Sleep easy

You might tend to think of hops purely with regard to brewing, but in the third part of our ‘Nature that nurtures’ series, Amerley Ollennu explains another use for them


Sleep easy

Today, we put our bodies under more prolonged and different kinds of stress than generations before us, but traditional remedies still have a place in our modern world – and it doesn’t require a major life-overhaul to introduce them into your daily routine.

If you are… having difficulty sleeping

Our hectic lifestyles can lead to erratic sleep patterns, poor-quality sleep and often create a cycle of caffeine- and sugar-dependency to keep us going.

But caffeine makes it harder for the body to absorb iron, which is a great energy source, while both caffeine and sugar drain your body of magnesium, the mineral most helpful in calming the nervous system. But perhaps help could come from an unlikely source – ever thought of trying hops (pictured)?

‘The bizarre phenomenon known as “hop-pickers’ fatigue” (where labourers back as far as Tudor times were known to become so drowsy picking hops for brewing that they fell asleep on the job), could be your caffeine/sugar antidote. The fruiting cones of hop plants emit a musky, herbal scent derived from a group of bitter acids which, research suggests, can act as a mild sedative when inhaled, helping induce restful sleep,' says James Wong, ethnobotanist at Liz Earle.

‘To see if hops’ sleep-inducing properties work for you, stuff a small breathable cotton bag with a few handfuls of dried hops (and a little lavender if you have it), tie it with a piece of string and put it by your pillow at bedtime.’

Try The Hop Shop's Kentish Hop Flowers, £8.25/125g

Photograph: plainpicture/Cultura

More inspiration:

Read What is your chronotype? by Eminé Ali Rushton on LifeLabs

Watch Psychologies' editor Suzy Greaves interview Karen Ruimy on How to find inner peace in 2015 on LifeLabs