Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crafting Pillows to Aid Sleep

When the days shorten and the clocks change in autumn, I sometimes have problems sleeping.  This probably goes all the way back to the insomnia I suffered from in college and this time of year brings back those memories of wondering the dorm hallways and pacing the quad trying to get myself to sleep.  Most of the time I gave up trying to sleep and went over to the museum and cataloged artifacts in the wee hours of the morning.  It helped to know the security guards who would let me in.
lemon verbena
One of the first herbal remedies I employed with my first harvest back in the early 90s was a sleep pillow blend.  I cannot sew, so these were sealed into cotton bags and later oversized tea bags which I slipped into the pillow case.  As long as I kept from putting in catnip I generally got to keep the bags for myself.
There are several herbs you can choose when putting together a sleep enhancing pillow. Lavender is a popular herb for sleep-dream pillows, and was often used by Victorian ladies to relieve headaches.  Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena have an exceptionally soothing fragrance that is said to help depression. Rosemary was thought of traditionally as an herb that could guard against evil spirits and nightmares.
Any dried herbs you like may be added to a pillow.  Choose those whose scent appeals to you, but whatever you choose, remember that it should give off a soothing, subtle scent that promotes relaxation.  You can pick from angelica leaves, marjoram, rose petals, rose geranium leaves, lemon thyme, lavender, lemon balm, and lemon verbena.  Avoid mints as they are thought to be energizing and not so sleep enhancing.
The procedure for each blend is the same.  If using essential oil add it to the orris root powder (this is a fixative, like in potpourri that helps the pillow herbs keep their scent.)  Then mix in the ingredients and store in a covered jar for 2 weeks, shaking container daily.  Once cured place the dried flower mixture into a small pillow made of closely woven fabric or in a cotton teabag.
Lavender-Chamomile-Rose
2 oz. lavender flowers
1 oz. chamomile flowers
1 oz rose petals
2 tbsp. coriander seeds (lightly crushed),
1 sm. cinnamon stick (crumbled)
2 tbsp orris root powder

Lavender-Lemon Verbena-Rosemary

2 oz. lavender
1/2 oz. crumpled bay leaves
1 oz.lemon thyme
1 oz. rosemary
1 oz. lemon balm
1 oz. orris root powder, a few drops of lavender oil
Orange-Eucalyptus
2 oz. hops
1/2 oz. Eucalyptus
1 oz. meadowsweet
1 oz. woodruff
1 oz. crushed cloves
1 oz. crushed orange peel
1 oz. orris root, few drops sweet orange oil

If you do not have the ime or the herbs to craft these pillow inserts yourself, the Backyard Patch makes pillow sachets for sleep, relaxation and headaches.  You can find them all on our website under Pillow Sachets on the Bath and Spa Items Page (look down toward the bottom.)

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