Tea That Helps You Sleep: The Best Bedtime Drinks

Do you find that a relaxing herbal tea in the evening helps you shift down a few mental gears, washing away the stress of a hectic day?

As an Englishman and an insomniac, it makes sense that I’d drink tea as part of my relaxing bedtime routine.

Drinking tea might be a cultural norm for me, but I do feel that taking time out to enjoy your favorite tea, breathing deeply as the natural aromas fill the air, 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 suggests tea doesn’t help you sleep, millions of people feel 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

Part 4: Reader’s suggestions

The best bedtime teas

photo of 6 different sleep teas on a table

Here are my 6 favorite bedtime teas, complete with a glass teapot and cup to enjoy the color as well as the taste!

There’s a wide range of ready-made herbal teas waiting to be discovered, with some classics that have lasted the test of time. Here are some which prove ever popular with people all around the world, and are also my personal favorites.

Celestial Seasonings sleepytime tea

photo of a cup of celestial seasonings sleepytime tea and box

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea is one of the most popular brands of tea for sleep in the United States. It’s also growing in popularity in the United Kingdom, and many other countries.

It’s been my personal favorite nighttime tea for some time now. I find it has a delicious taste – soft and rounded even though it’s quite earthy, with no overpowering flavors that jump out. And with a little honey, it’s a lovely tea that helps me unwind at the end of a busy day.

It also has the added benefit of being soothing on the stomach. 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 (42%)
  • Spearmint
  • Lemongrass
  • Tilia flowers
  • Blackberry leaves
  • Orange blossoms
  • Hawthorn
  • Rosebuds

Available at: amazon.com  | amazon.co.uk

 

Yogi bedtime tea

photo of a cup of yogi bedtime tea in my kitchen

Yogi Bedtime tea is just one of many excellent teas that Yogi make. They produce several teas which can help with stress relief and relaxation, but this one is my favorite.

I find it a relaxing drink, and enjoy the deep, earthy flavor it has. You can really taste the valerian, chamomile and fennel combination, especially if you let it brew a little longer.

It has a wide range of certified organic ingredients, including lemon grass, which is widely used in South Asia for relaxation.

The ingredients of Yogi Bedtime tea are:

  • Fennel (31%)
  • Chamomile flowers (17%)
  • Valerian root (6%)
  • Peppermint
  • Cardamom
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemon grass
  • Sage
  • Lavender flowers
  • Nutmeg

Available at: amazon.com   | amazon.co.uk

 

Clipper sleep easy infusion

photo of clipper sleep easy tea prepared on my kitchen table

Clipper Sleep Easy is a tea that’s close to my heart, being blended in the UK, not far from where I grew up. I like how they point out that it’s made ‘with organic ingredients and a clear conscience’. Clipper say they strive to improve the welfare of the workers in the countries the ingredients come from.

Th tea has quite a mellow flavor, with just a hint of cinnamon and the rooibos coming through the standard flavor of chamomile. It’s a lovely bedtime tea, with a unique taste, that’s one of my favorites in the colder winter months.

The ingredients are:

  • Chamomile (25%)
  • Lemon balm (5%)
  • Valerian root (5%)
  • Cinnamon
  • Rooibos
  • Natural orange flavoring & other natural flavorings (5%)

Available at: amazon.com   | amazon.co.uk

 

Pukka night time

photo of a cup of pukka night time tea next to its box

Pukka Night Time has a flavor that appears similar to the Celestial Seasonings at first. But there are some subtle difference – it’s a little stronger tasting, and sweeter even. It’s a lovely flavor in fact, and one I can happily drink a couple of cups of in an evening.

The ingredients are 100% organic and ethically sourced, which I like to see. Interestingly, it’s the only commercial tea I’ve seen with green rama tulse leaf. This is thought to have anti-stress properties and used in ayurvedic medicine.

Here’s the full list of ingredients:

  • Oat flowering tops (30%)
  • Lavender flower (14%)
  • Limeflower (10%)
  • Chamomile flower
  • Licorice root
  • valerian root
  • Green rama tulsi leaf

Available at: amazon.com   | amazon.co.uk

 

Bigelow sweet dreams

bigelow sweet dreams tea prepared and ready to drink

Bigelow 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 as I adore the taste and smell of mint.

Two different mint plants fuse together to create a lovely aroma, with a rich taste that’s great to drink on an evening when you feel like a stronger tasting bedtime tea. I like my tea in a glass cup, and enjoy watching the tea change color from yellow to red as it’s steeped for longer.

Made in the US from non-GMO ingredients, I like that the box, teabag and string are all biodegradable. But if you live in a place with high humidity or damp, each teabag has its own foil pouch to protect it from moisture and air.

The ingredients of Sweet Dreams are:

  • Chamomile
  • Hibiscus
  • Peppermint leaves
  • Rose blossom
  • Spearmint leaves
  • Spice
  • Orange blossoms

Available at: amazon.com   | amazon.co.uk

 

Bluebird Tea Dozy Girl

photo of a teapot brewing up a cup of bluebird tea dozy girl in my house

The teas I’ve mentioned so far are all made by established companies and come in ready-made tea bags. But my final favorite is made by an independent British company. Calling themselves mixologists, they take pride in offering beautiful dried tea to be brewed at home.

I first walked into their flagship shop in Brighton, asked what they had for sleep, and was suggested the Dozy Girl. It has a rich flavor, and like the Bigelow, a mesmerizing color change as the red flowers slowly overpower the yellow and green.

It has a flowery perfume to it, with a fruity taste that makes a nice change from the more earthy teas. If you live in the UK, or don’t mind ordering your tea from abroad, this is one to try.

  • Chamomile
  • Rose petals
  • Lavender
  • Lemon verbena
  • Hibiscus

Available at: Bluebirdteaco.com 


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 doing some research into natural sleep remedies, I came to 2 conclusions:

  • The lack of clear evidence doesn’t necessarily mean a bedtime tea can’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 transition from the busy 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

In terms of popularity, Chamomile is the superstar of nighttime teas. The evidence for its sedative effect is still somewhat mixed, but it crops up time and time again in bedtime teas and herbal remedies.

It’s found in many brands of bedtime tea, either alone or mixed with other herbs. And if you enjoy making remedies yourself, it’s easy to make by drying out the flowers and brewing them.

chamomile tea flowers

2. Valerian

Valerian is one of the few herbs which has been repeatedly proven 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 though.

valerian tea flower

3. Lavender

Although 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 anxiety and stress are known to be causes of insomnia for many people, it could be that it helps promote sleep by reducing your nightly worries.

It does come with some warnings though, so do check that it’s safe for you to use based on your current state of health and other medications you might be taking.

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 one-size-fits-all solution that will work for anyone.

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. These are often connected to a body part, so for example problems falling asleep might be seen as being connected to the heart. So Chinese medicine would look at ways to restore balance to your heart specifically.

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.

  • Pukka sleepy time.
  • Yogi soothing bedtime caramel.
  • Lemon balm and skullcap combination.
  • Chamomile Nights by Stash, with chamomile, spearmint and lotus.
  • Chamomile mixed with Chinese tea.
  • Lavender sun tea.
  • 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.
  • Brewing 10 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.
  • Decaffeinated Earl Grey.
  • Nighty Night.
  • A concoction of the leaves of guava, taro and mulberry.
  • Triple Leaf Relaxing.

Which teas do you drink?

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.

289 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 Tiló) 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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