The best teas to help you sleep are those teas that contain little to no caffeine as well as compounds that are scientifically proven to help you relax and get to sleep.
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is one of the best things we can do for our physical and emotional health. Numerous studies suggest that a lack of sleep affects our mood, judgment, interpretations of events, and even our abilities to create memories.
Unfortunately, most people have or will suffer at least a bout or two of insomnia during their lifetimes. And even if you are one of those blessed people who fall asleep the minute your head touches the pillow, it is still nice to drink something that will calm and relax you before you head to bed.
Though luckily, my days of severe insomnia are (hopefully) behind me, I am still the type of person who tosses and turns for a while, going over my day in my head, and worrying about things I can’t change, before I am able to fall asleep. So with that in mind, I went looking for the best teas to help you sleep.
I found that the best teas contained ingredients that have long traditions of helping you sleep, and have also been scientifically tested.
These are they.
It’s always good to start with the classics. Chamomile, made from the dried flowers of the chamomile plant, has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. Studies have found that chamomile is effective as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, and indeed improves sleep quality. Part of the reason for this is that it contains a flavonoid called apigenin which has been shown to lower anxiety and, in very large doses, trigger a sedative-like effect, in addition to a number of other therapeutic traits.
Chamomile is delicious on its own. It has a very mild sweetness to it that goes well with honey. Some great plain chamomile teas are Yogi Comforting Chamomile and The Tea Company’s Loose Leaf Organic Chamomile Tea.
Chamomile is also often found as a main ingredient in many of the “sleepytime” blends we have all encountered, from the classic Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea, of the iconic bear box, to The Art of Tea’s Sleep Tea, and Buddha Tea’s CBD Sleepy Buddha Blend.
Valerian Root Tea
Valerian is an herb that is native to Europe and parts of Asia, and its root has been used as a sedative since ancient times. Numerous studies have been done on valerian root have shown that it improves sleep quality. The sedative effect of valerian is due to two substances it contains: valepotriates and sesquiterpenes. These, and other compounds in valerian root interact with GABA receptors- neurotransmitters that help regulate sleep patterns, among other things. In addition there is some evidence to suggest that valepotriates, another compound found in the root, have some anti-anxiety and antidepressant qualities.
On its own, valerian doesn’t taste very good, however, like chamomile, it is often found in many of the “night time” blends we know and love such as The Art of Tea’s Sleep Tea, and Buddha Tea’s CBD Sleepy Buddha Blend, both mentioned above, as well as Traditional Medicinals’ Nighty Nighty Extra Tea, and Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Extra Tea.
It should be noted that among some people valerian root has the opposite effect than intended, causing excitability, uneasiness, or even insomnia. Some people have also reported feeling drowsy in the morning after having taken valerian root, while others report dry mouth and/or vivid dreams.
People who are pregnant or nursing should not take valerian, as it has not been tested for safety during pregnancy or nursing.
Like chamomile and valerian, passionfruit tea, made from the dried flowers and leaves of the passionfruit plant, has a long history of being used as a sleep aid. Scientific studies have found that passionfruit tea may improve sleep quality, and may have anti-anxiety properties as well. Just like valerian root, passionfruit works by interacting with GABA neurotransmitters. In addition, there is some evidence that a mix of herbs, including passionfruit, are as efficacious as a traditional insomnia medication in helping people sleep.
Due to its fruity and tropical flavor passionfruit can be found as a tisane of its own, mostly as an iced tea, such as Twining’s Passionfruit Iced Tea. However, as a sleep aid, it is often used together with a mix of other herbs to make up a pleasant night time tea blend. It can be found in teas such as The Art of Tea’s Sleep Tea, Gaia’s Sleep and Relax Tea, as well as Traditional Medicinals’ Nighty Night Tea.
Lavender tea is made from the purple and fragrant flower of the lavender plant. It has long been used in aromatherapy to ease anxiety and help people sleep. As a tea, some studies have pointed to its efficacy in easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the elderly, as well as depression and sleeplessness in postnatal women. However, it should be noted, that even when used in aromatherapy it has been found that lavender only works in the short term and is not as useful when used long term.
Lavender has a light and slightly sweet flowery flavor. Many people find its scent and taste relaxing and soothing. Others, however, may find that its flavor just reminds them of scented soap. If you do enjoy the taste and scent, lavender teas, such as Buddha Teas’ Lavender Tea, are delightful. It is also featured in a number of blends. Some of them are “sleepy” blends, such at the Art of Teas’ Lavender Chamomile Rose Blend, Homestead Apothecary’s Dream Time, or Artful Teas’ Lavender Lullaby while others just taste good, such the Art of Teas’ Tuscany Tea or London Tea (note: London Tea contains caffeine).
Other Beneficial Teas
Other teas that may help you sleep are magnolia bark tea, which can be drunk on its own or as part of a blend, such as Traditional Medicinals’ Nighty Night blend, mentioned above. Likewise, peppermint tea contains menthol which relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, making it easier to wind down after a big meal. It’s also just a nice and relaxing flavor to savor before you head to bed. Additionally, low caffeine green tea has many known health benefits, and there have been small studies that indicate that it helps with sleep as well.
What to Look For in Sleep Aid Tea?
First and foremost you should look for a tea that tastes good to you, and that you find soothing and relaxing. Try and find a tea that puts you in a calm mood and that doesn’t make you feel groggy or disoriented.
You can experiment with one or more of the teas and tea blends mentioned above and see what works for you. Obviously, ingredients that have been scientifically tested will do you more good than those that haven’t, so it’s best to start with them. But so much of what makes us feel calm and restful also has to do with sense memories, so which tea works for you when you can’t sleep is going to be highly personal.
Finally, if you find that your insomnia persists and is interfering with your quality of life, have a talk with your doctor to see if there is something they can do to help.