Dried sedative herbs (lavender, lemon balm, catmint/catnip, chamomile, lemon verbena)

Felt squares

Lace handkerchiefs or squares of lace (optional)

Needles, and thread


Fold the felt square in half. Thread the needle and stitch up the sides of the felt to make a large flat pocket. Fill with 1/2 to 1 cup of sedative herbs. Stitch the top of the pocket closed. Shake to make sure the herbs cannot come out of the pillow. OPTIONAL STEPS: Can decorate the felt first if desired—using cut out felt pieces loosely stitched onto the flat felt before sewing it. (Examples: Felt letters spelling SLEEP, or REST, or PEACE. Felt shapes to create a blossom, or a heart. Can also stitch a piece of lace or a lace handkerchief onto the felt as it is stitched into the large pocket.

NOTE: If use of needles is not recommended for your setting or population, instead of felt, use a heavy cotton fabric. Instead of stitching the sleep pillow, use fabric glue to form the sleep pillow. You may need to reduce the amount of herbs filling the pillow to help it last longer.


Talk about how sedative herbs can create a gentle, natural sense of relaxation which can help induce sleep or reduce pain. Lavender, in particular, can relax the large muscles of the body, which reduces a person’s perception of pain. Placing the completed sleep pillow underneath an individual’s regular pillow will gently scent the pillow and can enhance relaxation to lead to more restful sleep.

Discuss the purpose of sleep and rest, and how most Americans live with sleep debt. Invite group members to track their sleep for a week—the time they go to bed, approximately how long it takes to fall asleep, what time they wake up in the morning, how many times they woke in the night and why, and how rested they feel upon arising. Encourage them to look for patterns that create a barrier to healthy sleep and rest. Discuss sleep hygiene tips and help group members identify specific ways they can improve their sleep. Discuss the health benefits of adequate rest, and the health risks of too little sleep.

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