A friend and I were recently discussing his sleep when he revealed that once in a while he slips a few drops of Skullcap into his herbal tea before bedtime. Being a writer who sometimes works up until midnight on his laptop, he uses the Skullcap herb remedy to help induce a better sleep.
What is Skullcap?
For those that don’t know, American Skullcap is a herbal medicine extracted from a plant that typically grows in meadows and woodland. The plant was named Skullcap due to the caplike appearance on the outer side of its small purple flowers.
American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is well known for its ability to induce sleep and prevent anxiety, nervousness, twitches and convulsions. Available to buy as a powder or liquid extract, Skullcap is an effective relaxant which has been used for over 200 years among native Americans in particular.
My friend asked me what my opinion was on taking Skullcap for sleep, and whether I thought it was suitable as part of a good sleep hygiene routine. Personally I’m not a fan of any sleep inducing drugs, herbal or otherwise. The reason for this is because when we experience bad sleep over a period of time, and subsequently seek out a sleep enhancer, prescription or herbal, we set the stage for addiction to occur. A herbal remedy may not have side-effects as such, but if get into a situation whereby we fear not sleeping if we don’t take it, then we can find ourselves faced with a bout of deeper insomnia than the small sleeping problem we’d initially developed to begin with.
There is nothing wrong with using Skullcap on occasions where you have gone past your bedtime sleepy stage and ‘over-clocked’ past the state of tiredness, or when you are on a long haul flight or adjusting to time differences. But whatever you do, don’t start using Skullcap for sleep more than once a week; otherwise you are in danger of creating a psychological dependency. I am not saying Skullcap is bad for you, what I am saying is that you will get so used to taking it that you will end up thinking you can’t sleep without it.
Those with a history of sleeping badly often create small conditional sleep obsessions, such as only being able to sleep in their own bed, or only being able to sleep in a certain position, etc. The last thing a bad sleeper needs is to develop further conditional sleep through the use of sleep aids, natural or not.
If you do purchase some American Skullcap herb be sure not to get it confused with Chinese Skullcap which is used to treat other conditions such as headaches, allergies, infections and inflammation. Check out reputable Skullcap products here.