Nature has a lot to offer if you are looking for a good night sleep. Insomnia and sleeping disorders are a common side effect of a modern life. However, sleep deprivation can have a bad effect on health, everyday performance and mood in general. A cup of tea before bed might be all you need to fall into the land of dreams easily and stay asleep whole night.
Top bedtime teas
If you are unwilling to take sleep medicine and desperately need a full night of sweet dreams, some herbs may act as mild-tranquilizers and help with falling asleep more easily. Most of them are likely safe if not used in excessive amount and don’t pose a danger even if taken daily.
1. Valerian Root tea
As one of the strongest sleepy time teas, Valerian root tea is one of the best herbal tea choices for treating insomnia. It has a strong distinctive scent, but a mild and pleasant flavor. Traditionally, it has been used both in Europe and U.S. for treating sleep problems and anxiety. Studies suggest Valerian may significantly improve sleep quality, but to get the benefits scientists suggest drinking it daily for at least 28 days. However, other sources suggest it might help immediately. The good side of the valerian root tea is the lack of a drowsy feeling in the morning, usually a side effect of sleeping pills. Valerian is often blended with other herbs such as chamomile or hops, to maximize the sedative and calming effect.
2. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is the traditional herbal remedy for calming and soothing body and mind. It contains flavonoids of which 68% is apigenin, a compound that may have a beneficial effect in treating insomnia and depression.
Chamomile is one of rare teas that is safe for everyone – from children to adults, healthy and unhealthy individuals, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for internal and external use.
3. Lavender tea
Lavender is mostly used in aromatherapy for relaxation and sleeping problems. Scientists showed that lavender may be very beneficial for women that just gave birth. One study showed that a cup of lavender tea taken for 2 weeks was “effective in decreasing fatigue level, improving sleep quality and improving maternal infant attachment of the postnatal mother.” Interestingly, women included in the study were advised not only to drink tea, but to enjoy and appreciate the scent before drinking it too. Indeed, tea time should always be a time to unwind and enjoy the whole process of preparing and drinking tea.
4. Passionflower tea
Passionflower was used by native Americans to treat insomnia, anxiety, hysteria and epilepsy. Just like chamomile, passion flower has the same compounds beneficial for sleep – apigenin and chrysin. Research showed that passionflower may be a good sleep inducer and can be used by people suffering from insomnia or those complaining about problems related to sleep onset.
You can use passionflower pure or in blends as a caffeine-free tea for aiding sleep. It’s likely safe if used in small quantities, two to three times daily and 30 minutes before sleep.
Hops, an ingredient in beer, is used as a sleep aid in the form of tea. Although pure hops tea is available on the market, to maximize the benefits it’s often mixed with other sleep inducing herbs like valerian root. Research showed that hops may help people suffering from insomnia and non-organic sleep disorder.
Keep in mind that drinking beer instead of tea before sleep is not recommended. Alcohol is an enemy of a good night sleep.
Although fennel might be more beneficial for relaxing muscle and aiding digestion rather than helping induce sleep, it’s often a part of many bedtime teas. Together with chamomile it might create a good blend to relax and help you fall asleep faster.
7. Lemon balm
Lemon balm or Melissa is a pleasantly smelling herb you can easily grow by yourself in a pot. Melissa has a sedative effect and may be effective in treating depression, anxiety and sleeping problems. Research shows that 8-week treatment with lemon balm had and significant impact on reduction of depression, anxiety, stress, and total sleep disturbance.
Leaves of lemon balm look very similar to mint, and you can use them raw or dried. A cup of lemon balm tea has a very pleasant lightly minty and sweet flavor. It’s often blended with other sleep inducing herbs to create more potent blends.
5 tips to improve sleep quality
After you decide which tea you want to include into your daily evening routine, improve the quality of sleep further by taking following steps:
Avoid caffeine 6 hours before sleep
Caffeine might have a big effect on the quality of sleep. 68.5% of people drink caffeine in the evening, between 6 PM and midnight, when they should avoid all caffeinated drinks, including tea. Study showed that even 200 mg of caffeine taken 16 hours prior to sleep has a small effect on sleep quality. If even low doses in the morning will have a small, but detectable effect, a large dose right before sleep is highly unrecommendable.
Take herbal teas at least 30 minutes before sleep
Drink herbal tea at least 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. Use that time to unwind and relax and refrain from any heavy mental or physical activity. Keep in mind that most sleepy time teas will not have a strong effect similar to sleeping pills. However, including them into your routine might help you learn how to relax and dedicate time before going to bed to yourself only.
Avoid taking too much tea or other liquids before sleep
Too much tea or water right before sleep might have a bad effect on sleep. Although a cup of herbal sleepy time tea 30-60 minutes before going to bed may help, drinking liters of tea right before sleep will cause sleep disturbance. Avoid all teas with caffeine and alcoholic drinks. They have diuretics properties and will likely disrupt your dreams.
Consult your doctor
Some herbal teas might cause side effects, especially if taken with other medicine. Consult your doctor before including sleepy time tea into your routine. A night of good sleep is not work days of suffering consequences. Be extra careful if you are taking antidepressants or anxiolytics because they may interfere with teas that have sedative properties.
Choose caffeine free relaxing teas in the afternoon
You can improve you sleep not only by choosing teas for sleep but also choosing teas that may help to reduce stress and have calming effects throughout the day. Read what are the top 30 teas for help with stress and reduce anxiety.
Which sleepy time teas have your tried? Did they work?