Sweet Dreams Sleep Tincture Recipe

homemade tincture to help kids sleep better

I love this natural sleep tincture recipe, made from some of my favorite herbs. It is a mildly and naturally relaxing and calming tincture that is great for sleep disturbances. We don’t have to use it often, but when one of the kids is sick, or we are traveling and their schedules are crazy, this natural tincture helps them sleep peacefully.

And it doesn’t work just for kids … adults who struggle with insomnia or anxiety can benefit from a sleep tincture too.

What Is a Sleep Tincture?

A tincture simply takes the proven health benefits of herbs and concentrates them in liquid form.

If you’ve tried any kind of “sleepy time tea” and found relaxing, sleep-promoting benefits, a tincture can work even better. Tincture recipes usually use some kind of extraction method to release all the benefits of the herbs, and then add a natural preservative like alcohol or glycerin to further extract and make the tincture shelf-stable for a long time to come.

Because tinctures are powerful, last so long, and are so easy and inexpensive to make (if you have an herb garden, you already have a lot of the ingredients!), I rely on tinctures for complaints like tummy troubles, colic or teething, sore throats, or even as a multivitamin. I even have one I like to use for postpartum healing.

Are Tinctures Safe?

Tinctures have been used in herbal medicines since ancient times.

There are as many uses for tinctures as there are herbs, but make sure to research carefully before creating a new concoction. Just because something comes from nature doesn’t mean it is safe to concentrate and ingest! Quite the opposite sometimes, actually.

Mountain Rose Herbs is both a wonderful resource for solid herbal information, and a great source for what you may not have on hand in your garden.

Sleep Tincture Recipe


  • 2 TBSP dried yarrow flowers (relaxing and nutrient packed)
  • 2 TBSP dried catnip (naturally calming)
  • 2 TBSP dried oatstraw (also helps with bed wetting)
  • 2 TBSP chamomile flowers (calming and relaxing)
  • 1 TBSP dried mint leaves
  • 1 TBSP dried hops flowers
  • 1 TBSP dried stevia leaf
  • boiling water (if using dried herbs, not if using fresh)
  • 2 cups 80-proof or stronger vodka or rum
  • glass quart-size canning jar with airtight lid


  1. Put all herbs in clean glass jar. (Tinted, or keep away from sunlight.)
  2. Pour boiling water to just cover the herbs and mix well. Steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Fill the jar the rest of the way with vodka or rum alcohol. (NOTE: Not rubbing alcohol!)
  4. Cap with airtight lid and leave in cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks and up to 8, shaking daily.
  5. After the desired steeping time, strain the herbs out using muslin or cheesecloth and store in small tincture bottles for use as needed. (I use 2 ounce bottles and the droppers that come with them.)
  6. Normal daily dose is 2-3 droppers full for adults and 1 dropper full for kids over two.


  • Always ask a doctor before using any herbs, especially on children, if pregnant, or if you have a medical condition.
  • If avoiding alcohol for health or personal reasons, there are options. Try making a tincture made with vegetable glycerin instead. (It will not be as potent or long-lasting, but it works!)
  • If alcohol is only a mild concern, try adding the tincture dose to a hot cup for tea and wait 10 minutes or so for some alcohol to evaporate.

Where to Get Ingredients

I order all the ingredients that I don’t grow in my garden from Mountain Rose Herbs, which is the best source I’ve found, but you may be able to find some of these locally. Start with a very small dose, especially in children, as it typically works very well, even at low doses.

Ever have trouble sleeping? What’s your remedy?

This homemade herbal sleep tincture recipe helps promote restful sleep, especially during times of stress or illness.

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Reader Comments

  1. i don’t remember if i have asked you before, but i’m guessing that using the alcohol is a must for the tincture…. does the alcohol remain in the product or is it considered “alcoholic”? i want to try this so bad!!!

    • It does contain the alcohol while it is in containers, though if
      alcohol is an issue, just put the amount of the tincture you are
      planning to take in water and leave on the counter for an hour or
      so… the alcohol will evaporate first, and it will just be a strong,
      water based tincture at that point.

      • If I use vegetable glycerin can I use this for my one year old? Like a small dose of a few drops?

        • Glycerin can be used in place of alcohol in any recipe, but it will have a much shorter shelf life (Ive been told within a few months at best). Using vodka, it is said – will have an indefinite shelf life.

  2. If you wanted to use vegetable glycerin to make this tincture, how would you adjust the recipe?

  3. you would use glycerin 1 for 1 to replace vodka.

  4. Tinctures are relatively easy to make and this is  a good one. Great recipe.

  5. We love to make loose leaf tea with camomile to help with sleep, works great and my son loves it!

  6. Not to be cheeky but I’m suffering from insomnia now. In 2-8 I may as well be SOL. lol

  7. I would love to try this for my 8 year old daughter who is very restless & has a lot of trouble falling asleep…but she is also very picky, so I am wondering how this would taste?  Does it have an alcohol taste to it? I was also thinking of chamomile tincture.

    • most tinctures, after you drop them into a little water, wont really taste like anything. just be siure to put it in something or it will be rough!

  8. Where do you get all the ingredients?

  9. For those who don’t want to use alcohol you can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar (apple cider is my preference) instead of the vodka. When I give tinctures to my son I usually mix it in a little juice or in water so that it dilutes the strong taste.

  10. #3. Fill the jar the rest of the way with alcohol (don’t use rubbing or grain alcohol!) Okay, most of today’s hooch is ethanol, or grain alcohol. So for clarity, are you saying not to use whiskey and isopropol alcohol? 

    • Haha… thanks for the clarification. Yes, definitely no isopropyl alcohol and vodka is preferable to whiskey…

    • WARNING: Sciency answer… but may be of interest if you’re curious and frugal. Go to the bottom if you don’t care about the science/process.

      Typically when people say “grain alcohol”, they’re referring to “pure grain alcohol” (e.g., “PGA” or brand name Everclear). For tinctures, there isn’t any difference between vodka and PGA other than the amount you use. Vodka is made by making “pure” alcohol (~95% by volume after triple distillation, limited to 95.6%ABV no matter how many times its distilled due to the chemistry of ethanol/water solution) and then diluting it back down to 40%ABV (80 proof) by adding water. PGA is just undiluted vodka with a sugar source that is from a grain (barley, wheat, rye, etc).

      Whiskey/bourbon, rum, tequila are also all the same from a tincture perspective (the alcohol is the key because it draws out chemicals that water doesn’t). The flavor will be different and it doesn’t make economic sense to use something that was aged in a barrel (which you pay for) when you could use something cheaper for the same (better flavor) effect.

      Some folks will shy away from “PGA” because it’s made with grains that have gluten. No worries here either. Gluten is not volatile (won’t boil) at distillation temperatures and cannot physically go up the column into the distillate. So even PGA/vodka made from superglutenized wheat with a gluten kicker in the beer/mash will have 0 gluten. Gluten issues with PGA/vodka are psychosomatic.

      BOTTOM LINE: To use PGA instead of vodka, you have to do some simple math. For this recipe with 2 cups of 80 proof (40%ABV) vodka, you have 0.8 cups of actual ethanol (2 * 0.4 = 0.8 cups ethanol). If you substituted 190 proof PGA (95%ABV), you would need ~5/6 of a cup of PGA:
      0.8 cups ethanol = 0.95 * x
      x = 0.8/0.95 = 0.842 which is a hint more than 0.833 or 5/6 cups
      In my kitchen, that’s going to be rounded to a cup and I’ll just pour a little lighter. To end with the same concentration, you make up the another cup with plain water. The MONEY SAVING point is that Everclear is almost the same price per 750ml bottle as any decent vodka (~$20 or $100/gallon). So use Everclear and dilute it down with your tap water that you pay $0.002/gallon. For this recipe, the difference is more than $50/gallon, which adds up if you make a lot of tinctures. The alcohol is what is making the tincture anyway, so you could just skip the water altogether and half the dosage (since the same amount of alcohol-soluble active chemicals will dilute into approximately half the volume of Everclear as water). Try both ways… there may be some water-soluble components to this particular recipe that are important for the effect.

      Here’s the math: 2 cups * 40% alcohol (e.g. 80 proof) = 0.8 cups alcohol = 5/6 cup * 95% alcohol

  11. I read (on Wikipedia to be transparent) that yarrow is a stimulant. Do you think it is a good idea to put that in a sleep tincture?

    • Maybe you should ask the REAL author of the recipe………..

      -link removed for spam-

      Yarrow is similar to chamomile and aids in restful sleep.

      • Wow- You just accused me of stealing my own content (from a site that actually did steal my content). I removed the link because that site is just pulling other authors work and using it for click bait to make money from ads. The date on that post was a year after this original post. This post was photographed (poorly, I might add, since I was new to blogging) on my wedding dishes so I find it really humorous that you accused me of copying the content. In reply to Marisa’s original question though- a very small number of people will react strangely to yarrow and it will keep them awake (just as a small percentage of people will not do well with magnesium or other substances), but I’ve found it helpful in this recipe.

  12. Hi, I made this and noticed a kind of…different looking layer of my tincture.  It’s not my first tincture, but it is my first with raw ginger….so is this normal?  Thanks!

    • Were all the herbs submerged and did you use the same amounts of alcohol listed? If so, it should be fine. Is the layer on top?

      • Wow, I never saw this reply. I’m so encouraged! 🙂 So the layer was between some of the herbs, when it settled that is. Also, I was wondering, what size dropper to you use? Now that I’ve made a few different tinctures and I see a “dropper full” I’m wondering what size the bottle is that its going in b/c the bottle size makes a difference in the dropper size. THanks!!!

  13. I’m sorry, when I saw “2 cups of vodka” I had to laugh! That would put anyone out cold. -I know, it’s not served that way- just struck me is all. This looks good, I will give it a go. I’m also a fan of 40WinksTea.com . it’s kind of like this and my daughter can make it herself before bed.

  14. Are all the ingredients in this recipe pregnancy safe?

    • I would take any of them during pregnancy (though might omit the hops), but I’d definitely check with your doc or midwife before taking anything while pregnant.

  15. I buy a California Poppy tincture for insomnia that works very well. Do you have any idea how one would go about making a tincture safely for California Poppy?

    • Tinctures are very easy to make. Just chop finely and get as much of the fresh herb (or flower) as you can into a clean jar and fill with 40% vodka (40% will extract medicinal benefits from most herbs). Obviously get the best quality herbs you can – pick well away from rail lines and roads, and not where parks are sprayed with weedkiller. Then I put in a cupboard for 6-8 weeks and shake/turn upside down as often as I can (every day if possible – I do my shakes while waiting for the kettle to boil for tea). Then strain through clean muslin, into a glass jar and label with as much info as you can. There you go! Take 2/3 x 5ml (a teaspoon) per day or if very severe double that until you see an improvement!

      I’m not a qualified herbalist so of course you could/should check what you are doing with other sources. But I’ve done a few herbal courses about making these things for friends and family and have used on myself and my family and really you can’t go far wrong with making your own tinctures I think.

      Of course if you can’t get access to the fresh herb or flower then you might want to buy a ready made one – don’t be tempted to use dried herbs – doesn’t work half as well.

    • have you ever seen the tv show worlds dumbest? they are out there

  16. Question: Is there anything in this tincture that would pose a problem with high blood pressure. My doctor doesn’t know much about herbs.

    • As far as I know, but I’d definitely do some research on it…

  17. could we use powdered stevia (the real stuff…like the leaf, but just already ground up. I’m not referring to the white commercial stuff.)? If so, how much? Thanks.

  18. This sounds great, but I guess I’m a little confused about the catnip. 1. I thought it was just for cats, and 2. Catnip is supposed to make cats more hyper, so how is it calming?

    • It is a calming nervine herb for humans… it just creates an excitement reaction in cats.

  19. What does the mint do for a sleep tincture?

  20. Is this safe during pregnancy? Thanks!

    • Never mind! I see that you already answered this for someone else!

  21. I’m curious if you used peppermint or spearmint leaves for this recipe or if they are interchangable in this case? Thanks!

  22. I am opposed to using stevia. Is coconut sugar a viable alternative?

  23. I have a 14 month old son who has very bad gerds and troubles sleeping though the night, I have just started the natural path way, and I was wondering if this was a safe tincture for him?

  24. Hi
    I picked several mullein plants this summer out in Montana. They are dry now so I can make a tincture. I have flowers and leaves. Should I make them separately or just put them all together? Are there any types of mullein that are not good for you? These were about to blossom with yellow flowers.

  25. I have heard that valerian root is also good for insomnia. Could I add that to your recipe as well? If so, how much might you recommend?

    PS I love all your stuff! Thank you for helping us all on our “crunchy” journey :o)

  26. There is no way I would give vodka to my kid, he prefers Tequila slammers!

  27. I use successfully a store-bought valerian root tincture.

  28. I just ordered all the necessary items for this. Fingers crossed for my husband with insomnia and my kiddo with autism!

  29. Is this ok to use for 5 mo externally? like rub on the soles of the feet and would it work if done so?

  30. Hello I have a few questions. should the drops be taken by them self or drooped in water or a choice of beverage? When you say droppserful you do mean filling up the drop correct? Last but most importantly when will I be doing this, will I be taking in the drops right before bed or will it be 2-3 drops thought the day several times?

  31. Are the hops and stevia necessary for this tincture to be effective as a sleep remedy? Frontier doesn’t have hops, and my family is not big on stevia. Is the stevia just for sweetening? Thanks!

  32. What size glass jar should be used? This would seem to make a big difference with the amount of water and vodka used. Thank you!

  33. I’m sorry I was just wondering I out the liquid in with another drink when using it correct?? Also, can I not use it until the two weeks are up and after eight weeks foes it need to be disposed?

  34. Hi Katie, I just used the herbs to make a loose leaf tea (using the same ratio and then just putting the mixed herbs into a strainer ball). I would like to give try this out on my daughter as she has a terrible cold right now. If I wanted to warm some up with honey and put it in a bottle do I need to dilute it? How much would I give her if it’s a tea and not a tincture? Thanks!

  35. the comment that oat straw helps with bedwetting is intriguing. would you give a bed wetter (who doesn’t have trouble sleeping, and therefore wouldn’t need the sleep tincture) oat straw tea before bed, or make an all oat straw tincture?

    • I am wondering the same thing ^^^^^^

  36. *I* am the author of this recipe. The link on that site links directly to this recipe.

  37. hi, what would you say would be the maximum dose for this recipe per day? and how many drops are in a dropper full? im making a stress relief gummy and was going to use this tincture with a couple of extras and no hops. But i wasnt sure about the max dose when combined together like this. (also will make it with glycerin)

  38. I’ve been on my own mission for the last three years — intense, self-directed study of all things herbal, primarily form widely read books, less from other media. I recall only once or twice (aside from your newer tinctures) seeing the boiling water technique. While I’ve come to the conclusion that tincturing is nearly as much art as science, it would seem impossible to maintain consistent results from batch to batch, as more water in one batch would dilute the solvent, making the extraction less effective. I am assuming the use of dried herbs, which could have quite a range of retained moisture.
    Now for my questions: What is the purpose of the boiling water? Could that step be omitted? If not, would you also use it if using fresh herbs? And finally, from one of the 2012 posts, it appears that this tincture had contained fresh ginger at some point, and if so, would it hurt to add a bit?

  39. What a wonderful discovery this site has been! Thank you Katie.

    I would like to make the recipe above, but don’t know what amount of the dried herbs would make a tbsp. I’m assuming they, and any other bulky herb, would need to be crushed before measuring.

  40. Hi I was wondering if this would be safe to use while pregnant. I am in my second trimester about 19 weeks. I am having a hard time falling back to sleep after getting up to use the bathroom. I want to try something natural not benadryl like was recommended to me. Please help need sleep.

  41. HI there.. I would l ike to know more about this recipe but i have a question.. CAN you make it with JUST water.. I have meliatoxicity and i am allergic to alcohol.

    • You could make a tea that way, but it would not have a long shelf life…

  42. Thank you for sharing this recipe! It’s wonderful!

  43. If one leaves the herbs in the alcohol for longer than three weeks, does, the tincture become stronger? And if so, how long can you let the herbs soak in the alcohol for them to continue to become more potent? Is it possible to leave the herbs in the alcohol too long for any reason?

  44. WORKS! ?
    I have Adrenal Fatigue with sky rocketed Cortisol levels. I’m exhausted to the point of losing my mind. I made this tincture as soon as I could get the ingredients. I left out the Oatstraw & mint and did put it in Vodka even though I’m on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. My stomach just cannot tolerate Apple Cider Vinegar. I put the tincture in water in the evening and by bedtime there is no smell or taste of alcohol.
    I started using my tincture after just two weeks because I was so desperate! It worked the very first night and is still working now 4 weeks later. (hasnt even been the recommended 6 yet)
    I’m taking supplements like 5HTP, GABA, and all sorts of things to get my glands, gut, cortisol, etc. back in order, but this tincture is what is allowing me to sleep finally. I went from maybe sleeping three restless very light sleeping hours to getting a full six hours of deep sleep. I dream again. Oh sweet sweet dreams!
    PS I also highly recommend diffusing Essential Oils. And not just Lavender. There’s some evidence too many drops of lavender can actually stimulate you. Also, mint is a stimulator, so don’t brush your teeth before bed with minty stuff! Good Luck & Sweet Dreams!

  45. Hi how are you is 40% too low and can I put chamoline, lavender and catnip together in the kat thanks

  46. Wellness Mama!
    I have just joined the wonderful world of studying herbalism online. I am taking classes from HERBAL ACADEMY OF NEW ENGLAND…
    Anyway..this is the first tincture recipe that I have seen with alcohol AND water.
    Can you explain to me why the water is used so I have a better understanding?

    • The boiling water helps extract more of the beneficial properties of the herbs than the alcohol alone, but just alcohol could be used.

  47. Can you use Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey 101 for tincture?

    • Hey Martha, I’ve used Wild Turkey 101 successfully for many tinctures! The higher proof means that it extracts more effectively, and personally, I enjoy taking a “shot” before bedtime ; )

  48. what about witch hazel instead of alcoholic?

  49. Wellness Mama,
    Is there any way to buy a sample of this tincture from you? My son has severe Autism and to say we are desperate is an understatement. Many nights he does not sleep more than 30 minutes at a time. On rare occasions he may sleep an entire 3 hours before waking on and off the rest of the night. We’ve tried almost everything and nothing seems to phase him.
    If we could try it and know that it works, we will make it by the gallons.
    Thank you!

    • I don’t make it to sell (nor do I have time!), just for my own personal use and for a few friends and family members…

    • Constance, we often buy tinctures from Heaven Help Me, a store on Facebook, and have been very happy with them. The calm down tincture has worked very well for our family.
      I also was just reading today actually about zinc being helpful for people with autism.
      I hope you are able to find something that works for your family and helps your son sleep through the night!

  50. Are hop flowers the same as dried hops?

  51. I make a calming tincture with st johns wort, valerian scullcap, and hops.

  52. I have a huge yarrow plant in my yard. If I want to use the flowers do I leave them until they dry or do I sniff them off and drive them in a bag? I so appreciate you and all that you share with us

  53. I’ve had insomnia for at least 15 years, and have to take sleep medication. Occasionally I do not get even a wink of sleep, although most of the time I do the list of recommendations from physicians: sunshine in the morning, no caffeine after 11 AM, exercise, no social media at least two hours prior to bedtime, low light in the evening, etc. It is a desperate thing to be walking the floor at 4 AM knowing that you’ve already wasted 6 hours trying to sleep. I might fall asleep 2 times a month without a struggle. I will make the tincture, but will need to purchase all ingredients. Here’s my question: since I take sleep meds every night, can I take the tincture and the meds.

  54. How long do the dried herbs last? I ordered them all but have way more than I need for a batch.