Two things we love these days (who am I kidding? Have ALWAYS loved): beer and sleep. Craft beers have been on the rise for quite some time now, mostly due to their main ingredient, hops, that gives it the malty, bitter taste and helps to filter it. While more recently, 2017 has been named the year of “clean” and “pure” sleep. Okay, so you are thinking- what do the two have to do with each other? Well, research has shown that hops can also double as a natural sleep aid! And yes, alcohol can be the cause of a sleepless night, so it is better to consume hops in a non-alcoholic beer, in a herbal tea, or infused in a sachet to put in your pillowcase. But hey, one beer never hurt anyone, right? We won’t tell.
Hops has dated back to the 9th century in Europe when, apparently, workers were picking hop crops for brewing beer. They all started to feel drowsy and kept falling asleep on the job. Naturally, people started to ask questions. It has a history in herbal medicine because of its calming and sedative properties, and it was used for a variety of things from indigestion to leprosy. However, it did not start getting popular until it became a prominent ingredient in beer and scientists started researching the effects the plant has on our bodies.
So, down to the science. Hops is derived from the plant, Humulus Lupulus, which is best known for its aromatic properties but can also be used as a soothing agent.The sedative and hypnotic properties are due to the bitter acids and their oxidative degradation products that result in 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol, a compound believed to induce sleepiness from the activity of GABA on the central nervous system. Yeah, I am yawning just talking about it. Do not worry, there have been many studies that indicate hops is in fact a safe and effective sleep aid. One of which is as follows:
“the researchers divided the quails into 4 groups. While one group was given placebo, they gave the other 3 groups different doses (1mg, 2 mg and 11 mg per day) of hops for 1 week. The results of the study showed that the group given 2 mg/day of hops extract (the concentration normally found in beers) had the most significant reduction in night activity and the highest improvement in sleep duration.”
Other studies have been done that link drinking non-alcoholic beer with hops at dinnertime, which concluded that women who did so, showed an improvement in sleep quality and a reduction in anxiety. Not to mention, it is a safe alternative to prescription drugs. The FDA has approved hops and hops oil as GRAS status (generally recognized as safe,) and in Germany, Commission E (The equivalent to the FDA,) has approved it for aiding in anxiety, restlessness, and sleepless nights.
Have you heard of Valerian Root? It is an herb most commonly used for Insomnia. Combine the two together, you will be immediately knocked out. One of the best things about this natural sleep aid is the rapid relief that starts working right away. Studies have shown that combining the two of these together reduces the onset of sleep, the frequency of waking up during the night, and a more efficient sleep cycle. As well as being more efficient than prescription meds.
As I said in the beginning, the best way to incorporate hops into your life is by putting it in a tea, taking a supplement, or creating a hops pouch by stuffing it with dried hops and putting it in your pillowcase. You can also toss in some essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, passionflower, and orange. But, If you are a beer lover, it is best for it to be a non-alcoholic beer in order to reach its full potential. You will thank me later.