When’s the last time you had a truly spectacular dream? What did it look like? Maybe you were flying through the starlit night sky, cozied up in a cabin atop a beautiful mountain peak, or even sharing sweet kisses with someone swoon-worthy.
It can be really nice to wake up smiling in the morning with faint, fantastic memories like these. They may even leave you wondering how you can achieve these beautiful dream experiences on a more regular basis.
At the very least, the dream world is a space you can use to simply enjoy a world unlike the one you live in every day.
But for many people, dreaming is much more than that. It can be a tool for emotional healing, gaining wisdom from the Universe, helping you process events or feelings from the day, or even working through memories from the past. Some even consider their dreams to be messages or omens about what will happen to them in the future.
It’s a personal thing, how you interpret these strange visions that occur once your head hits the pillow.
How to get better at dreaming
Here’s the fun part: you can actually get better at dreaming. Of course, you might have a few different goals—do you want to remember more of your dreams? Have more vivid dreams? Maybe even lucid dream?—it’s likely you can achieve any or all of these things by adopting some new habits and with some help from some herbal friends.
A commonly recommended practice to help you remember your dreams is to journal. Every morning when you wake up, jot down a few things you remember from your dreams from the night before. You’d be surprised how quickly this can improve how much you’re able to remember about your dreams.
As far as lucid dreaming, there are entire books devoted to achieving this dream state — where you are aware that you are dreaming and able to control what happens. Some people say the simplest way to start working towards lucid dreaming is to make a point to look at your hands throughout the day. Notice your hands and what they look like when you hold them out in front of you. The idea is that you will start doing this regularly enough that you will do it one night while you are dreaming, and then you will know that are dreaming and be able to go from there.
I know that for me, when I have a particularly pleasant, insightful, or even juicy dream, I often set the intention and even say a little prayer in hopes that the story might continue in the next night’s dreams. I also turn to my plant allies—herbs—to help guide me into my desired dreamstate.
Today we want to talk about herbs that can help you on this journey to better dreams. They each work slightly differently, so you may feel drawn to using one over the other.
Together, this can be your arsenal for moving forward and experiencing happy, vivid, memorable dreams.
5 herbs for dreams
If falling into a deep sleep is a challenge for you, here’s where you should start. Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is a muscle relaxant that has been long been used to ease anxiety and promote sleep. You’ll often notice it in sleep-oriented tea blends, and there is actually a decent amount of scientific evidence to verify it’s sleep-inducing qualities.
Valerian is a perennial plant with beautiful pink little blooms. The root is where the magic is, which is often prepared as tea but also can be taken as a supplement or used as a tincture.
In addition to helping you sleep, valerian root is said to improve your ability to remember your dreams. Combine it with a journaling practice and you’ll surely improve your dream recall!
A little note about valerian—it can be strong, and it also has a smell and taste that some people love or hate. If you find that it’s a bit much for you in terms of strength, smell, or taste, you might start with it by blending a small amount of it with other more aromatic/flavorful herbs, and see how that goes for you.
Alright now that we’re sleeping deeply, let’s get creative.
This is where mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) comes in, said to help you achieve creativity and lucid dreaming.
I once had a friend who said she didn’t understand how people could say they weren’t creative or didn’t have an imagination. Just look at dreams! A totally made up world that you subconsciously (or sometimes, consciously) create, with all your own colors and characters and situations.
Mugwort helps you tap into this creativity, said to even magnify color in dreams.
It’s often referenced throughout history for it ability to ward off evil—which is great, because if we’re going to be dreaming vividly, we don’t want anything spooky going on.
The best part? It grows just about everywhere. So if you’re interested in wildcrafting your own herbs this is a great one to start with.
Mugwort has a flavor profile that’s a mildly bitter and a little earthy, and is great to use when setting dreamy intentions.
Wild Asparagus Root
Said to have a positive effect on the heart, wild asparagus root (Asparagus cochinchinensis) is what we turn to when we want to have magnificent dreams.
According to Sacred Science, its other name is ‘The Flying Herb,’ because it’s believed to help you fly through the universe while you’re dreaming. Shamans, monks, and yogis alike have continued to include it in ceremony to open the heart.
You don’t have to go to a temple or ashram to work with wild asparagus root though—you can enjoy it right in your own home! Brewed as a tea, this is a great herb for dreams that are spectacularly joyous.
Here’s the bonus: it’s also a lung tonic, helping to remove toxins and keep them moist. What could be better than breathing a little easier while you dream?
If you’re someone who has nightmares, perhaps you’ll benefit from our favorite cleansing herb: sage (Salvia officinalis).
Sage is thought to clear away bad energy. You’ve probably seen a ‘smudge stick,’ made with white sage (Salvia apiana), which is burned and waved ceremoniously around a person or a space to perform this clearing.
Click HERE to check out my Detoxifying Salt Bath Ritual, which incorporates white sage.
And here’s a cool thing—it actually does clean your space. In 2007, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a study that showed that burning medicinal smoke for an hour reduced pathogenic microorganisms in the air by a whopping 90%! This isn’t limited to just sage, but sage is one of the most common herbs to use for this.
If you don’t like the idea of burning something as part of your nighttime ritual, try using the essential oil in your diffuser along with rosewood, lavender, or citrus oils.
*Note – We didn’t mention clary sage (Salvia sclarea) in this article, which is also believed to be a great dream herb. Note though that though related, it is a different plant than the sage we are describing here.
Here’s where aromatherapy is your best friend. The scent of jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum or officinale) is said to be an aphrodisiac, and given that it has this effect on you while you’re awake, it makes sense that this powerful flower can also help you have romantic dreams.
All you need to do is stick this baby in your essential oil diffuser and let her work her magic while you snooze.
You can also prepare a sachet of dried lavender flowers and sleep with it under your pillow, or drink a tea made from the flowers. Or mix it with water to create a dilute spray to spritz on your bedding.
There are many, many herbs that have both traditional lore and clinical research explaining their roles in dreaming. These are just a few. As you begin working with herbs, I recommend starting with one at a time and then venturing into simple blends. It’s important to write down your impressions of the herb both when you take it, and how it affects you both in awake and dream states in your journal, or materia medica.
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Are you a deliberate dreamer?
Please share what’s worked—or not—for your own dream practice in the comments below!