There are a number of herbs that have been used in various places for helping with sleep, and many for the aid in dreaming. In contemporary cultures, the interest in enhancing sleep seems to be stemming from an obsession with productivity, that the choices to increase restfulness as night is related to becoming more efficient at work the next day. But it’s not uniformly that way, where everyone is only interested in work output. There are countless claims that more traditional cultures are more in tune with their dreams than the so-called civilized places, but this is probably based on romantic ideas about others, and jaded notions of ourselves. In fact, the knowledge from cultures around the world tends to feed a larger pool, and it’s one that we all draw from.
So when one starts to look into the kinds of herbs that are known for their effects on enhancing dreams, it might be wise to ask a few very simple questions. The most important one, perhaps, has to do with the nature of the enhancement. Mugwort does seem to be commonly regarded as having the effect of making dreams more lucid, or improving the way one might remember their dreams the next morning. There are also other herbs that can help to make one more relaxed, and to sleep more deeply, that might help one to forget the kinds of dreams that can make a day feel a little more haunted than usual. For all of their other benefits, taking antioxidants can help with deeper sleep as well. There are studies that show that the body produces more antioxidants on its own when it has the chance to sleep through the night, going through all the cycles the proper number of times. Herbs and vitamins, then, seem to be the most useful, and easiest on the body and mind, when they compliment what the body is already producing on its own.
Of course, that’s one of the basic principles of herbal healing in the first place. In a metaphorical way, it does seem to mirror the way dreaming works, or at least in terms of how many cultures conceive the mechanisms of the dream. For herbal healing, the body is producing some of what it needs, but not quite enough, and with some careful moderation, the addition of herbs can restore it to balance (or put it on the other side of that balance, which is what intoxication does). In the same way, dreaming is often considered to be the residue of conscious thought. What the mind has not produced in conscious thought during the day will come out during the night in dreams. It’s a matter of mental balance, or emotional, psychological, or spiritual balance. Perhaps this is why herbs, or any kind of nutritional modulations, can have profound effects on dreams, because those basic structures are mirrors of each other.