The Inside Scoop: Do Not Disturb
Mar 12, 2021
With the recent launch of our newest sleep blend, Do Not Disturb, we took a moment to get the inside scoop on what it is like to create a blend from scratch with our incredible herbalist, Erin Antosh.
Take a peek at what she has to say about all the blending fun she gets into...and how she gets her Zzzz's at night.
What was the thought process behind the selection of these ingredients? As you were selecting them, how did you narrow down the herbs that you wanted to focus on and ultimately make the selection that you did?
There are true sedative herbs, and then there are herbs that calm the central nervous system down to allow the body to move into a deep relaxed state. Sedatives, in both herbal and pharmaceutical form, may induce sleep but do not address the root cause as to why you may have ongoing issues falling asleep or staying asleep.
As a Clinical Herbalist, I work with clients to address the root cause of their health issues, not just mask symptoms with a quick fix. I have found that the root cause of many of our sleep issues (and so many other health issues!) is we operate during the day in a high stress, caffeine-fueled, “fight or flight” mode. Chronic stress takes a toll on our nervous system and adrenals, making it very difficult for our bodies to enter into a “relax and repair” mode and get quality sleep.
When formulating this blend, I knew I wanted to create something that helped to restore healthy nervous-adrenal system function when used over time, and not just create another sedating sleep aid that knocks you out while covering up an underlying chronic issue. Also, regular use of sedatives have been shown to impact the mood negatively, triggering depression...no one needs that!
Of the herbs selected for this blend, which one(s) can we specifically thank for sending us off to our best sleep ever?
Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) is a calming adaptogen with research showing it reduces anxiety and depression, so it is great for people who experience nighttime anxiety or a racing mind that keeps them from falling asleep. When taken regularly at the same time every night it can train the nervous system to calm down in the evenings, helping to reset the body’s circadian rhythm and elicit sleep.
Mucuna Pruriens calms and nourishes the adrenal-nervous system to support restful sleep. It has also been shown to relieve anxiety, improve cognition, uplift the mood, and strengthen the immune system; support that is greatly needed when the body has been in a chronic state of stress. Mucuna Pruriens contains high levels of naturally occurring L-dopa, which is the precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that is essential for sleep, memory, mood, mental functions, and the central nervous system.
Let’s talk “central nervous system”! What does that have to do with our sleep and why is it important?
I see so many clients with sleep issues who also experience some level of anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity, and have a tendency towards depression. These are signs that their central nervous system is overtaxed, making it nearly impossible to truly unwind. It is no wonder they can’t turn off their racing mind at night when they have been operating in “fight or flight” mode all day! This is why so many people find that anti-anxiety drugs help them sleep - those drugs are targeting the central nervous system.
We can’t always make the stressors in our lives go away, but we can support our bodies in adapting to stress in a healthier manner. Retraining our nervous system to enter into a “relax and repair” mode nightly is very important, so we can get restorative sleep while allowing our bodies to tend to maintenance duties while we snooze.
What sets this sleep blend apart from other things on the market?
Not everyone responds well to popular sleep aids such as Melatonin and CBD. Using a natural approach to support your body really does require finding the right fit for your body - what works for one person may not work for you.
It is important to note that melatonin is not for long term use. It can be taken nightly for a maximum of two months, but then you should take a break from it so your body doesn’t develop a dependency. Melatonin is a supplement - supplementing when your body is not adequately producing the amount of melatonin it needs to support a healthy sleep and wake cycle. Ideally, you want to get to the root of the problem, and support your body in naturally producing the melatonin it needs to regulate your circadian rhythm. If melatonin supplementation works for you, it is a sign you should dig deeper into the underlying issue and support your body in naturally increasing melatonin production, instead of continuing to provide your body with an external source of melatonin that was created in a lab.
As for CBD, the CBD market is oversaturated, making it very difficult to find a high quality CBD product amidst all of the marketing and health-washing. CBD can truly be an effective tool for sleep, but finding an organically grown, full spectrum, CBD product without additives is difficult these days. On top of that, CBD doesn’t have a pleasant taste, so many companies will add high concentrations of essential oils to hide CBD’s off-putting flavor in tinctures. Although essential oils are natural, I am not an advocate for ingesting essential oils (unless you are getting the benefits of the naturally occurring amounts of essential oils in whole plants). The potency of the essential oils added to CBD products can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and kill off good bacteria in your delicate microbiome. For something you may be taking on a nightly basis, it is important to assess whether the ingredients used in combination with CBD to make your gummies or tincture support your health.
How would you suggest preparing Do Not Disturb? It seems to be great on it’s own in water!
This blend stands out from other Apothékary blends because it was specifically formulated to be enjoyed by just adding hot water, making it super easy to make it a part of your bedtime routine. Both the olfactory benefits of the floral scent of the blend as well as the herbal properties calm the nervous system. The trick is letting it steep to get the full flavor and maximum sleep-inducing power.
If you taste it immediately after adding hot water to the blend, it doesn’t have much flavor. But if you let it steep for 5 minutes after adding hot water, the flavor really comes out of the herbs and into the water. Additionally, letting the herbs steep for at least 5 minutes allows the medicinal properties of the herbs to diffuse into the water, so you will get more of the sleepy vibes from their blend if you allow some steeping time.
Always add the blend to your mug first, and then pour almost boiling water (the water hasn’t reached a full roaring boil) over the blend, stir, and then let it steep for at least 5 minutes. After a 5 minute steep, give it another good stir, and enjoy your blend about 1-2 hours before you plan to fall asleep. The herbs will continue to steep as you sip, so the flavor and herbal properties continue to be enhanced as you enjoy your cup.
Mind sharing your fave recipe of the blend? We’d love to hear how you’re personally using this one!
To further enhance the calming properties of this blend, add some adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and/or Reishi Mushroom. Instead of using hot water, you can use a hot tea you have brewed such as chamomile, passionflower, or skullcap to add sedative properties.
Instead of using hot water in this blend, I like to use hot oat milk warmed on the stove. It has enough of a water content to allow the herbs to steep, while oats contain tryptophan - an amino acid that helps the brain get into a relaxed state (and is a precursor to melatonin production).
Research shows that if you don’t get into a REM sleep phase or have enough of a REM state to provide a restful night’s sleep, it could be due to a calcium deficiency. Calcium, especially when paired with magnesium, helps the cells in our brains use tryptophan to create melatonin. If you can tolerate dairy, the calcium and magnesium in warm, full fat goat milk or cow's milk combined with this blend may provide the calcium boost you need to support your REM sleep phase.