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Sleep is underratedAt around 3 o’clock I normally get the afternoon yawns and run to grab a coffee to help me get through the rest of my day. Of course my afternoon fatigue is worse on days when I haven’t gotten a good nights sleep—but a lack of sleep can cause much more serious problems than yawning at work. Ideally children should be receiving ten to twelve hours of sleep each night and adults should be receiving at least seven to eight. A lack of adequate sleep can lead to health problems such as lowered immunity, depression, and obesity, as well as heart disease and diabetes. Adequate sleep is of even more importance for children who are still developing. Here are some natural remedies from The Herbal Resource, an online guide to herbal remedies, and their uses that can help improve your sleep and lead to a healthier life:

Valerian The plant’s root has long been used as a sleep aid by people in ancient Greece and Rome. It is one of the most popular herbs used to help insomnia by relieving nerve and muscle tension and anxiety, but is more effective if used over extended periods of time because the active compounds require consistent use to be most effective. Safe in small doses, too-large amounts can cause nausea, headaches and dizziness—so be sure to check with your doctor to determine the right dose for you or your child. Valerian root can be taken in a capsule, tea, tablet, or a liquid extract.

Chamomile is a flowering plant that can be taken as a tea or liquid to reduce restlessness and improve digestion. It is a mild herb that has no chance of dependency, but may cause reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed or daisies because it is in the same family of plants. When taken in a tea form it has a mild and pleasant taste, making it a great remedy for kids!

Kava The root of this herb helps relax the body and calm the mind, in turn helping people fall asleep faster. It is most often taken in a liquid extract form. Kava should not be used for extended periods of time because it has the potential to cause liver damage, and so isn’t recommended for kids.

Lemon Balm is a plant in the mint family that’s leaves can be dried and used as a tea for a sleep aid. The essential oils found in lemon balm helps protect against ulcers making, it very useful for those having trouble sleeping because of a nervous stomach. It would be a great sleep remedy for children the night before a big game or test!

Passion Flower The dried leaves can be taken in a tea form or a liquid extract to relieve body tension and relax the mind. The only side effect? Drowsiness–exactly what you want in a sleep aid!

All of these remedies can be purchased in most drug stores or online at MotherNature.com. Remember to talk with your doctor before starting any sleep aid regimen.

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