Tea That Helps You Sleep: The Best Bedtime Drinks

image of a cup of traditional sleep teaDo you find that a relaxing herbal tea in the evening helps you shift down a few mental gears and wash away the stress of a hectic day?

As an Englishman and an insomniac, it makes sense that I’d include tea in my gentle bedtime ritual.

Cultural programming aside though, I firmly believe that taking time out to enjoy your favorite tea, and breathe deeply as the natural aromas drift around you is a great way to relax at night.

In this article I’ll be taking a look at some of the most popular nighttime teas, and examining which herbs, flowers and plants are used for relaxation.

I’ll also explore why it is that even though some research says tea doesn’t help you sleep, millions of people feel it does – and that includes me!


Part 1: The best bedtime teas

Part 2: Can tea really help you sleep or is it all in the mind?

Part 3: The herbs, flowers, plants and roots that may help you relax and sleep

Part 4: Reader’s suggestions

The best bedtime teas

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

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

image of a box of celestial seasonings sleepytimeCelestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea continues to be one of the most popular brands 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 nighttime tea for a long time now. I find it has a delicious taste and definitely helps me unwind at the end of a busy day.

It also has the added benefit of being soothing on the tummy. So when I’ve eaten a little too much rich food, 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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Yogi Bedtime Tea

yogi bedtime teaYogi Bedtime Tea is just one of many excellent teas that Yogi make. They have several other teas which can help with stress relief and relaxation.

I find it a relaxing drink, and it’s also the only tea which includes just about every plant on the list in part 2 of this article,

Do note that it includes St. John’s Wort though, so you need to be sure it’s safe for you to use. 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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Bigelow Sweet Dreams

bigelow sweet dreams teaBigelow Sweet Dreams has some extra minty pizzazz to accompany the usual chamomile that you’ll find in most nighttime teas. It’s another of my favorites, especially as I absolutely adore the taste and smell of mint.

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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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 feel from personal experience that it can help you fall asleep.

If you like the taste and enjoy relaxing on the sofa with your favorite bedtime tea, in some ways that’s the only thing that really matters.

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

However, when I was writing about natural sleep remedies, 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 valuable part of my bedtime routine; taking time out to sit and relax while drinking tea helps me fade from the active daytime to the calmer nighttime.

Whether there’s evidence or not, many people firmly believe in the power of a soothing cup of tea to help them sleep.

The plants and herbs that help you sleep

1. Chamomile

Chamomile is the superstar of nighttime teas. There’s not a great deal of evidence that it has any real sedative effects, yet people continue to drink it before going to bed. You can easily make it yourself by drying out the flowers and brewing them. 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 made from the root of the flower, and people have used it for centuries to help with sleep and anxiety. It may take a couple of weeks of regular drinking before the full sedative effect is felt.

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 believed to aid relaxation by many people, 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 often associated with providing energy and helping stomach problems, but is also 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 stomach 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

There are some formulas created to reflect the kind of sleep problems you might have. And these are often connected to a body part as well. Problems falling asleep may be connected to the heart, for example. So Chinese medicine would look at ways to restore balance to that organ.

Reader’s suggestions

Since writing this article, many readers have left comments describing their favorite bedtime teas – thank you all! With so many fantastic suggestions, I’ve decided to start a list so future readers can see what others are drinking.

  • Lemon balm and skullcap combination.
  • Chamomile Nights by Stash, with chamomile, spearmint and lotus.
  • Pukka sleepy time.
  • Chamomile mixed with Chinese tea.
  • Lavender sun tea.
  • Celestial Seasonings sleepytime extra herbal tea.
  • Yogi soothing bedtime caramel.
  • Sleepytime tea mixed with chai white tea and Rooibos red tea.
  • Chamomile steeped in hot water along with lemon verbena, with some lemon and sugar added.
  • Snore and Peace tea by Clipper.
  • Tearing up 10 or so sweet mint leaves in boiling or very hot water.
  • Sleepytime tea with vanilla.
  • Triple Leaf Relaxing Tea (Chinese herbal tea).
  • Linden leaves tea.
  • Peppermint and chamomile tea combined.
  • Tension Tamer.
  • Tazo tea.
  • Happy Nights tea by Carmencita.
  • Nettle tea and Chamomile with a teaspoon of raw honey.
  • Teavana’s Winterberry

Which teas do you drink?

So there you have my thoughts about the various teas that might help you unwind at the end of a stressful day and perhaps sleep a little easier.

Now it’s over to you to talk about the teas you like. Do you make your own tea or do you buy it? Do you have a favorite tea? Please share your ideas in the comments below, and if there’s anything new I’ll add it to the list above.

246 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Within the last few months, out of no where, I have started kicking in my sleep. When I say kick, I mean my husband says that it’s like I am swimming, my legs are moving that fast. The blankets are a mess every morning now, and I am developing a lower backache from kicking so much. That being said, I must be getting a workout, because at times even my upper thighs ache. Was going to call the Dr. today after another marathon kicking spree last night, but I have a feeling that I will be prescribed a sleeping pill, and I want to avoid that. I am 52, had a complete hysterectomy in my mid 40’s with no hormonal therapy after. I love tea and would love some recommendations for something that might relax me enough to get a better nights sleep for myself and my husband.

    • Hi Linda
      Thanks for your comment. I think it would still be a good idea to talk to your doctor about this, to rule out any physical cause or sleep disorder. Even if they do recommend sleeping pills, you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to.
      Do you ever feel a burning, itching or other sensation in your legs when you go to bed or wake up in the night? Or do you feel more stressed or have had any major life changes recently?

  • I just started drinking looseleaf tea recently. Teavana’s Winterberry is the best herbal tea I’ve ever had. I don’t even need to put a sweetener in it. I’ve been sleeping like a baby every night since I’ve been drinking it for the past 2 1/2 weeks now. Love the article!

    • Hi AJ
      Thanks for your comment and the suggestion – how great that the tea is helping you sleep so well! And it’s nice to hear you liked the article!

  • I have tried the sleepy time tea and would like to comment that I think all who try these should do so in the daytime and see how they react. I became very depressed ( in a black hole, type of depression). I cannot tolerate St John’s Wort, Valerian or Chamomile , but would love to find a solution to my inability to fall asleep. I am on prescription drugs that are very addicting and am building up a tolerance. But please be aware of interractions like these! Thanks for all you do!

    • Hi Connie
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’re going to have difficulty using herbs to help you sleep if you are intolerant to those ingredients, though there are alternatives that don’t contain them. Have you had a good look at my section about sleep hygiene? There are loads of good tips in there and strategies for sleeping better that you might find useful.

  • what are the dangers of kava kava…? just bought my mom a sleep tea that has organic kava kava, organic skullcap, etc. for her insomnia. would love to know your thoughts on if those 2 are safe….

  • My nighttime tea of choice now is Fidnemed Nighttime Tea by mountain rose herbs
    Organic Lemon Balm, organic Hibiscus flowers, organic Skullcap, organic Passionflower, organic Hops flowers, organic Valerian root, and organic Lavender flowers.
    It is a bulk loose tea and it is great.

    • Hi Abigail
      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. It’s not a typical bedtime type of tea, so makes an interesting alternative for those who don’t like the classic ingredients.

  • I just found out that chamomile is related to ragweed. I have been using Sleepytime tea for about a week, and I’m itching like crazy. Is there any nighttime tea that does not have chamomile?

    • Hi Emma
      To be honest I’m not an expert on herbs that are ok during pregnancy. But I just had a look into it, and found some sources saying some of these herbs should be avoided when pregnant. However, I also found some interesting articles saying that the recommendations change from source to source, so the best thing is to check with your own healthcare provider.

  • I like to mix Neetle tea and Camomile with a tspn of raw honey. Does the trick for me. I also take a 2 tspn of Black Seed Oil. Black Seed Oil and Stinging Neetle are Big Pharmas worst nightmare.

  • I only have one kidney after kidney cancer. I’ve been using Sleepytime tea and just told by my internist that it has Valerian Root in it which can hurt your kidney something I try to be very careful of even with medications, vitamins and supplements. If I had known, it is not listed on the box.

    • Hi Patsy
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right, it’s not listed on the box. There are so many possible interactions between herbal remedies and health conditions and medications, it’s not easy to keep track of. Your comment highlights how important it is to research carefully if you have any specific conditions. I also had cancer a few years ago, and since then am generally diligent about what I consume. Though once in a while I discover that yet another thing I’ve been eating or drinking is probably best avoided. It’s not easy, is it?
      I wish you all the best.

    • I was under the impression there are two types of Sleepytime tea. The regular one that we’re all familiar with and an “extra” version with Valarian root in it. (Which I’ve not found nor tried.) Do a search on their site for Sleepytime to see all the offerings under this blend.

  • I find that whenever I have trouble sleeping or just want to sleep easier, a combination of lemon balm and skullcap works wonders for me. Sometimes I’ll play around with it and add valerian or chamomile if I want the strength or flavour changed.

    Lastly, I think the greatest benefit of all is how much it helps for sleeping when you have a cold, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s suffered a sleepless night thanks to a nasty cold. It turns out that lemon balm in particular has some interesting antiviral properties! I believe that in combination with other factors surrounding the tea (clearing the nose/throat) can make for much better sleep even through a nasty cold, because I can tell you it’s helped me!

    Excellent post, by the way, Ethan. Cheers!

    • Hi Marko
      Thanks for your comment, and the compliment – I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for your suggestion of the lemon balm and skullcap. I also think your point about using herbal tea to help with colds/congestion is a very valid one. It’s amazing how much a blocked nose and throat can mess up your sleep, so this is an interesting slant on the sleep tea debate.

  • I’ve had most of the teas listed above both in the comments and the post. And, as a severe insomniac — I find the tea that helps me relax most is Chamomile Nights by Stash. Chamomile, spearmint and lotus. Used to love the Yogi Bedtime tea…but, I’ve been converted!

    Thanks for the great tips on this site, by the way.

    • Hi Heather
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the site useful – that’s always good to know! And I agree that Chamomile nights is a good tea.

  • I used to have chronic insomnia, falling asleep was a very big problem, I used to cry on my bed sometimes when I can’t slp but now God being so good I tried chamomile tea and gosh I feel very relaxed and I sleep well too

  • Found this site is really helpful. Thanks for your generous sharing. I have serious insomnia as sometimes i even can’t sleep for one second for entire day. I just came to know chamomile tea recently. I used to have gassy stomach too. So this tea solve my stomach problem too.

    I mix chamomile tea with sleeping herbs powder prescribed by my doctor and plus diffusing the lavender essential oil. Most of the nights they work quite well. If too serious i will mix the tea with another chinese sleeping tea( sour date and so on).

    • Hi Jason
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the website helpful. It’s always good to hear from people who find tea does help them sleep. Which herb powder is it that your doctor recommended, out of interest?

  • Hi Ethan,

    I have insomnia about twice a week. Avoiding technology in bed, complete silence , cool temperature, and chamomile teA do help me get good night sleeps.

    want to try the ear plugs. How do you use them. Do you kinda screw them into your ear canals? See, it doesn’t stay in place so. Thought I would ask you.

    Thanks for your blog, Ethan!

    • Hi Mimi
      Thanks for your comment. Those are all very good ways to make sure you have the best chance of sleeping well. It depends which kind of earplugs you try. They all come with instructions for inserting them. But usually they are either squised and inserted, or gently squeezed into the right position.

  • Hi I’m just curious will “diplomat very berry tea” aid in the help of other meds I’m currently on a very light sleeping tablet some nights they work so I take double doctor has allowed this but was thinking if I just had the one would the tea do the trick and help me relax more it’s caffeine free of course! Thank you xxxx

    • Hi Vanessa
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure the tea itself would help you sleep, but if you find it relaxing to take some time out and enjoy the tea before bed, that relaxation can definitely help you sleep. I think one of the best things about drinking tea at night is the calming effect the ritual can have. Perhaps you can let us know after a few nights of trying it?

  • Does just chamomile tea help you relax enough to let you sleep?? Cause I just bought a box of Bigelow Cozy Chamomile tea and am scared to try. This is my first time trying to get some sleep WITHOUT prescription meds.

    • Hi Allison
      Thanks for your comment. Mmm to be honest, no it doesn’t unless I’m already quite tired. I don’t think a cup of tea on its own is enough to help me sleep. However, if I do all the other things which I know help me sleep, then a soothing cup of chamomile definitely helps the overall picture. My advice would be not to put all your hopes in the tea helping you sleep. But use it as a part of a relaxing bedtime routine, and practice healthy sleep habits and routines in general.

    • I have been taking ambient of sleep as well, but it is very hard on the liver..and I have cirrosis. Started drinking 8or9 Ozs of Sleepytime Extra – before bed and have slept great the past 3 nites!!! Tastes great and it works really fast. With no morning guilt or fogg. I also put my iPad next to my bed and type in “sleep inducing music insomniac so. You can choose from many different selections from rain, frogs (ect.) or music. Choose how many hrs as well. My personal favorites “inner peace”, “angelic music” or nature sounds. Good luck, do yourself and your liver a favor. Let me know.

    • Hi Deanna
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure to be honest! As with many teas, I think the main thing is if you find it helps you relax to sit down, take time out and enjoy the tea. Let me know what you find!

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