Tea That Helps You Sleep – The Best Bedtime Drinks

woman drinking a cup of bedtime teaIf you’re looking for a bedtime tea which both tastes good and helps you sleep, then there’s both good and bad news.

The bad news is that there’s not a whole lot of evidence that any kind of tea can actually 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 we’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 we’ll also explore why it is that even though some research says that tea doesn’t help, millions of people say it does.



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 to buy.


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Part 1: Can tea really help you sleep?

A cup of chamomile, the most popular tea that helps you sleepWhy 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 truly 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. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what goes into these bedtime drinks.


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 been found to have sedative properties. It has 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 are not 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 is 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 Wart

St John’s Wart 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 wart with yellow flowers

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 is still a valid plant used for insomnia. You just need to be  slightly cautious if 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 used to help you sleep

Chinese medicine is a complex affair. Their attitude 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 one and all.

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 to buy

There’s a good choice of ready-made herbal teas nowadays, but some brands have stood the test of time. Here are some which prove ever popular:


1) Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime TeaCelestial Seasonings continues to be the most popular make of tea for sleep in the United Sates. It’s also quickly gaining ground in Great Britain and other countries.

It’s my personal favorite night-time tea, and I find it not only relaxing but tasty. It also has the added benefit of being soothing on the tummy. So when I’ve eaten a little too much for dinner, this is the tea to soothe and relax.

The Sleepytime tea contains the following ingredients:

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

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2) Bigelow Sweet Dreams

Bigelow Sweet Dreams Herbal TeaBigelow Sweet Dreams has some extra minty pizazz on top of the usual chamomile ingredient. It’s another of my favorites, especially as I’m a mint lover.

The inclusion of two types of mint make a nice aroma and again will help calm a poorly stomach.

The ingredients are:

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

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3) Yogi Bedtime Tea

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

I find it relaxing, which isn’t surprising considering the quantity of ingredients. Do note that it includes St. John’s Wart, 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 the 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.



21 Responses to “Tea That Helps You Sleep – The Best Bedtime Drinks”

  1. Torscher says:

    Chamomile tea works well, and Sleepy Time Tea works. But chamomile night tea does help for a bit. Drink one cup of chamomile tea and then take a sleeping pill, and then sit in your bed and watch TV until you get sleepy and then have a peaceful night sleep. Hope you have a good night.

    • Hi Torscher

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad to see you find Chamomile tea good for sleep. But I have to say I’m not sure about your advice of taking a sleeping pill and watching TV in bed!

      I know this article is about tea, but I feel compelled to mention that watching TV in bed is something which is well known to stop people falling asleep easily. It’s best to keep the bedroom as a peaceful sanctuary with no visual electronics.

      Hopefully you’re also only taking sleeping pills on a short-term basis, or on the advice of a doctor It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of taking them permanently. So if you can stick with the Chamomile, but let go of the bedroom TV and maybe the sleeping pills at some point, you’ll be doing well:-)

      Best wishes

  2. Chrissy says:

    Hi Ethan,
    I recently tried a sleepy/dreaming tea that contained Mugwort. It worked nicely, but I haven’t seen much written about it or advertised in other teas?
    What is your though on this herb?
    Cheers, Chrissy

    • Hi Chrissy

      Thanks for your comment and question, and sorry for the late response – I’ve been studying so had no time to reply to comments until now. To be honest I don’t have much of an opinion on Mugwort one way or the other. I haven’t found it to be calming personally, but haven’t drunk it more than a couple of times to be fair. I have heard of other people – as yourself also now – saying it works well. But once again there is no scientific evidence that it has sedative properties, or can help with any of the other conditions it is supposed to. If it works for you though, then that’s the only important thing:-)


  3. shrikat says:

    Awesome this is good to know.
    Thanks for posting

  4. Anonymous says:

    well I hate it but I can’t fall asleep without the tv!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I may have to try the St. Johns Wart. I have not tried many natural remedies but I am thinking I should cut out the nightly glass of wine and try tea. The added benefits of something that helps with stress seems like a great idea. I think that is why I have a hard time sleeping in the first place.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for the comment, and yes, if you think you have trouble sleeping because of stress then there are many things you can do to help. Alcohol has been shown to help people fall asleep quicker, but then can disturb the amount of REM sleep you have, which is important for your well-being. So perhaps try something herbal and keep the nightly wine as a treat!

  6. Joy Abbott says:

    I swear by Dr Stuart’s Valerian Plus tea. Half an hour before bed and the next thing I know it’s morning! It’s available in the UK from Holland & Barret, Waitrose or direct from Dr Stuarts.

  7. Becca says:

    Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal caffeine free

  8. Jadesun says:

    I am a very ‘light’ sleeper, can wake up to a flick of a light switch. I have no problem falling asleep, (I can do it on a dime), what I have a hard time with is staying asleep. I chalk it up part in parcel to my low thyroid condition, people says it’s hogwash…

    • Hi Jadesun,
      It’s very common to have problems staying asleep, and there could be all kinds of explanations for it. Hopefully you’ll find a way to manage it:-)

  9. Ananymous says:

    I drink Mint Tea.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always had problems with anxiety and quality of sleep. I’ve found a routine that has helped me improve both these problems: I drink 1 cup of green tea before work, then 1 cup of coffee when I arrive at work, then in the evening I’ll drink both chamomile and decaf green teas mixed together up until bedtime (approx. 4 cups per night). I always leave the tea bags in the cup and will let it stand for a minimum of 5 minutes before drinking. I believe doing this has helped me significantly because my anxiety and sleep improved when I started this routine, plus other aspects of my life such as diet, exercise and work stresses have remained relatively constant.
    I want to try experimenting with Lavender and Valerian next.

  11. saraj says:

    Women on hormonal birth control should not have St.Johns Wort

    • Thanks for that saraj – I just did some research into that, and you appear to be correct that some warnings have appeared that it can reduce the birth control effectiveness.

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