Sleep can sometimes be a struggle. Shamans and Native texts tell stories of herbs that can be used to calm the restless sleeper. What was once called a “comfort pillow”centuries ago by Europeans has caught on in today’s aromatherapy circles and renamed “dream pillows”.
Who Can Use Dream Pillows?
The best part is that anyone with a sense of smell can use a dream pillow!
How Does It Work?
Dream pillows work because of their smells. Smells are processed by a part of the brain’s limbic system called the olfactory bulb. The limbic system is a network of many connected structures, including the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) and the hippocampus (memory center of the brain), that are linked within the central nervous system. The central nervous system is in charge of your level of relaxation. These connections are why certain smells bring back vivid memories, or are related to specific feelings such as calmness or tranquility.
What Herbs go into a Dream Pillow?
A dream pillows can be made from any combination of sedative herbs you like! A sedative herb is one that has a soothing, or tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system of the body. Thusly, reducing mental activity and supporting restful behaviours.
Here are some examples of herbs and their traditional uses:
|Catnip||Sedative for nerves aiding in general relaxation|
|Chamomile||Sedative gentle enough to be used on children|
|Hops||Sedative for use with insomnia unrelated to depression|
|Lavender||Tonic for the nervous system, helpful for mental states of unrest|
|Lemon Balm (Melissa)||Sedative in times of nervousness and stress|
|Mugwort||Sedative to ease muscle tension|
|Oat Straw||Sedative in cases of exhaustion|
|Passion Flower||Sedative for restful sleep without the groggy morning|
|Skullcap||Tonic for the nervous system, releasing nervous tension|
|Valerian||Nervous system regulator, stress, anxiety, muscle tension, insomnia|
…Just to name a few.
How To Use A Dream Pillow
Shamanic herbal sachets are said to be put under, or into, a person’s pillow and slept on. The belief is that our individual bodies create the perfect amount of heat to regulate the amount of scent released from the herbs throughout the night. As a westerner I tend to settle for a little more conventional method, and merely put the dream pillow inside of my pillow case.
Making A Dream Pillow
They can be made with pretty much anything lying around the house especially if you’re not looking to be fancy.
- A mesh bag,
or a square piece of breathable fabric about the size of your outstretched hand,
or the foot end of an old pair of nylons.
- A string,
or an elastic band
- Herbs (recommended 1 Tablespoon per herb minimum, and at least 3 herbs)
It’s recommended to use more than one herb because herbs have what’s referred to as “synergistic properties”, meaning they are stronger when allowed to work together in harmony towards the same goal.
In this case, the goal of sleep.
All that is left to do is to put these herbs into the fabric of your choosing and tie up the top so that they don’t spill… and ease in to a good night’s sleep.