Tea That Helps You Sleep: The Best Bedtime Drinks

sleep teaIf you’re looking for a bedtime tea which both tastes good and helps you sleep, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

The bad news is that there isn’t a huge amount of scientific evidence that any kind of tea can really help you get to sleep.

The good news is that the lack of evidence may be due to a lack research rather than a lack of effectiveness.

In this article I’ll be taking a look at some of the most popular types of nighttime tea, and checking out which herbs, flowers and plants go into them.

And I’ll also explore why it is that even though some research says that tea doesn’t help, millions of people say it does.

And that includes me!



Part 1: Can tea really help you sleep or is it all in the mind?

Part 2: The herbs, flowers, plants and roots that may help you relax and sleep.

Part 3: The best bedtime teas.


What’s your opinion?


Do you believe that some teas can help you sleep?

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Part 1: Can tea really help you sleep?

Why do you drink tea before bedtime? Maybe you find it relaxing, or you simply like the taste. Perhaps you truly believe it can help you fall asleep.

If you like the taste and find it relaxing to sit down with your favorite bedtime tea, then that’s perhaps the only thing that really matters.

The only real problem lies in the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of tea as a sedative; a large piece of research in 2012 found that there’s little evidence that herbal teas actually help you sleep.

However, when I was writing about natural remedies for sleep, I came to 2 conclusions:

  • Just because there isn’t much research, doesn’t mean a bedtime tea won’t help.
  • It could be that simply taking the time to enjoy a cup of tea is relaxing in itself.

For me, drinking herbal tea is a part of my bedtime ritual; sitting down to drink it helps me unwind and relax after a long day.

Whether there’s evidence or not, millions of people believe in the power of a nice cup of tea to help you sleep. Myself included.


Part 2: The plants and herbs that help you sleep


1. Chamomile

Chamomile is of course the superstar of night time teas. There’s precious little evidence that it has any sedative effects, yet millions of people continue to drink it before going to bed.

You can easily make it yourself by drying out the flowers and brewing them. And it’s also found in most brands of bedtime tea.

chamomile tea flowers

2. Valerian

Valerian is one of the few herbs which have actually been found by researchers to have sedative properties. It’s been used for centuries to help with sleep and also anxiety. Made from the root of the flower, it may take a couple of weeks of regular drinking before taking effect.

valerian tea flower


3. Lavender

Whilst Chamomile and Valerian reign supreme in the bedtime tea category, they aren’t alone. Another plant sometimes put into the mix is Lavender, which is thought to have relaxing and anti-stress properties.


purple lavender tea flowers


4. Lemon balm

Lemon balm also cropped up in the study reporting a lack of evidence for natural remedies and teas that help you sleep. However, it’s still popularly believed to aid relaxation, and for this reason is often included in brands of teas for sleep.


lemon balm plant

5. St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort is most commonly used as a natural anti-depressant, but has also been found to help with anxiety. Since worry and stress are common reasons why people suffer from insomnia, it could be that it can help promote sleep by reducing the nightly worries.

It does come with some warnings though, so before you go out harvesting the plant, make sure it’s safe for you to use.

st john's wort flower

6. Peppermint

Peppermint is more often associated with providing energy and helping stomach problems. However, it is sometimes included in bedtime tea.

It’s thought to help calm your internal systems, and with that your mind. It may be particularly useful if you’ve over-indulged and your tummy is keeping you awake!

peppermint tea flowers

7. Kava Kava

I was hesitant to include Kava Kava on the list because of the various dangers it can pose. However, it’s still a valid plant used for insomnia. You just need to be slightly cautious if you’re thinking of using it. Do further research and check it won’t pose a problem considering your current health.

kava kava plant

8. Chinese herbs

Chinese medicine is a complex world. The philosophy tends to be more that you need to have a combination of herbs created specifically for you. Not so much that they create a magic potion that works for everyone.

That said, there are some herbs typically used to help promote sleep:

  • Sour Date Seed
  • Poria Paradicis
  • Arborvitae Seed
  • Schizandra Fruit

And there are some formulas created to reflect the kind of sleep problems you might have. They tend to be connected to a body part as well. For example, problems falling asleep may be connected to the heart. And so Chinese medicine would look at ways to restore balance to that organ.


Part 3: The best bedtime teas

Nowadays there’s a great choice of ready-made herbal teas, but some brands have lasted the test of time. Here are three which prove ever popular with millions of people around the world, and are also my personal favorites.


Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime TeaCelestical Seasonings Sleepytime continues to be the most popular brand of tea for sleep in the United Sates. It’s also now very well known in Great Britain and many other countries.

It’s been my personal favorite night-time tea for a long time now, as I find it has a delicious taste and definitely helps me unwind at the end of a long day.

It also has the added benefit of being soothing on the tummy. So when I’ve eaten a little too much for dinner (or been at the chocolate brownies again…), this is the tea to calm both the body and mind.

Sleepytime tea contains the following ingredients:

  • Chamomile
  • Spearmint
  • Lemon Grass
  • Tilia Flowers
  • Blackberry Leaves
  • Orange Blossoms
  • Hawthorn Berries
  • Rosebuds

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Bigelow Sweet Dreams

Bigelow Sweet Dreams Herbal TeaBigelow Sweet Dreams has some extra minty pizazz to accompany the usual chamomile that you’ll find in most night-time teas. It’s another of my favorites, especially as I’m a mint lover.

The inclusion of two types of mint fuse together to create a lovely aroma, and like the Sleepytime tea can help calm a poorly stomach.

If you’re as much of a mint fanatic as I am, then this is one to try at least once.

The ingredients of Sweet Dreams are:

  • Chamomile
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Rose Blossoms
  • Spices
  • Orange blossoms

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Yogi Bedtime Tea

yogi bedtime teaYogi Bedtime Tea is just one of many excellent teas that Yogi make – they have several others which can help with stress relief and relaxation. For example, they are one of the few companies to make a Kava tea.

I find it a relaxing drink, which isn’t surprising considering the quantity of ingredients which are known to help promote calmness. Do note that it includes St. John’s Wort though, so you need to be sure it’s safe for you to use.

It’s also the only tea which includes just about every plant on the list in part 2 of this article.

The ingredients of Yogi Bedtime tea are:

  • Chamomile Flower
  • Valerian
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Lavender
  • Skullcap Leaf
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Rose Hip
  • Raspberry Leaf
  • Stevia Leaf
  • Passion Flower
  • Licorice Root
  • Spearmint

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Which teas do you drink?

So there you have my view on tea that helps you sleep, and some suggestions of good ones to try. Now it’s over to you to talk about the teas you like. Do you make your own? Do you have a favorite brand? Feel free to share your views below.


144 Responses to “Tea That Helps You Sleep: The Best Bedtime Drinks”

  1. Greg says:

    I started on Sleepy Time to help me sleep at night. Melotonin gave me nightmares. Sometimes I’ll take a mild antihistamine with it. Heck dries me up.
    I’ve started mixing my tea, the red tea with sleepytime and chai white tea. Taste pretty good. I make it dark strong in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Might try that Kava or Purple sage if you think it’ll help more. Plus a little honey.

  2. Greg says:

    I’ve drank tea, hot or cold, for a long time. Used to be with milk and sugar, when I was young, then started leaving out the milk and switched to honey. I also use Celestial Seasonings Sleepy time tea, I also add a sack of chai white tea (stash premium) and a sack of (private select) Rooibos Red Tea. I cook them in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. I run it several time until the tea very dark then I add the honey. I’ve tried the yogi before but it wasn’t the Bedtime. I’ll have to try it as well since I sleep short intervals, the tea helps with the antihistamine :)

  3. Lori says:

    I love love love the Celestial SleeptTime Extra, how many cups of it can you have per night?

  4. Dean says:

    So I found out that purple sage (cenizo) was used once upon a time for colic because it’s a sedative. Didn’t believe it, tried it, it definitely works. My body went a little numb. I’ve had purple sage growing in my yard for years and never knew I could use it.

    • Hi Dean

      Thanks for your comment. Have you done some research into purple sage? As I understand it, it does have sedative properties but also carries several potential warnings against poisoning.

  5. kelly says:

    I drank yogi bedtime caramel last night for the 1st time…I slept 11 hrs…def not typical for me. That aside, I definitely had very vivid dreams and the most concerning was I woke up all night with a tightness in my throat. It is still present this morning and I truly believe it is an allergic reaction to something in the tea. An anaphylactic type reaction. Due to this I will not be having the tea again but I was wondering if anyone else had this happen or knows of it happening with either this tea or any of the ingredients in it?? Thanks

    • Hi Kelly

      Sorry to hear you had that reaction. It’d feasible that it was due to one of the many ingredients it contains. Definitely don’t drink it again until you know for sure. I’d speak to your doctor about this and see if you can get an allergy test done.

  6. Lisa says:

    I drink Sweet Dreams chamomile tea, and peppermint tea from my back yard, but I didn’t know if they could ACTUALLY help you sleep, or if it was just me, but every time I drink ANY type of tea, I get sleepy-er. It’s very helpful when I can’t fall asleep.

    • Hi Lisa

      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, my opinion is that they help many people through a combination of the placebo effect and also just the very act of preparing a tea and sitting down to relax and drink it is in itself an important calming ritual. Whether they contain enough sedative ingredients is difficult to say. But it boils down to this: if it works for you, then that’s all that matters.

  7. Cathy says:

    Hi every night and in the morningI drink a cup of Tazo tea . I also am outside for at least an hour everyday . I feel great and never get sick! It also relaxes me , the only strange thing is … I have very vivid dreams? Other then that I have never slept or felt better. I’m 55 and went through menopause at 47 . I never had any problem only with nervousness and anxiety . That’s why I started drinking tea. Thanks so much for your great information!!

    • Hi Cathy
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Have you tried not drinking the tea for a couple of weeks to see if you stop having the vivid dreams, and then drinking it again as an experiment?

  8. John says:

    Another two very good choices are:
    – Sleepytime Extra – the extra being Valerian (which is not in regular Sleepytime)
    – Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night VALERIAN – with both Valerian & Passionflower

    Passionflower is another plant frequently used to aid with sleep.

  9. Jackie says:

    I suffer from insomnia and also have cardio-vascular disease. I tried a tea that contained Valerian which is supposed to be helpful but in the middle of the night I had a mild attack of angina. I have since read that Valerian should not be taken by anyone with heart problems.
    Hibiscus tea, taken in moderation, seems to help a bit.

    • Hi Jackie
      Sorry to hear you’ve had heart problems. I’ve also read that Valerian is sometimes used to treat some heart conditions. But the most important point I’ve read is that if you have any heart condition, it’s best to consult your medical practitioner before taking it. Did you ask your doctor if they though the tea could have been responsible for the angina attack?

  10. //////, says:

    I like cows

  11. Dave says:

    Herbal tea helps me sleep because at bedtime I drink it instead of coffee. Its effectiveness is pretty much guaranteed in this context.

  12. Leah says:

    Thanks for this interesting article. I’ll definitely be trying the teas you suggest.

  13. Kathy Robinson says:

    ?How early should you drink sleepy time herbal tea before bedtime?

    • Hi Kathy,
      That’s a good question, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure of an exact time! I tend to drink a herbal tea about an hour to half an hour before bed so I’m not getting up to go to the toilet just after getting into bed!

  14. nathaly says:

    ‘happy nights’ makes me relax and fall asleep nice and good at the nights

    • Kyle says:

      Yes! Happy Nights tea by Carmencita is the real deal. I use only use it about 3 times per week so I don’t become immune to it. Two teabags steeped for about 30 minutes and consumed about an hour before I want to be asleep. I take 5 mgs of melatonin with this and the combination has me falling asleep and staying asleep at least 8-9 hours. The melatonin puts me to sleep and the Happy Nights tea keeps me asleep. It’s hard to find in my town. I have to go to the Latino grocery store to get it. It’s cheap. They charge $1.49 for 10 teabags at the Thrifty in my town.

  15. Karen says:

    I think that if you are allergic to ragweed, you should NOT have chamomile because they are in the same “family” (?)

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