For centuries, herbalists have used medicinal herbal teas for helping many people calm down and get to sleep at the end of the day. So, what herbal tea should you drink before bed? In this article, we will detail the best tea for sleep, which includes chamomile tea, valerian tea, lavender tea, lemon balm tea, and passionflower tea.
These bedtime teas benefits may also include fighting stress, insomnia, depression, and anxiety, as well as promoting relaxation, regulating blood sugar, and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure.
We will also look at potential side effects or cons of tea before bed. Let’s get started…
Does Drinking Herbal Tea before Bed Really Help?
Other than water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. In the U.S., 80% of people drink tea, and 50% drink it each day. Caffeinated teas, such as black tea, green tea, white tea, or oolong tea, will keep you up at night. As such, many will drink a herbal tea for sleep instead, due to the characteristic sedative effects that can help prevent insomnia.
At any given time, insomnia affects up to 30% to 50% of the general population. The lack of sleep reduces productivity; lowers libido; suppresses the immune system; and increases the risk of heart disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
The most common insomnia symptoms include difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night; and feeling irritable, exhausted, and stressed.
Many herbal teas contain soothing compounds that can target insomnia. For instance, valerian tea contains a sleep-promoting chemical called linarin. The terpenes in lemon balm are responsible for the sedative properties of this herb. Major compounds in lavender like linalool and linalyl acetate also promote sleep.
As a result, herbal teas like valerian, lemon balm, and lavender can potentially reduce the troublesome symptoms that plague insomniacs on a daily basis.
What Are the Best Teas for Sleep?
It’s true that some herbal teas are better for promoting sleep than others. But finding the best tea for sleep will also depend on your personal needs and tastes. Some of the better teas for sleep include chamomile tea, valerian tea, lavender tea, lemon balm tea, and passionflower tea.
In this section, we will discuss why these teas are so effective for sleep. We will also include recipes for each tea.
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is made from German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). Chamomile tea has long been used to treat insomnia and reduce inflammation, anxiety, and depression. The calming and sleep-promoting effects of chamomile are associated with the antioxidant apigenin, which binds to receptors in your brain that may initiate sleep.
A 2017 study of 60 nursing home residents, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, found that participants who took 400 mg of chamomile extract daily had significantly better sleep quality than those who did not take the herbal remedy.
Another two-week study from 2016 published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that chamomile tea produced better sleep quality in a group of sleep-disturbed postpartum women than regular postpartum care only.
Another study published in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine in 2011 found that 540 mg of chamomile extract daily for 28 days had helped chronic insomniacs fall asleep 15 minutes faster than those who hadn’t received the chamomile extract. At the same time, chamomile led the study participants to wake up fewer times throughout the night.
The following is a chamomile tea recipe for sleep that also includes other health-promoting herbs, such as ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.
- 2 tbsp dried organic chamomile
- 1 to 3 tsp cold-pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk, such as almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- Bring water to a boil in a kettle or pot. Turn off the heat, add the chamomile to the water, and let steep for three to five minutes. Strain and discard the chamomile.
- Stir in plant-based milk, turmeric, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and honey.
- Serve in a mug and enjoy.
2. Valerian Tea
Valerian tea is a sleep aid made from the root of Valeriana officinalis. For centuries, it has been used to treat insomnia, headaches, and nervousness.
How does valerian tea help you sleep? Valerian contains the chemical linarin as well as sesquiterpenes and valepotriates, which all have sedative effects. Also, valerian causes a sedative effect by increasing your brain’s levels of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid).
In addition, the valerenic acid in valerian inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA, and this improves GABA levels to further promote better sleep.
One double-blind study found that valerian root extract improved sleep in 89% of those being examined, and 44% of the participants reported perfect sleep.
Another study of 128 people found that valerian root reduced the time it took for the participants to fall asleep, improved their sleep quality, and led to fewer nighttime awakenings, when compared to people who hadn’t received valerian.
Other research found that 600 mg of dried valerian root daily for 28 days had reduced insomnia symptoms in study participants.
The following is a valerian tea recipe for sleep that includes other health-promoting herbs like oatstraw, catnip, hops, and passionflower.
- 1 tsp or 2 g valerian root
- Infusion mug or tea pot
- A kettle
- Fill the infusion device or teapot with valerian root.
- Heat about eight ounces of water in the kettle, and bring to a boil. Add the boiling water to the infusion device or teapot, and let the tea steep for about 15 minutes.
- Serve in a mug or infusion device and enjoy.
3. Lavender Tea
Lavender tea is made from the flowers of the plant Lavandula angustifolia, which is known for its soothing and aromatic scent. The main sleep-promoting compounds in lavender include linalool and linalyl acetate.
A study published in the journal Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing in 2015 found that daily lavender tea consumption and aromatherapy produced less fatigue in postnatal women with poor sleep quality than regular postnatal care alone.
Another 2015 study of 158 postpartum mothers published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal found that lavender aromatherapy significantly improved sleep quality when compared to controls.
Another study from 2012 examined 67 women with insomnia, and found that lavender reduced heart rate and improved sleep after 20 minutes of inhalation twice weekly for a 12-week period.
Research also shows that lavender reduced anxiety and improved sleep quality in those with anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder.
How do you make lavender tea? Here is a recipe you can try at home.
- 2 cups boiling, filtered water
- 3 tbsp fresh lavender flowers or 1 1/2 tbsp dried lavender flowers
- Lemon slices and honey (optional)
- Put the lavender flowers in an infusion device or infusion teapot. Add the boiling water, and steep for about five minutes.
- Pour into a cup—strain and remove flowers first, if necessary.
- If you want, serve lavender tea with lemon slices and honey.
4. Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea is made from the plant Melissa officinalis, which is a member of the mint family. This citrus-scented herb reduces stress, improves sleep, and treats insomnia and anxiety.
As a natural sleep aid, lemon balm tea reduces symptoms of insomnia, especially during menopause when sleep problems are very common. The terpenes in lemon balm are responsible for this herb’s sedative properties.
A study published in the journal Neurochemical Research in 2011 shows that lemon balm increases GABA levels in mice, and this indicates lemon balm may act like a sedative. Another 2011 study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that 600 mg of lemon balm extract daily for 15 days reduced insomnia symptoms in people by 42%.
As a result, sipping lemon balm tea before bed may help you sleep. The following is a lemon balm tea recipe you can make at home.
- 4 cups boiling, filtered water
- 1 tbsp dried lemon balm or 20 fresh lemon balm leaves
- Bring water to a boil.
- Add the lemon balm to a teapot, and pour over boiled water.
- Cover with a lid, and steep for at least 30 minutes.
- Pour in a cup, and enjoy.
5. Passionflower Tea
Passionflower tea is made from the dried flowers, stems, and leaves of the plant Passiflora incarnata. Traditionally, passionflower tea has treated anxiety and depression, promoted relaxation, and improved sleep. Recent research has found that passionflower tea improves insomnia and sleep quality.
One study of 40 adults published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2011 found that those who consumed passionflower tea daily for a week had reported significantly better sleep quality than those who hadn’t drunk the passionflower tea.
Another study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2013 found that the combination of passionflower, hops, and valerian root was as effective as a common drug used to treat insomnia called “Ambien” (zolpidem tartrate).
How do you make passionflower tea? Here is a calming passionflower tea recipe that also includes chamomile and valerian root to help you sleep at night.
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp dried chamomile
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp dried valerian root
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp dried passionflower
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
- In a saucepan, bring water to a low boil. Turn off the stove, and then add passionflower, valerian root, and chamomile to the water. You can also use a tea infuser or muslin bag.
- Cover with a lid, and let it steep for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the stove, strain if necessary, and pour tea into a cup. If you want, also add some raw honey.
Cons of Drinking Tea before Going to Bed
Scientific and anecdotal evidence indicate that herbal tea promotes sleep and relaxation, and reduces anxiety and depression. However, is there any reason not to drink herbal tea before bed? Some research shows that consumption of tea before bed may increase your risk of iron deficiency since some varieties of tea can affect the absorption of iron.
An iron deficiency can lead to chronic fatigue, low energy, anemia, shortness of breath, pale or yellowing of the skin, an abnormal heartbeat, muscle weakness, changes in appetite, trouble concentrating, mood changes, weight changes, sores on your tongue or mouth, and trouble getting good sleep.
It is also best to consume organic herbal teas to avoid pesticide exposure.
Final Thoughts on Drinking Herbal Tea before Bed
Herbal tea has been treating health conditions for centuries, and has been especially useful for treating insomnia and improving sleep. Herbal tea also benefits sleep by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, herbal tea promotes relaxation, and helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. All of this can help you sleep better.
In this article, we reviewed the best tea for sleep quality. Herbal teas you can drink before bed include chamomile tea, valerian tea, lavender tea, lemon balm tea, and passionflower tea.
Before bed, implement a routine that includes herbal tea, and helps you wind down from a long day. Also, drink your tea in a state of relaxation, such as reading a book or staying warm by the fireplace.
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