents
- Stress is so harmful
- Stress, Relaxation & Sleep
- The 5 best herbal extracts for relaxation
Stress is so damaging
Stress is ubiquitous in today's society and now affects more than 60% of people. When we perceive something as stressful varies from person to person and can have numerous internal and external triggers. According to a study by the Techniker Krankenkasse, work, leisure time, family life or financial worries are among the most common reasons for feeling stress. In the long term, this damages both our physical and mental health, disturbs our daily well-being and also has a negative effect on our sleep.
Stress and lack of relaxation before bedtime disrupt much-needed nighttime regeneration and prevent the body from recovering adequately. So how exactly does prolonged stress affect our sleep and ability to fall asleep?
Stress, relaxation & sleep
Stress basically describes our body's response to a negative stimulus. Our brain then signals the body to prepare for stress and releases increased amounts of the hormones cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. These ensure that, among other things, fat and blood sugar levels increase, blood pressure rises and the body is put on alert.
Cortisol also plays an important role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle and functions as a kind of counterpart to the well-known sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin makes us tired in the evening prepares the body for rest. Overnight, melatonin levels drop and our body produces more cortisol, which is then responsible for making us active again and waking us up in the morning after sleep.
If we feel stress before going to bed, the cortisol level increases exactly when the body actually needs to rest. This often leads to problems falling asleep and promotes sleep and concentration disorders, which in turn has a negative effect on sleep and its important function for health, well-being and performance.
Certain plant-based extracts can support relaxation in a completely natural way and help to gently relieve stress and tension. Especially in the evening, this is important to quickly find a restful sleep. That's why today we're introducing you to 5 herbal extracts that can help wind down after a stressful day and get your body in the mood for sleep.
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The 5 best plant extracts for relaxation
Most people know hops primarily as the main ingredient in beer. But because hops are said to have a calming and soporific effect, extracts of the hop plant have been used for centuries to relieve restlessness, anxiety, nervous tension and sleep disorders.
"How hops work
Hops are particularly rich in healthy tannins and bitter compounds, with the bitter compounds humulone and lupulone in particular thought to be essential to the plant's sleep-inducing and relaxing effects. And studies also show that hops can have a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Especially in combination with other calming substances such as lemon balm, lavender or valerian, hops are said to have a calming effect and promote relaxation.
St. John's wort
St. John's wort is one of the best researched natural sedatives, whose relaxing and mood-lifting effects have been proven in numerous studies. Thus, St. John's wort offers natural support against anxiety and restlessness as well as mild to moderate depression.
"How St. John's wort works
The effect of the St. John's wort plant can be attributed to the fact that its ingredients have a positive effect on the hormonal balance and in particular positively influence serotonin, which is known as the happiness hormone. Since serotonin in turn is essential for the production of melatonin, the herb not only has a mood-lifting effect, but also supports the body's own sleep-wake rhythm. St. John's wort thus provides more relaxation in times of stress and restlessness, and also helps the body to naturally adjust to a restful sleep.
St. John's wort is also considered safe and well tolerated - so few side effects are known. For women, however, beware, as St. John's wort can interfere with the effects of birth control pills.
Lavender is rightly considered one of the most popular herbal sedatives. The extracts of the Mediterranean plant calm the nerves, relieve stress and tension and help to naturally relax the body and mind. Lavender is popularly used for restlessness, anxiety, or physical and mental stress, and also supports the body in the absence of relaxation or depressive moods.
"How lavender works
The ingredients in the lavender flower reduce the release of stress hormones and protect our nervous system from an overload of negative stimuli. At the same time, the production of the happiness hormone serotonin is influenced. This has a positive effect on our mood and in turn supports the conversion of serotonin into melatonin. Therefore, lavender not only has a calming effect, but also promotes healthy sleep and makes it easier to fall asleep.
The balancing effect of lavender extracts calms, reduces stress and helps to relax and prepare for sleep.
Lemon balm (also known as lemon balm) is considered a versatile medicinal plant that is said to have a calming effect. Studies show that lemon balm extracts can be successfully used to combat the effects of stress by reducing anxiety, tension, and insomnia.
"How lemon balm works
Lemon balm contains essential oils and tannins, among other compounds. These influence important mechanisms of metabolism and lower the activity of nerve cells in the brain. Thus, stress and anxiety signals are perceived and processed less strongly and, on the contrary, relaxation is promoted.
The popular plant serves overall as a natural relaxant for stress, nervousness, restlessness and difficulty falling asleep, and is especially popular as a tea.
Green tea is actually known for its invigorating effect, which is due to the nerve-stimulating ingredient caffeine. However, numerous scientific studies show that green tea also has a calming effect that can alleviate stress and have a balancing and relaxing effect.
"How green tea works
In addition to caffeine and natural tannins, green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine works directly in the brain, affecting the regulation of some neurotransmitters that are crucial to our mood, such as norepinephrine and dopamine. According to studies, L-theanine has been shown to have a positive effect on the psyche, reducing susceptibility to stress and anxiety disorders.
In this way, green tea provides natural support against the negative effects of stress, boosts overall state of mind and helps prepare the body for a peaceful night's sleep.
Stress is detrimental to health and can disrupt sleep, reducing the important regeneration that takes place at night.
Hops have a calming and relaxing effect, especially in combination with other substances.
St. John's wort is a natural mood enhancer and offers support against anxiety and restlessness, mild to moderate depression and the regulation of a healthy sleep-wake rhythm.
Lavender calms, reduces stress as well as nervousness, and helps relax and prepare for sleep.
Melissa serves as a natural relaxant for stress, nervousness, restlessness and difficulty falling asleep and is often consumed as a tea.
Green tea and the L-theanine it contains reduce susceptibility to stress and anxiety disorders, have a balancing and relaxing effect.
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