Chamomile Tea for Sleep: Why Should You Take It before Bed?

Chamomile tea for sleep

Chamomile is a type of herbal tea often associated with treating anxiety and insomnia. It is well-known as a sedative, and its calming effects can help our body relax and get a sound sleep.

It is also used in many traditional medicines and home remedies. And some research studies even support its effectiveness.

How Does Chamomile Tea Make You Sleepy?

Chamomile tea is made in its herbal form as a gentle sleep aid. The flower of the chamomile plant is used to make this herbal remedy. It is especially critical that the flowers are dried at the right temperature.

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Dried flowers are added to hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes, covering the pulp. The mixture is covered immediately so that the essential oils do not evaporate.These essential and volatile oils may also be lost due to dry heat.

When the tea is ready to be served, the pulp is squeezed into the mixture. This last step breaks the cell walls of the plant to release even more of the sedative oils into the solution.

Chamomile tea is herbal and completely free of caffeine. It is considered a sleep inducer, contrary to normal tea or coffee, which are not considered ideal beverages to consume before bed.

However, you should also know the side effects of chamomile to fully understand its negative impact on health along with its benefits.

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Chamomile Tea for Sleep: What the Studies Say

Various studies have been done to investigate the effects of chamomile in improving mood, promoting sleep, and relieving anxiety. Although the effects seen are distinct, the exact mechanism by which these results are obtained is still under question.

A study published in 2011 in European Neuropsychopharmacology shows that the phytochemicals in chamomile cause three main effects on the central nervous system, which are known to be helpful in relieving anxiety and inducing sleep.

1. Regulates neurotransmitter transmission to the brain

The active phytochemicals in chamomile are known to affect the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Monoamine transmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are associated with sleep and mood. Chamomile has a positive effect on these to improve sleep, enhance mood, and relieve depression.

2. Binds to GABA receptors

One of the major inhibitory neurotransmitters in our central nervous system is GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). The overall function of GABA in the brain is to promote calmness and induce sleep.

The phytochemicals in chamomile, such as chrysin, bind with the GABA receptors. This helps reduce brain activity, resulting in an overall calming effect on the central nervous system.

However, the dosage needs to be monitored properly as large quantities can produce sedation.

3. Influences neurohormones

In addition to neurotransmitters, neurohormones are also responsible for inducing sleep. The most important neurohormone involved in inducing sleep is melatonin.

Melatonin is released as a response to darkness by the pineal gland and helps us regulate our wake-sleep cycle. If this hormone is not produced in sufficient quantities, it results in insomnia and sleep disorders.

Chamomile benefits the neurohormones in this case by helping to maintain the sleep-wake cycle.

Side Effects of Chamomile

For those who are allergic to daisies, this flower is from the same family, so chamomile tea should be avoided. Being a herbal depressant, it can cause excessive drowsiness in some, especially when combined with the effects of alcohol or that of other sedative medication.

Additionally, the chemicals in chamomile are known to act as anticoagulants, interfering with blood clotting. So, those on blood thinners like aspirin or warfarin should definitely avoid chamomile tea or any other product that has chamomile as the key ingredient.

A study conducted in the Middle East indicates a high risk of miscarriage or preterm labor upon consuming chamomile tea. So, chamomile is also not recommended during pregnancy. Mothers who are breastfeeding are also advised not to drink chamomile tea as the depressant effects may pass on to the newborn and may cause medical complications.

Since chamomile also has a sedative effect, it should not be consumed alongside anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs that help with insomnia.

In conclusion, chamomile, a daisy-like flower that can be dried at a specific temperature and brewed into a tea. It is a common herbal medicine that has been used for centuries by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

Chamomile tea has numerous health benefits. It helps to relieve stomach cramps, menstrual disorders, muscular spasms, and more.

In the case of certain health conditions and allergies, it is advised to consult a medical practitioner before this herb is ingested. This will avoid any interactions with medicines or unwanted side effects.


Sources:

Srivastava, J., et al., “Chamomile: A Herbal medicine of the past with bright future,” Molecular Medicine Reports, November 1, 2010; 3(6): 895-901. DOI: 10.3892/mmr.2010.377, last accessed August 29, 2017.

“Can this tea help with insomnia and anxiety? Find out…,” Progressive Health; http://www.progressivehealth.com/drinking-chamomile-tea-may-help-anxiety-and-insomn.htm, last accessed August 29, 2017.

Aufiero, B., “The Side Effects of Sleepytime Tea,” LIVESTRONG, August 16, 2013; http://www.livestrong.com/article/336160-the-side-effects-of-sleepytime-tea/, last accessed August 29, 2017

Elizabeth, L., “Side Effects & Benefits of Chamomile Tea,” azcentral; http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/side-effects-benefits-chamomile-tea-16280.html, last accessed August 29, 2017.

John, L.J., et al., “Herbal Medicines Use During Pregnancy: A Review from the Middle East,” Oman Medical Journal, July 2015; 30(4): 229-236. DOI: 10.5001/omj.2015.48, last accessed August 29, 2017.