You know the drill: You get into bed at night, exhausted after a long day. You can’t wait to go to sleep. But then, as you close your eyes and get ready to get your REM cycle on, you start tossing and turning. You start thinking about the day you had or what you need to do tomorrow. Your brain just won’t shut off. Suddenly, you find yourself staring at the ceiling, wide awake. You just can’t sleep for the life of you.
This is probably when you give up and pop a sleeping pill. But sleeping pills aren’t the best way to naturally fall asleep. Benzodiazepines, one of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills, can not only be addictive, but can also cause a range of side effects from depression and dizziness to muscle weakness and impaired coordination.
Luckily, German researchers think they’ve found an answer to helping promote sleep more naturally—and it could be just as effective as using a medically prescribed sleeping pill: a jasmine plant.
In their study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, two fragrances of the jasmine plant have been found to be effective in promoting sleep: Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513). These fragrances were found to use the same molecular mechanism of action some commonly prescribed pills, working to soothe you to sleep in the same way.
In the study, a simple whiff of jasmine was also found to relieve anxiety and enhance our mood.
Here’s a little science lesson on how it all works: Sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates and certain anaesthetics such as propofol, perform their duties via specific adhesion sites on brain receptors located at nerve cell contact points. These increase the effect of the inhibiting endogenous neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA’s role is to reduce neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.
In the study, hundreds of fragrances were tested to see how they affect GABA receptions in both humans and mice. Low and behold, both vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) were the strongest ones, increasing the GABA effect by more than five times. That’s just as strongly as pills!
The study also ruled out the idea that the fragrance could be a sedative. Whether it was injected or inhaled, the fragrances generated a calming effect.
“We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered parentally and through the respiratory air,” says Prof. Hatt. “Applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable. The results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy.”
Okay, we know that was a lot of big words to take in, but basically: The mere smell of a jasmine plant can help you drift off into dreamland and even enhance your mood. You can likely find these at your local Home Depot or Lowes Department stores or even online at Amazon.
Did you know there were more natural ways to cure sleep problems than sleeping pills? Do you think you’ll try jasmine to sleep better or improve your mood?