Tea has become almost synonymous with self-care. A hot cup of tea is a delightful element of many relaxing affairs like a trip to the spa or an evening at home with a great book. Tea soothes the mind, body, and soul and has been used as a medicinal and spiritual practice for thousands of years.
For a quality night’s rest, sleep experts recommend engaging in relaxing practices before laying your head on your buckwheat pillow for the night. This can include meditation, yoga, reading a book, or drinking a cup of herbal tea. The benefits of drinking tea for sleep are two-fold. It’s a natural sleep aid that preps your mind and body for sleep and is a tranquil act.
The physical act of drinking tea – holding the warm beverage in your hands, feeling the warm liquid run down your throat, smelling the sweet herbal notes – has undeniable soothing vibes. It also has an effect on your body’s chemistry and function. Certain tea ingredients, like chamomile or valerian root, among others, can act as a sedative and make you feel sleepy.
The History of Drinking Tea to Sleep Better
My 95 year old grandmother drinks tea before bed every single night – and yours may too! The practice of drinking tea has been passed down from generation to generation. Tea has been grown for consumption for over 2100 years, originating in Southeast Asia and China. Chamomile tea is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs we know of and was used by the Egyptians and Ancient Romans as a tea to treat insomnia, sleep troubles, or a cold.
Ancient Chinese Medicine used many herbs boiled in hot water to treat various illnesses and ailments, including sleep disorders. Not only was it beneficial to drink these beverages, but many were to be inhaled as well, taking in the sweet herbal aromas for additional calming effects. In addition to chamomile, herbs like Ashwagandha, lemon balm, passion flower, valerian root, and wolfberry (goji) have been used to make teas that help people sleep better.
Like many other natural remedies, our ancient ancestors knew what they were doing. Modern-day research and scientific studies have proven the sleepy symptoms of tea to be very real.
The Science Behind Herbal Teas for Sleep
Various sleep-inducing tea ingredients affect your body differently. Chamomile can be considered a mild tranquilizer because of a specific antioxidant it contains. This antioxidant, apigenin, binds to brain receptors that in turn decrease anxiety, calms, and initiates sleep.
Chamomile is rich in terpenoids and flavonoids, which also give it its medicinal characteristics.
A study conducted in 2013 gave residents in 60 different nursing homes 400 mg of chamomile each day for 28 consecutive days. The control group received a placebo, and their sleep was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The results showed that sleep quality was significantly better for those who had chamomile versus those who did not.
Another study conducted in 2015 gave post-partum women chamomile tea for a 2-week period. When compared to women who did not drink tea, the researchers discovered that those who drank chamomile tea had an overall better night’s sleep.
Chamomile isn’t the only natural sleep aid researchers have looked at. Tea for sleep may also contain lemon balm, which has a soothing effect on your body. Research has demonstrated that when drinking or taking lemon balm as a supplement, it impacts GABA levels which have a sleep-inducing, relaxing effect. A small 2011 study gave participants 600 mg of lemon balm extract for 15 days. Those taking lemon balm saw a 42% reduction in insomnia symptoms. Sipping a tea containing lemon balm can help those with chronic sleep issues and is found in many popular sleepy-tea blends.
Passion flower is another herbal tea ingredient that can help you have a more restful sleep on your millet hulls pillow. Passion flower tea contains the dried flowers, stems, and leaves of the plant and has a long history in natural sleep aids. A recent study gave 40 healthy adults passion flower tea before bed, every night, for one week. At the end of the week, researchers compared their sleep quality to those who did not drink the tea. The study concluded that those who consumed the tea had significantly better sleep.
Valerian root may not be as widely known, but it is just as effective for sleep. It has earned itself the name “nature’s Valium” because it provides a tranquil feeling that aids in sleep. Valerian has been used in traditional medicine for over 2000 years and is grown in various parts of the world. Now, it is commonly consumed in a capsule or as a tea. It works by interacting with GABA (similar to chamomile), which regulates the nerve impulses from your nervous system. Research has discovered that valerianic acid inhibits the breakdown of GABA, which provides calm feelings. The benefits not only aid with sleep but maintains levels of serotonin to balance moods.
In one study, researchers gave young to middle-aged adults with sleep disorders 400 mg of valerian root. The results showed that valerian had a positive effect on sleep quality, with 24 of these individuals saying they experienced an improvement in their sleep and 12 reporting “perfect sleep” – that’s an impressive result!
After seeing plenty of “sleep teas” lining the shelves of your local supermarket, you may have been skeptical. But rest assured, there is truth behind the sleep inducing effects of tea. Like the ones mentioned in this post, certain tea ingredients modify certain neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep and create a calming effect. These effects are further enhanced when you drink the right amount at the right time.
Tea and Bedtime Rituals
Sleep experts, scientists, and those who struggle with sleep all believe in the importance of bedtime rituals. Having a bedtime ritual or routine tells your body it’s time for bed so that it starts preparing for sleep. This way, by the time your head hits your buckwheat hulls pillow, you are ready for sleep and will spend the night having sweet dreams.
If you want to crawl under your crisp, soft sheets, lay your head on your comfortable millet hulls pillow, and peacefully drift off to sleep, you need to have a solid bedtime routine. When you are busy rushing around, finishing off last-minute items on your to-do list, or sending emails from bed, your mind, body, and circadian rhythm become confused, thinking it is time to be up and alert. This is why you will then find yourself tossing and turning on your buckwheat hulls pillow when it is finally time to go to sleep.
When establishing your bedtime rituals, choose soothing activities that don’t involve the blue light from your laptop, phone, iPad, or television. Avoid mentally stimulating tasks like writing down to-do lists, organizing papers, or brain teasers. A steeped herbal tea is comforting and calming, a great element to add to your routine. The fragrant notes of chamomile and the warm feeling of the mug will help get your mind and body into the desired state of calm.
Just remember, when drinking tea, you need to ensure it is caffeine-free. If you opt for a black tea like early grey, English breakfast, orange pekoe, or green tea, you will likely have difficulty sleeping. It is recommended to stop drinking caffeine before 12 pm; otherwise, it could negatively affect your sleep.
Look for a tea blend containing sleep-inducing ingredients like chamomile, lemon balm, and passion flower, or drink them individually. These teas are considered natural sleep aids and will help you enjoy a better quality of sleep.
Although there hasn’t been too much research done on the best time to drink tea before bed, many suggest that you should drink a small cup about 45 mins before you hope to fall asleep. This will allow your body to metabolize the tea and benefit from the sedative effects. If you feel inclined to drink lots of tea to become extra sleepy – you should resist. Drinking too much could keep you up and running to the washroom all night. One cup is enough to aid with sleep.
If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea (pun intended), you can receive many of these benefits by taking these herbs in a supplement. In one pill, you can enjoy the calming and mild sedative effects. Our natural sleep aid is made in the USA with superior quality ingredients like valerian, lemon balm, goji (wolfberry), chamomile, passion flower, l-tryptophan, Ashwagandha, melatonin, and more.
With so many of us struggling from occasional episodes of restlessness and sleep troubles, a natural sleep aid like tea is a welcome relief. As nightfall approaches, start to settle into your bedtime tea ritual. Turn the temperature in your bedroom down, dim the lights, and put on the kettle. Within an hour of drinking your tea, you should be fast asleep on your millet hulls pillow.