Help, I need sleep!  If you’ve ever had trouble getting a good night’s rest, then you know how much lack of sleep can impact your mood and your ability to function. Even the simplest of tasks require a Herculean effort. Just like many other people, I’ve had times where I’ve been unable to get a full night’s sleep. While I would fall asleep quickly, sometimes I would wake up during the night and be unable to go back to sleep. Other times, I would fall back asleep quickly after waking up four to five times during the night. I recall once that this went on every night for a period of several weeks.


The Impact of a Lack of Sleep

It took awhile for me to realize how much the lack of sleep was affecting me. Sure, I would be tired and cranky when my alarm clock went off and I would drag myself out of bed, but once I took a shower and was fully awake, I went about my day as usual… or so I thought. The reality is that I had trouble focusing at work and school.  I ended up taking a lot of short cuts at work because I couldn’t focus long enough to conduct a thorough analysis and develop a comprehensive solution.  I would turn in sub par assignments at school because everything would take me three times longer than I planned because I kept falling asleep at my laptop; I would finally run out of time and just turn in whatever I had.  To my embarrassment, I even fell asleep in a few meetings at work — yikes!!  What’s worse is that when I would begin to feel sleepy, I would try to fight it; but without warning, I would fall asleep.  That is to say, my brain was still thinking that I’m fighting sleep but in actuality, I was already asleep.  Crazy, right!? 

With all of this going on, you’re probably wondering how on earth it could have taken me so long to realize how the lack of sleep was affecting me.  In hindsight, I’d say that I only had enough brain power to direct toward the day-to-day tasks.  I was going through my routine on autopilot; there really wasn’t anything left to give toward recognizing patterns of behavior that were out of the ordinary.  In fact, I remember being mad a lot.  Mad at myself for getting old and not being able to burn the midnight oil like I used to, mad at my body for betraying me.  With everyone else, I was mostly impatient.  When I wasn’t being impatient, I was being sarcastic and condescending.


How to Get a Good Night of Sleep


So at some point, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t functioning well and that I needed to get a good night’s sleep.  I wasn’t open to pharmaceutical meds because I was afraid of becoming addicted and perhaps damaging my liver by the long-term usage.  I did some research online and decided to try melatonin supplements, which are over-the-counter and available in most drug stores.  The good news is that it worked; I slept through the night the first time I tried it.  The bad news is that after three days of uninterrupted sleep, the melatonin stopped working for me.  I was back to waking up during the night again but this time more intermittently, not ever single night.  And life went on…


Several years later, I learned about passionflower (passiflora incarnata).  I made a tea from the herb before bedtime.  Prepared this way, passionflower is rather unassuming but the herb has strong narcotic actions.   You only need to drink a teacup full.  I wouldn’t recommend an entire mug because you don’t want to interrupt your sleep by getting up to go to the bathroom all night.  It’s very mild tasting but don’t let the taste fool you.  Within 15 minutes of drinking the tea, I felt my mind and my muscles begin to relax.  Within 30 minutes, I was nodding off.  I slept through the entire night — about 6 hours.  To make it even better, when I woke up the next morning, I felt refreshed and well-rested; there was no grogginess or initial spaciness that I experienced with the melatonin.  I repeated this for the next two weeks and each time with the same result.  A couple of times I did take a mug of tea before bedtime instead of a teacup full.  Those times, I ended up taking twilight bathroom trips, however, I fell back asleep within minutes and stayed asleep until my alarm went off.  Passionflower is an all natural sleep remedy that really works!

Have you or anyone you know used passionflower or melatonin for sleeplessness? If so, what was the result? 

  1. I recently had problems with sleeping. I wanted to try something but I won’t take sleeping pills. I read about passionflower but was a little bit hesitant about taking it. I also read that melatonin helps you sleep but I wasn’t sure about that either because I didn’t want to be up going to the bathroom but maybe if I take the right amount I’ll be ok. I also get concerned about any long term damage as you mentioned. Do you know if there is damage to your liver or other organs?

    • Hi Rob,

      There is nothing in the literature to indicate damage to organs with sustained use of passionflower.  Passionflower does, however, have diuretic effects.  Since I am also not fond of getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I manage this by making a STRONG infusion of passionflower tea using less water and longer steeping time.  Steep 2g, 1/2 tsp, or 1 teabag of passionflower leaves in a teacup (approx. 6 oz.) of boiling water for 10 minutes. 

  2. That is interesting. Passionflower is not quite the remedy for me for sleep but it does help with anxiety. I am glad that it helped you though because it sounds like your sleepiness could have become a hazard. I had insomnia for a while before I realized I had Wilkin’s Ekbom Disease. I tried Melatonin as well and it has always had a reverse effect on me.

    • Thanks for your comment, ririj. I’m always happy to hear about others’ experience with herbs. Have you been able to find an herbal remedy that is effective for sleep with the restless legs syndrome?

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