A nationwide study done by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that roughly 60 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep issue. While it isn’t always clear how these issues develop, it is clear that many people are probably searching for ways to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Stress can be a common factor for sleeplessness, with the inability to relax after a long day making it difficult to get into a calm mindset before bed. Rather than relying purely on pharmaceutical or over-the-counter sleep aids, some have found relief with drinking tea.
Tea drinking has been a source for relaxation for millennia, and has long since been a popular way of relaxing and calming the body. Majority of people that has walked down the tea aisle of their local grocery store have seen a plethora of varieties, including “sleepytime” or “bedtime” blends. While these can work, a little knowledge on what teas work best for sleep is very useful as not blends are as effective as they seem.
Here are the top five teas for sleep, along with which brands reign supreme.
First up is chamomile, easily one of the best known herbal teas for sleep. It can be found solo as a tea, and is often one of the top ingredients in any type of sleep tea blend.
Chamomile is a medicinal herb that has been used for a number of ailments and disorders. There are actually two types of chamomile, German and Roman, though the flowers of both sleep to be equally effective. The flavonoids and terpenoids in the dried Chamomile flowers are the two properties responsible for its positive effects on the human body. The primary flavonoid responsible for sleep induction is apigenin. Studies have shown that chamomile has a nearly hypnotic, relaxation effect on the brain. Along with a plethora of other health benefits, chamomile is somewhat of a no-brainer when it comes to tea for sleep. It tastes very mildly and also tastes great when combined with other herbal teas featured.
A recommended brand is Yogi Tea Comforting Chamomile. This brand is easily found in most stores and is one of few that is made of pure chamomile. One tea bag has 1,500mg of organic dried chamomile flowers. You’ll find that this is plenty to get you feeling calmer and better ready for bedtime after a long day.
Coming in at number two is lavender. This immediately recognizable aromatic herb is often used in aromatherapy for sleep but some don’t realize ingesting it can have similar effects. However, lavender tea may be a bit powerful for those that don’t already enjoy its scent.
Similarly to lemon balm, typically lavender tea is found as an herbal blend and in many ways it’s best to consume this tea this way versus a pure lavender tea. Interestingly enough, it isn’t quite clear if it’s the scent of lavender or the ingestion of it that makes it so effective in tea. Nonetheless, teas including this flower are very effective for sleep, especially when sipped slowly to really enjoy its aromatic properties.
A recommended brand is Teavana Lavender Dreams White Tea. This blend features lavender, rose bud, and peach flavor. It is very relaxing and offers a different experience for your tastebuds compared to most lavender blends.
Lemon balm comes in at number three in terms of popularity as an herbal tea for sleep. Also called Melissa, in reference to its latin name of Melissa officinalis, this herb is actually a type of mint. While mint makes you think of something fresh and even energizing, lemon balm actually has a sedating effect. Lemon balm is often found in blends with chamomile, as the pair of them taste and work wonderfully together. There haven’t been many studies on lemon balm alone, but in studies with other herbs it’s clear it has an important role.
Aside from helping you to relax and make falling asleep easier, lemon balm also has a positive effect on mood. A cup of lemon balm tea will ease your mind and uplift your spirits. Combined with a sedating effect, this herb can help to put you in a good place mentally and physically before bed.
A recommended brand is Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemon Balm. This tea smells amazing, is priced perfectly, and is made of USDA organic lemon balm leaves.
Passionflower actually encompasses a huge range of different species, with the Passiflora incarnata being the most effective for anxiety and insomnia.
The passionflower helps with sleep by reducing symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness. This allows for an easier transition into sleep. The taste of it is wonderful and fruity in nature. In fact, you may recognize it’s name in natural juice or energy drink beverages. If you only have minor sleep concerns and don’t like the typical flavor of herbal teas, this one could be a perfect fit.
Studies have found that passionflower extract can interfere negatively with sedative medications. While drinking a tea with passionflower likely will not cause an ill-effect, you should consult your doctor if you’re on sleep medication or if you want to try an extract as it could have a very strong effect. The average person drinking tea can enjoy a cup during the evening without an issue.
A recommended brand is Buddha Teas Passion Flower Tea. This tea is made of pure organic passionflower dried flowers. Similarly to the many herbs/flowers for tea, the taste combines well with others like chamomile and lemon balm.
Kava Kava isn’t as well known as the others featured but a growing number of people have turned to this drink for overall relaxation, anxiety control, and sleep. Rather than being a dried herb, the drink is made from the kava kava roots. Traditionally this plant is used as a ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands, where it’s consumed much like an alcoholic beverage. However, this drink can certainly be used as a tea for therapeutic reasons.
Drinking kava is best for those that are suffering from poor sleep due to anxiety, and haven’t found relief from other teas. Since it is still fairly new to modern medicine and homeopathy, it is also advised to consult your doctor if you plan on drinking this regularly.
A recommended brand for kava kava is Celebration Herbals Kava Kava blend, which combines kava root with other herbs for relaxation and sleep. You can purchase pure kava kava root powder to mix your own drink/tea, but be careful as it can be quite powerful on its own. While not as convenient as the others featured, kava kava might be the secret to easing your insomnia.
Drinking tea may not be a magic pill for sleep concerns, but they certainly have their place as a relaxation tool for your night time routine. For some drinking a sleep tea is all they need to get lulled into slumber while others may have to use an additional sleep aid, rather relying on tea to help with stress-reduction. If you do suffer from a sleep disorder that is affecting your life, be sure to contact your doctor for help as consistent poor sleep can lead to negative health effects.