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 much 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.

And that includes me!

 

Contents

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 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’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 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 world. 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

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.

 

1) 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

buy from amazon

 

 

2) 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

buy from amazon

 

 

3) 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

buy from amazon

 

 

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.

 


68 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
      Ethan

    • la196 says:

      To really make it even more effective, get yourself some glasses that block the “blue light” coming from your electronics…TV, phone, clocks, iPads, so your body can produce the important melatonin. That blue light emitted from the TV will go through the eyes to the part of the brain that produces the melatonin. (Pineal gland). They’re less than 10.00 at Amazon. I bought the ones that can fit over my glasses. I think they’ve made a big difference with my sleep latency since buying them.

      • Hi la196,

        That’s an interesting idea, and you’re totally right about the light being capable of interfering with your natural melatonin production, and so your sleep cycle. The alternative is of course to turn the brightness right down if using computers or phones. And if it’s a good TV, also on there if the option is available.
        But best of all is of course to read a book and not watch any electronic device!
        Regards
        Ethan

    • Anonymous says:

      No matter What anyone say chamomile tea does not help you sleep I’m a severe insomniac and it did not help me sleep

      • Hi
        It definitely won’t help everyone! If you’re a severe insomniac, then it might just not be enough for you. But as part of a relaxing bed-time ritual you might find it helpful rather than expecting it to be an all-out sedative.
        Regards
        Ethan

  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:-)

      Regards
      Ethan

  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!
      Regards
      Ethan

  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:-)
      Ethan

  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.

  12. Candace says:

    I found that celestial seasonings sleepy time kids tea good night grape works great I had essentially gotten it for my children but decided to try it myself add I have a very hard time going to sleep at night and it does help to put me to sleep

    • Hi Candace,

      Thanks for your comment – it’s great to hear from readers and which teas they find relaxing. How lucky that you found a tea which helps both you and the kids!

      Regards
      Ethan

  13. Lynn says:

    For me I just drink a strawberry tea. The aroma is amusing and it helps me to sleep :)

  14. TJ says:

    I’ve never been a tea drinker until I recently decided to eliminate caffeine from my diet. I knew nothing about teas, so I experimented with a few different flavors. One was chamomile. I couldn’t believe how tired I became after one cup. And this was in the afternoon! I didn’t have another cup of chamomile for a week, but the same thing happened. Again , in the afternoon…BAM, I completely nodded off before finishing the entire cup. Fortunately, I was already home from work when the sleepiness kicked in. As a novice tea drinker, I had no idea that this kind of tea could make you drowsy. In my case, it really kicks my butt. Maybe my make-up makes me susceptible to chamomile. But I think I’ll hold off drinking it until shortly before bedtime. I don’t need this effect early in the day.

    • Hi TJ

      Thanks for your comment, and it’s great that you’ve found a tea which works so well! You definitely sound like you’re particularly susceptible to the sedative effect the chamomile has, so I guess you’re right in being careful when you drink it. But it’s good to hear from someone who has had such success with it as a bedtime drink.

      Regards
      Ethan

  15. Billy whizz (William). says:

    I drink a cup of camomile tea (asda camomile tea bags) usually 3 or 4 evenings in the week . It does work for me ,but I seem to dream a lot more and the dreams are rather weird . Hope this is usefull.

    • Hi Billy

      Thanks for the comment – I guess it’s up to you whether to continue with the strange dreams or not! Some people would welcome that, others not. But at least you’ve found something which can help you sleep:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  16. Sarah E. says:

    I bought a herbal tea sampler a while back. I tried Chamomile, and though it smelled and looked wonderful, for some reason it didn’t taste good. I know I like Red Rose, which is all my family drinks, and I enjoyed Earl Grey/English Breakfast, but other than that I haven’t experimented much.

    Is there a healthier alternative to having a tea that tastes soothingly sweet without loading it with sugar? I’m trying to cut back on the amount of sugar, milk and cream I use in my tea.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment. Have you tried adding just a bit of honey to your tea? There are lots of different kinds of honey you can try, and it will definitely add some sweetness, and depending on which you use, reduce the amount of refined sweetness you’re adding – at least when compared to standard sugar.

      Maybe another reader will have an idea for you as well:-)

      Regards
      Ethan

  17. Tracy p says:

    I love Celestial Seasongs teas. I drink many of them. I have found that the Sleepytime Vanilla is really good alone or combined with their peppermint.

  18. vasanthi says:

    What tea is best for sleep ?
    Chamomile normal tea or chamomile with mint tea ?

    • Hi Vasanthi,

      It’s impossible to say really. Sometimes I think it’s weird that mint can help promote sleep because it’s also used to refresh and energize. But lots of people do find it helps them relax. So I guess it doesn’t make much difference, and it’s up to you to decide which works best.
      Regards

      Ethan

  19. Joe says:

    Thanks for putting this article out there Ethan. So often we see the commercials for prescription sleep aids. They are often much more expensive and dare I say, un-natural ways to fall asleep than having some chamomile or valerian or peppermint tea.

    • Hi Joe,

      I’m glad you appreciate the article. I try to look at the world of sleep from different angles, so whilst I cover traditional sleep aids, I’m also a big fan of natural remedies. And as I say in various different places, even if it’s mind over matter at work or the relaxing feeling you get from sitting down with a herbal tea, it’s just as good as something actually having a sedative effect.
      And of course, I’m from England, so a nice cup of tea will always feature highly on my recommended actions for just about any problem in life:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  20. marco says:

    a teaspoon of locally produced honey accompanied by a cup of strong peppermint tea just before bedtime, leads to pleasant dreams – which probably means a good sleep. Apparently the Chinese have known this for thousands of years. Conversely, a spoon of the horrendously tasting manuka honey before bed causes me to dream, but weird and wild dreams – the choice is yours.

    • Hi Marco,

      Thanks for your comment, and yes peppermint tea with some honey does make for a fantastic bedtime tea. I’ve never been aware of Manuka honey causing me any strange dreams, so now you mention it, I might have to experiment and see what happens!
      Regards
      Ethan

  21. Brad says:

    Tazo – Rest works great! Chamomile and Valerian root. It’s one of the few I can find around with Valerian root as an ingredient. Sometimes tough to find in stores so when I do find it, I get a few boxes. A nice cup of that and about a half hour later i’m ready for lights out! One of the few I can actually feel working.

    • Hi Brad,

      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried the Tazo-rest so might have to give it a go. It’s always good to hear about new teas, so thanks for the idea!
      Regards
      Ethan

  22. ks says:

    Hi there,

    Glucose levels dropping during the night is very commonly responsible for the sudden waking up in the middle of the night often accompanied with anxiety which is caused by the hormone Cortisol that the body produces to counteract the low blood sugar.

    If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, try eating a couple of large teaspoons of honey. If you find you drop off to sleep fairly soon afterwards then you know low blood sugar levels are the problem.

    A diet consisting of less carbohydrates and more protein will help balance your blood sugars and prevent the huge swings in insulin (and consequently crashing blood glucose levels) which occur due to a diet rich in heavy carbs such as bread, potato, pasta etc..

    Alcohol at night will also cause these lows and especially anxiety..

    I hope this helps someone, it works really well for me..

    • Hi KS

      Thanks for your comment and your advice. It’s certainly an interesting an idea to test out the blood sugar drop possibility with some honey. I also imagine that having a generally healthy and balanced diet should help. Especially if you eat lower GI food, even if you still like your carbs. Brown rice and bread and wholewheat pasta for example.
      Thanks again
      Ethan

  23. joanne says:

    I just read about kava helping with stress and anxiety and I have terrible back issues and don’t want to always be medicated before bed. It’s 9:10 and I just had some Yogi Kava tea I got from W.Foods (surprisingly large selection there). I hope it works!

    • Hi Joanne,

      Yes, Kava is one of those which many people believe can help with anxiety and stress. If you have a moment, it would be great to hear back from you and how you got on with the tea.
      Regards
      Ethan

  24. Pascal says:

    “Sleep With Me” blend from Paromi Teas. Super hi – grade organic product, comes in a glass jar. Chamomile, Valerian, etc.

    • Hi Pascal,

      Thanks for that recommendation. I’ll have to try that one – I’ve just looked it up online and the ingredients seem quite interesting and different from most other night time teas.

      Regards
      Ethan

  25. Anonymous says:

    To me, the best way to come home and relax and have a good night sleep is a glass of wine, just poor it in a wine glass with one or two cubes of ice and sip it like it’s going to be the last drink you ever have,.. Just remember one Glass only, but if you go for the second glass consider yourself a wine- not…drinker.

  26. Mollie says:

    I just started drinking Yogi Kava Tea at night to relax and promote sleep. It works very well for me, but for the last two nights I have been getting slight headaches. So trying to figure out what could cause the headaches I went on the internet and there are warning about kava and liver damage. Now I wonder where to go to get more facts.

    • Hi Mollie,

      Thanks for your comment, and that sounds a bit stressful! One minute you’re enjoying a relaxing cup of tea, the next you’re worrying about headaches and liver damage! You could always try looking at the websites of major health organizations for more information. There are always health warnings attached to just about everything you can ingest, but I think Kava tea wouldn’t be sold on such a commercial basis if it wasn’t passed as safe to drink! But perhaps you are one of the people who is more sensitive to it than others. And on the other hand, the headaches could have been caused by something else. Try a different tea for a few days and see if the headaches stop.
      Regards
      Ethan

  27. Jason says:

    Hi Ethan, how about Rooibos tea, have you heard of it ? Sorry if you mentioned it in your passage but I didn’t notice it. If compare Rooibos with Chamomile, which one of it has a better effect in helping people to sleep ?

    • Hi Jason,

      I drink quite a lot of Rooibos tea and really like it! However, I don’t consider it a bedtime tea and don’t know of any sedative effects. I mainly use it as a replacement for normal English tea when it’s later in the day and I don’t want to drink anything with caffeiene. But I imagine that like many hot drinks, if you find it relaxing to sit down and enjoy a cup, then that’s as good as anything else!

      In comparison with Chamomile, I imagine Chamomile has more of a reputation as a sedative. But as I said, whatever works for you!

      Regards
      Ethan

  28. Brenna Hamilton says:

    I do not think i have insomnia, but i do have some sleep troubles. When i was a little bit younger (I am between the ages of 13 and 17) i used to have peppermint tea every night before bed, i have slacked off though. Would drinking peppermint tea again help me sleep better? Does the Bigelow Sweet Dreams really work?

    • Hi Brenna,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sure that if it helped you in the past, there is a good chance it will help you again. It’s worth trying! I think it works in so much as if you find it relaxing then that’s good enough. That’s my opinion anyway:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  29. Rej says:

    it’s St John’s Wort, NOT St John’s Wart .

    For me, passion flower mix with Hops help to calm down. Not too much HOPs though because it’s a diuretic .

    • Hi Rej

      Thank you very much for that correction – I can’t believe how long that error has stood there for before either I noticed or someone pointed it out! I’ve been trying a local passion flower tea recently and quite enjoying it. Do you make your own mix?
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Rej says:

        I’ve bought some local hops which is very high in alpha and beta acid so I don’t need to use that much. It need to infuse for 5 minutes in very hot water. As to the passion flower, I buy the best one i can find in form of tea bags. I really feel the effect , sometimes feeling a bit dizzy.

        ( rather funny that a French Canadian is correcting some english text, I make so many mistakes in english :-) Cheers ! )

  30. BLMofMI says:

    I do believe teas can be helpful. I read an article that suggested steeping 2-3 tea bags in a 1/2cup (mug) of boiled water; cover the mug and let it steep for at least one half of an hour. I actually prepare it at dinner and then drink it at bedtime. My sleeping has finally turned the corner from “unable to fall asleep” to “more easily fall asleep and it be restful.” It did take about a week or so for that to happen. I combined several teas which contained key herbs of lavender and chamomile among the higher content ingredients. For full disclosure, I did use a lavender cream on my feet (at bedtime) in conjunction with drinking the tea. I no longer have to do this every night. One major change I made was eliminating caffeine after 1:00 p.m.

    • Hi BLMofMI

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad to hear you found such success in improving your sleep through drinking tea, and perhaps with a little help from some relaxing pampering! I don’t know about the specifics of steeping tea for so long, and I guess it depends on the exact ingredients, quantities and desired effect. Personally I find tea which has been steeped for a long time a little over-bearing. But if you enjoy it, that’s all that matters!
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Rej says:

        well, it’s written on the box of most of those infusions to let it for 5 minutes in boiled water. I guess that the rough taste that we get after those 5 minutes must be from the useful ingredients. Pleasant tasting medicine is quite rare ! Hops in hot water taste awful. It’s too bad that beer just keep me awake if i drink only a few…

        • Hi Rej,

          Thanks for adding that extra information, and your English is very good! 5 minutes sounds much more like the time I would expect to brew tea for. It’s interesting that you’ve found a combination of natural sources and bought teabags. I think that’s a good idea!
          Regards
          Ethan

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