With the exception of water, tea is the most popular drink in America. Unlike coffee, tea contains less caffeine and can be enjoyed later during the day without affecting your sleep. In fact, for those who struggle to fall asleep at night due to stress, anxiety, or restlessness, a cup of relaxing tea 30 minutes before bed might be the ticket. Specifically, we recommend “sleepy”-type teas. These teas are blends of herbs created to help calm nerves and induce sleep. Finding the right tea that helps you sleep can be part of good sleep hygiene, the process of preparing the body for sleep.
Much like taking a warm bath, a warm cup of tea can not only help settle you for bed but also help cool down your body temperature. These types of teas are also known to reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote better breathing at night. Some teas also help reduce inflammation, easing the aches of sore muscles, and boost mental focus for the following day. The most popular herb found in these types of teas is chamomile, followed by valerian. Both of these herbs are used to treat insomnia, so naturally, they would be a great herbal remedy to induce sleep. Some of the best teas for sleep contain a blend of different herbs in order to promote sleep. Below are some of the main herbs commonly found in sleep tea and their benefits.
Best Types of Sleep Tea
One of the most popular blends is chamomile, a natural sedative that promotes sleep and relaxes the nervous system. It also has antidepressant qualities and helps to alleviate mild to moderate anxiety disorder. When steeped in hot water, if gives off a sweet, floral scent. Additional uses include: reduce stress, treat migraines, and boost immunity.
Stronger than chamomile, valerian is also a natural sedative. It helps to induce sleep and treat anxiety and depression. It can also be used to treat insomnia, hyperactivity, and headaches. Valerian has the added benefit of boosting mental performance. Many people take valerian in place of melatonin supplements. Please note: feeling the full effects of valerian could take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. Also, because it can be addictive and interfere with other medications, make sure to talk with your doctor before taking valerian for sleep.
Lavender is a wonderful relaxant to help promote sleep. Many people who suffer from insomnia due so because of stress and anxiety. Lavender is the perfect solution to help soothe these troubles away. It also provides overall improved sleep, better heart health, improved breathing, and prevents inflammation. Additionally, in one study, it was found to reduce depression and fatigue in postnatal women.
Also known as common balm or balm mint, lemon balm is known to help improve sleep, relieve sore muscles, reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen memory, and protect your heart. It’s been used as far back as the Middle Ages in treating stress, anxiety, and indigestion. It also has a dual use of calming thoughts at night and helping you focus during the day. It works best when combined with other herbs.
On top of improving sleep and reducing stress, passionflower can treat muscle spasms and ease withdrawal symptoms. It’s best known for calming anxious and obsessive thoughts, and soothing indigestion. Further, it can lower blood pressure and relax the nervous system.
Decaf Green Tea
Though it may seem odd, decaffeinated green tea can actually improve sleep. Green tea, in general, provides many health benefits, but decaf green tea contains theanine, a component that’s known to reduce stress and improve sleep. Decaf green tea also soothes indigestion, reduces risk of diabetes, increase cognitive performance, promotes deeper sleep, and may even contain weight loss properties.
Other Sleep Teas
These herbs can be found in many blended teas. Though not as common, they are still used to help reduce stress and induce sleep. Generally, they’re combined with other sleep herbs like lavender and lemon balm.
- St. John’s Wort – stimulates the GABA receptors during REM and helps treat depression
- Catnip – Induces drowsiness
- Spearmint – soothes indigestion and headaches, and acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Magnolia Bark – acting as a mild sedative, this type of bark is used to treat anxiety and calm the nerves
- Linden Leaf/Tilia – used to treat the common cold, the flowers can be used as a mild sedative
- Hops – flowers from this plant relaxes the body and reduces stress
Why Tea Helps
“Sleepy” or “Bedtime” teas are blends of herbs that can help our bodies transition from wakefulness to sleep. Sleep teas are generally caffeine-free in order to relax the body and calm the mind. Each blend is slightly different, focusing on a specific way to help you sleep. For example, some blends, those with chamomile and valerian, have a more sedative effect in inducing sleep. Others that contain lemon balm and lavender, help to reduce stress and calm the nervous system. Then, there are those that contain catnip or spearmint that help calm indigestion and allow the body to relax.
These types of teas are traditionally herbal, since other types of teas, like black, white, and green, are more for daytime activities with added caffeine to increase wakefulness. Many of the herbs found in sleep tea are used as natural remedies for ailments such as depression, insomnia, and epilepsy. Drinking these teas may be more pleasant when honey and/or milk is added since many of these natural herbs are bitter tasting even when steeped in hot water. Many find it more enjoyable and relaxing in taking these herbs in tea-form, rather than swallowing an herbal supplement. There’s something calming about herbs steeped in hot water with honey that leaves a pleasant experience, instead of swallowing some pills with a glass of cold water.
Before bed, we recommend a cup of “sleepy” tea. This type of tea is made of a blend of herbs commonly found in sleep supplements. To help calm the nerves and smoothly transition to sleep, sleep teas come in a variety of different blends, all to help promote sleep. These blends can include the following: chamomile, valerian, lemon balm, lavender, passionflower, and decaf green. According to Web MD, herbs such as chamomile and valerian are natural sleep aids. The herbs contained in these blends also have added health benefits such as reduce inflammation, boost heart health, and treat headaches. While some blends focus on producing sleep, others center on reducing stress and calming anxiety. Please note that if you are pregnant or suffer from allergies, be sure to speak with your doctor before drinking any type of sleep tea to avoid negative effects. It’s important to note that drinking sleep tea is not the only way to have a good night’s rest. Practice good sleep hygiene, by staying away from electronics and sleep in a dark room. By following good sleep practices with a cup of sleep tea, your slumber will be that much more restful.