A friend and I were recently discussing sleep, and he told me 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 Skullcap to help induce a better sleep.
So I thought it would be useful to give an overview of what this herb is and how it came about to be a popular natural sleep remedy.
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 cap-like 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.
Should You Use Skullcap for a Better Night’s Sleep?
Taking Skullcap, or any other herbal remedy for sleep is fine, but with long term use there is the risk of developing a phycological dependence. I’m not saying skullcap is addictive, but over time it is easy to fall into a a cycle of believing that you need it to go to sleep.
A herbal remedy may not have the dangerous side-effects of prescription sleeping pills, but if get into a situation whereby we believe we won’t sleep well if we don’t take it, insomnia can take hold – a much bigger issue than the small sleeping problem we’d initially developed to begin with. If you find yourself taking a herbal aid because of bad sleeping habits like being up late at night working, in the long term you’d be far better off changing your lifestyle to better your sleep health than continuing to take supplements.
Skullcap is Safe, Just Use It Wisely
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 for more than 7 days in a row, 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. For good quality Skullcap, check out the Nature’s Answer brand.