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sleep tea

If 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 much scientific evidence that any 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 nighttime teas, and examining which herbs, flowers and plants go into them. I’ll also explore why it is that even though some research says tea doesn’t help you sleep, millions of people say it does.

And that includes me!

Contents

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.

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 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 nighttime tea for a long time now. 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 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

buy from amazon

 

 

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 nighttime 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

 

 

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.

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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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 find it relaxing to sit down with your favorite bedtime tea, then that’s perhaps 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 found that there’s 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 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.

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 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. 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 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 more often associated with providing energy and helping stomach problems. However, it’s 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

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, so chinese medicine would look at ways to restore balance to that organ.

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? Do you have a favorite brand? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

195 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great article and accurate. As a fellow insomniac, I have drank the majority of these and they all help. I agree with a lot of people that the Yogi Bedtime tea works particularly well (and also tastes the best). What nobody mentioned is that Rooibos (red) tea is actually pretty effective at relieving insomnia symptoms. I actually prefer it to chamomile and lavender because it tastes so good.

    • Hi Daniel
      Thanks for your comment and compliment – it’s good of you to say so!
      I haven’t really considered Rooibos as a good tea for sleep. My dad drinks it regularly and has terrible sleep problems – maybe that’s why I never really though of it as something that helps! But you’re right in that many people, especially in South Africa, do regard it as a good tea to relieve stress and insomnia.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Thank you for the article, Ethan! These are all teas I have tried – the Yogi Bedtime, by far, works the best for me. It calms my nerves and helps me sleep. Equally as wonderful for helping me relax and sleep is Lavender Tea. I happen to love the way it tastes. I believe all it contains is dried lavender. I get it at a tea shop called Cha for Tea. I’ve also had tea that is made of only passionflower, and that helps me relax fall asleep as well, but it doesn’t taste so great.

    • Hi Suzhen
      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you liked the article. I agree that passion flower can have a funny taste if it’s not mixed with others. I think it’s best with other flavors mixed in.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I recently had to change my high-bloodpressure pill
    The trial and error methods the doctor tried with the new pill as well as bodily symptoms gave me a a lot of concern.
    This in turn lead to insomnia which leads to to shooting up of my hypertension.
    The doctor says the insomnia is the culprit.
    Please suggest herbsl teas to solve the sleep problem.
    Thanks

    • Hi Tasneem
      Thanks for your comment. Well, I’m not sure a cup of tea on its own is going to cure you of insomnia and the resulting hypertension, if that is indeed what’s causing it. My advice would be to look at the insomnia from a broader point of view. You might find it helpful to read my recent article about how I beat insomnia, which is full of good advice and tips you can try. I’d also perhaps try some relaxation techniques to help you sleep. But as far as teas go, you could always try with a chamomile and see if that helps you relax and unwind at night.

    • Hi Amy

      Thanks for your question. I don’t think it really matters to be honest. As long as you find it relaxing, that’s the important thing. And if the herbs have sedative properties, hopefully they will still work. Perhaps you can come back in a week and let us know what you think!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • The best I ever found was called Voodoo Mom Teas Sleep Happens from Chicama Run in Purcellville, Va. It contained Lemon Balm, Hibiscus Flowers , Valerian Root, Skullcap, Passionflower, Hops, &Lavender Flowers. It worked everytime. Last I heard they are out of business.

  • I’m Cuban and in my country the go to sleep king of all teas is the linden leaves tea(Te de Til√≥) and surprisingly enough it wasn’t even mention in this article. In Cuba everyone knows that if you are having bad day and need to relax your grandma will make you some linden leave tea and the best part is that your don’t even have to buy it because it’s right in your backyard. I didn’t read this article to find out if tea helps you sleep or not, I’m reading this because it makes me go to sleep really fast and I wanted to know why and if there were other options out there, I’m not a big tea drinker. I recommend 100% the Linden leave tea to anyone who is looking for a relaxing tea. I’m famous at home for spending all night watching movies but since I started drinking linden tea at night after 25 minutes I’m in bed. Good luck !

    • Hi Dayan
      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know about that tea! It’s always fascinating to hear from other cultures and countries and the natural remedies they have passed down through the generations. I will look it up and maybe put it into the article!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Triple Leaf Relaxing Tea!!! It is a chinese herbal tea, that comes with 20 bags and is quite cheap compared to the others mentioned I get it from the asian supermarket and it has Ingredients:
    Chamomile flower, Peppermint leaf, Catnip leaf, Blackberry leaf, Licorice root, Passionflower herb, Skullcap herb, Valerian root.

    I really think This tea has all the perfect ingredients all around and works better than any of the others mentioned. Also it is cheap and has an affect similar to a sleeping pill! Dont go driving after drinking this one! but HIGHLY recommended for insomnia and Anxiety
    Even though catnip makes cats go hyper and crazy apparently it has a sedative opposite affect on humans

    • Hi Jasmine
      Thanks for your comment and interesting tea suggestion. You obviously rate that tea very highly, but it’s another I haven’t seen before. I’ll keep an eye out for it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • You pretty much named all of the teas that I drink for relaxation. One more to add to the list is Tazo (Calm) tea. It has chammomile, hibiscus, rose petals, and other common sleep herbs. I sometimes add yogi to it, because it has Valerian.
    Rest easy,
    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff
      Thanks for your comment. I will have to try Tazo. Considering the fact that we share so many favourite teas, I imagine I’ll like that one too!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I love Triple Leaf Relaxing Tea. I think it’s the strongest and best tasting tea of its kind — it really works! I can find it usually in Chinatown, and I also order it online at vitamin shops, for less than $2 for a box of 20 tea bags. It’s a great aid for sleep.

  • I really enjoy sleepytime extra and bedtime. I add one sachet each to a cup and pour hot water over and steep until cool enough to sip. I have backups of each now that I have a cup each night before bed. I will have to look for the sleepytime with vanilla.

    • Hi Melody
      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried combining the two before, so maybe I’ll give that a go! I do find that very strong tea is a bit too much, so it might not be for me. But if you enjoy it and find it relaxing, that’s the main thing.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Sleepytime is an excellent tea for relaxation and I regularly drink it at bedtime. Celestial Seasonings now makes a Sleepytime tea with vanilla which is delicious and has become my preference when I can find it in the stores.

    • Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment. I would say the best thing is to find honey made locally to you and buy it direct from them rather than a big brand honey. I’ve found some amazing honeys around the world before by doing that. Then you also have other options like Agave nectar and Stevia. But local honey is my preferred choice.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi Richey
      There are other teas you can try, but perhaps the best thing is to look where you live and see if you can find teas containing some of the other ingredients instead of chamomile. You might have to just look in a shop or online and carefully check the ingredients of any teas which are marketed as being relaxing or calming.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Try tearing up maybe 10 or so sweet mint leaves in boiling or very hot water. That works for me when I’m out of Sleepytime tea which I usually use along with it.

    • Hi Arnold
      I have seen sources which suggest that, and then again, other research studies which suggest it doesn’t, for example this study looking at it’s effect on anticancer drugs.
      I think the best thing is always to research carefully if any meds you are on interact with anything else you take. And if you have doubts, consult your doctor.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • In England, I haven’t found Sleepytime tea, which I loved in America. I drink Snore and Peace tea by Clipper which has the chamomile, lemon balm and lavender ingredients on your list. I like the artistic bright blue packaging too. I have also drunk Pukka’s night time tea, but it doesn’t really do it for me.

  • I love yogi bedtime tea… I’ve tried several different kinds but yogi always does the trick for me. I have an extremely hard time getting sleepy enough to fall asleep no matter how tired I may be.. I’ve tried every thing possible except knocking myself out with a bat lol but yogi works the best so far..

  • I love all kinds of herbal teas especially Sleepytime. They’ve come out with a version of this tea with some other things to help sinus. This is great for me and my eternal sinus problems. I would like to learn more about the concerns of using St. John’s Wort or Kava, Kava. Thank you.

    • Hi Barbara

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know they had produced a tea to help with sinus. That will be great if it helps, as so many people have sinus trouble. If you want to know more about St.John’s Wort or Kava Kava, I’d do some searching online. There are many great websites with lots of information about them. WebMD and Wikipedia have comprehensive articles about both of them for example.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m currently waiting to have surgery on an injured shoulder and have been struggling to sleep. I’m currently on muscle relaxants that supposedly have a drowsiness quality. I honestly haven’t slept through the night due to the pain since I got hurt in Sept. The other day a close friend suggested that I try chamomile tea and another friend who heard in passing gave me some. My first night I tried it and did my usual routine, not long after drinking it I felt fairly sleepy. I turned off everything and crashed. For the first time in a couple months I actually slept through the night. Night two- I’m fairly tired and could probably sleep, but I’m feeling fairly wound up due to a lot of hard circumstances going on in my life. I am considering drinking a second cup, but thus far this tea has actually made a difference for me, and this sleep deprived girl is extremely grateful.

    *Just a little side note, I actually hate tea, of just about 99.9% of every kind but I actually kinda like the taste of this stuff. Lol.

    • Hi Robin
      Thanks for your comment. I’d say there’s nothing wrong with drinking a cup or two of chamomile tea every night. If it helps you relax and sleep, that’s great! Good luck with the surgery when it happens.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi, Ethan,
    I have a friend who sent me a bag of Chamomile (whole leaf/flower) and a bag of Lemon Verbena (whole leaf/flower) and i steeped them together in hot, but not boiling, water for about 5 minutes (in a tea ball) and drank it with a bit of lemon and sugar, and i can attest that these two in conjunction are fabulous at calming one down and allowing them to have a VERY peaceful night’s sleep. I absolutely love these two teas and they have a VERY pleasant taste together. :-)

  • 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.

  • 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 :)

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

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