Does sleep tea really work? Inside bedtime tea
The idea that our bedtime woes can be alleviated by simply sipping on some sleepy tea seems too good to be true.
Tea for Sleep - Fact or Fiction
As with all natural remedies, bedtime tea affects different people in different ways. We do, however, have a good understanding of how the active ingredients in popular sleep teas work on the human body, and which teas are best for specific ailments.
Your guide to nap and night time tea
Lemon Balm and Lemongrass Tea
Lemon balm is a fragrant member of the mint family of plants, and like many other herbs, it is believed to help increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain - an amino acid responsible for slowing down activity in your central nervous system. Lemon balm tea also contains rosmarinic acid, which has also been believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemongrass tea, which is from the grass family, is also known to reduce inflammation, and breathing in its fresh scent is a quick and easy way to calm the nerves.
Great for: Fans of fresh, light flavours.
Avoid if: You’re pregnant or have thyroid issues.
Chamomile tea has been used to relax the mind and body for millennia, and for good reason. The chamomile flower contains apigenin, a chemical that can bind to the brain’s GABA receptors in much the same way that tranquillisers like benzodiazepine do. And, as this tea is made only of chamomile flowers, it is a perfect bedtime sip for purists who want to know exactly what they’re putting into their body.
Great for: Those who prefer a sweet, standalone flavour.
Avoid if: You have allergies to the daisy family of plants.
Peppermint tea is known for its ability to settle an upset stomach, but did you know that a cup of hot minty goodness can also help you get to sleep? That’s because peppermint tea is also known to help soothe muscles and nasal congestions, both of which can improve your sleep quality.
Great for: Anyone who enjoys having minty fresh breath.
Avoid if: You have acid reflux or blood pressure issues.
Passionflower tea isn’t just delightful to taste, it is a tried and tested way to put you in the mood for bed. Studies have shown that, like lemon balm, consuming passionflower may also help boosts your brain’s GABA production. In fact, because passionflower is such a popular relaxant, it’s a good idea to only drink it when you’re ready to go to sleep, not in the afternoon or when you need to drive somewhere.
Great for: Those who prefer earthy tastes.
Avoid if: You’re pregnant or take certain medications.
Valerian tea is believed to be one of the most powerful sleep aids around, and its main ingredient - valerian root - can be found in most natural sleep medicines. Valerian root contains two known naturally occurring sedatives: valerenic acid and sesquiterpenes. This bedtime tea is renowned for its effectiveness and unique flavour. If you aren’t a fan of earthy, wooded tones, you may want to add a little honey or steep your valerian tea for a shorter amount of time.
Great for: Those in need of some serious shut eye.
Avoid if: You’re pregnant or using certain medications.
How to choose the best sleep tea for you
Best teas for insomnia
Because lemon balm, passionflower, and chamomile teas are believed to actively engage the brain’s GABA system4,5,6, they are all excellent selections for helping your mind switch off for the day and become relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Best teas for anxiety
Scientists have found that long term use of both chamomile and ashwagandha extracts has been shown to reduce the effects of moderate to severe generalised anxiety disorder and stress.1,2 Regularly drinking low-caffeine green tea has also been linked to reduced stress levels3, however caffeinated teas are not recommended for anyone who has trouble sleeping.
Best teas for sleep
If you’re looking for a tea that won’t just help you get to sleep, but will improve your sleep quality, look no further than valerian root tea. Valerian root can double your sleep quality, without giving you a sleep hangover the next morning.6 Or, if you prefer a gentler tasting tea, consuming lavender has also been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the number of times you wake up during the night.7,8
Incorporating a cup of tea in your nighttime routine is an enjoyable, natural way to get a better night’s rest. And, because there are a variety of ways that teas can affect your body and mind, when one type of sleep tea doesn’t do the trick, there are plenty more to try. So go ahead, pour yourself a cup of self care tonight.
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