If you toss and turn when your head hits the pillow at night, maybe you need a different kind of pillow: a dream pillow filled with soothing scents. Dream pillows are small and flat, meant to be filled with herbs and tucked inside your regular pillow. Since the olfactory neurons go directly to the brain, snuggling up against one can create a relaxation response almost immediately.

It's easy to stitch your own dream pillow, using bits of fabric or a handkerchief. Leave an envelope-type opening in the back for inserting separate bags of herbs. Some of the most effective ones for inducing sleep are lavender and hops. Lemon-scented herbs, such as lemon verbena, are calming, as are rosemary and peppermint. Chamomile is reputed to keep nightmares at bay. If you have a cold, eucalyptus is a soothing choice. The herbs can be used by themselves or in any combination you find pleasing to your nose.

Dried herbs are the easiest choice for your dream pillow ( though lavender can be used fresh). The smell should last for some time, especially if you use a fixative (orris root or gum benzoin, available at health food stores) to make the scent last longer. When it starts to fade, just crush the herbs slightly within the pillow. Hops, however, are one herb that should be replaced every four to six months as they can become stale. Sprinkle dried herbs with water before putting them in the bag to soften them and prevent rustling when you turn your head on the pillow.

Here's a basic recipe for a sweet dream mixture:

1/2 cup chamomile flowers
1 cup rosemary leaves
1 cup pine needles
1 cup lavender flowers
1/4 cup sweet marjoram
1 tbsp. crushed aniseed
1 tbsp. pinhead orris root
4 drops bergamot essential oil

With your special slumber pillow tucked beneath your head, a soothing night's rest doesn't have to be a dream any longer!

Source: Vegetarian Times, September 1995