There is an older article in this blog on the Neem tree and its medicinal benefits but it does not mention its effects on sleep. For years now what was happening to my sleep is that after sleeping well for a few hours, sometime in the middle of the night I used to get up and feel completely awake. If I stayed awake after that, I would feel tired the next day. Therefore I would just take a cup of tea, sit out in the patio for about half an hour, or work on a computer when after an hour or so a second round of deep sleep came. However, this also delayed the morning hour to get up.
Four days ago, due to some unrelated reasons, I took a bunch of Neem leaves from a tree nearby and chewed them in the evening at around 5 pm. That night, I woke up again in the middle of the night for a visit to toilet and from old habit decided to check emails for an hour or so. But the moment I turned on the computer, I was sleepy again and began to doze off on the keyboard so I shut off the computer and went back to sleep.
I lead a fairly regulated and disciplined life and next day wondered what was different in my diet or routine to have caused this change. Running my mind through activities of the previous day, the realization came that chewing Neem leaves was perhaps the only difference. Therefore, for the next three days, I have repeated the exercise and have slept well, getting up once only for a few minutes every night to visit the toilet. As a result, I get up sooner in the morning too and feel fresher during the day.
Unsure still as to why this happened, I searched google for effects of the medicinal Neem tree on sleep, known for its many other benefits. I found a book by John Cornick – Neem: The Ultimate Herb in google books and this is what he said on page 50,
“Neem has been proven to reduce stress and relax muscles producing an effect conducive to sleep”
Dr. Cornick recommends a tea of Neem leaves before sleep at night, but I am quite satisfied by my own method of chewing the bitter Neem leaves in the evening for now (about 20 to 30 leaves that are neither too old nor too new) just as one might chew on bubble gum. As such the leaves are also supposed to have other health benefits, therefore I intend continuing with this habit and will report back in this post about any new experience with it as an update later. Do note that the leaves do not make one sleepy immediately, since they were chewed at 5 pm and I went to sleep at my usual hour of 10 pm or so. This tree grows widely in warmer parts of the planet and if friends in cooler parts wish to try it, they would have to get dried leaves and consume a tea of that perhaps or discover another herb that grows in the area producing the same effect.
May we end with a classical folk tale about Neem,
|Oil on canvas by Vincent Van Gogh ( cropped image)|
A man wished to go and work in the city but his wife did not want that. She sought the advice of a village hermit. The hermit said do not stop him because he would not agree, rather extract a promise from him, to sleep under tamarind trees on the way to the city, the journey was a ten day walk, and on return to sleep under Neem trees. The hermit knew the secret of trees and of the effects of their vapors on human health. The man was back in a couple of weeks. He described that as he walked to the city he became sicker and sicker and therefore decided to return, but on his way back he got better and better by the day so he has now returned all well and healthy and he would now not go to the city again because it does not agree with his health.
Praise Mother Earth for populating our planet with such wonderful herbs and trees.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Neem_leaves_Neem_Leaves.jpg