It’s been a long day in a longer week and, despite being exhausted, you’re just too wound up to sleep. This describes way too many of us these days. Getting adequate sleep feels like a luxury, but it’s more than that; it’s imperative. And yet, as much as we want it and need it, we may sometimes find it elusive. Tea can help, but not just any tea will do the trick. A warm, relaxing cuppa is always helpful, but what kind of tea makes you sleepy? Let’s find out!
What Kind of Tea Makes You Sleepy?
There are a few herbs that can help you sleep: chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, valerian root, passionflower, and mint. While not an exhaustive list, these are the most common.
Chamomile has been long known for its gentle tranquilizing properties due to an antioxidant called apigenin. Apigenin binds to receptors in your brain that are thought to decrease anxiety and bring about sleep. What better way to send yourself off to dreamland than chamomile tea goodness?
Note: If you are allergic to pollen or ragweed, you shouldn’t drink chamomile tea.
Lavender doesn’t just have a relaxing aroma; it may also help you take the edge off when you’re feeling tense at the end of a long day. Lavender has some renown for calming the brain by increasing feel-good dopamine while decreasing the stress hormone called cortisol.
The extra cool thing about lavender tea is that drinking it isn’t the only way to get the benefits. Even just inhaling lavender can impart many of its soothing properties. You can bathe in it, put it in your diffuser, or make a linen spray.
Despite the tomfoolery of its citrus scent, lemon balm is in the mint family. Lemon balm’s claim to fame is its ability to reduce stress and improve sleep. It may elevate GABA levels to produce a sedative effect, which can be a boon for those with chronic sleep problems.
Researchers are unsure exactly how valerian root contributes to better sleep, but they think it may be due to a neurotransmitter known as GABA. Increased GABA levels make us sleepy. Valerian root also gets some credit for dimming down nervousness and headaches.
While valerian root is regarded as safe and mostly side-effect-free, taking this supplement or tea is not recommended for the long term. Using valerian root for sleep is best reserved for occasional or short-term use.
This strikingly beautiful purple passionflower has been traditionally used to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality even on its own. Combined with valerian root and hops in a preparation, it may be as effective as a commercially prepared sleep aid.
While peppermint and other plants in the mint family may not commonly be associated with sleepiness, the menthol in mint plants has been known to be antispasmodic and muscle relaxing. This can give us the comforting feeling of settling down into our bodies and letting tension slip away. Mint tea can also soothe the tummy, so it’s a great addition to sleepy time tea blends.
Sleepy Tea Blends
Not only can bedtime tea blends help you get your zzzs, but they can also heighten your comfort and enjoyment in those last 30-60 minutes before bed.
Cuddletime chamomile mint tea features chamomile, peppermint, and comforting vanilla with rooibos. With the body-relaxing goodness of mint, you won’t be able to resist the “ahh” of this lullaby of a tea. It smells amazing and tastes just right for cuddling up with that book you’re dying to finish.
Hint: You can even use Cuddletime in the bath. You’re welcome!
My personal favorite is the Calm Chamomile Bloom tea, which is the trifecta of sleepy teas since it’s got chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm sweetly rounded out with flavor from green rooibos, rose, and lemongrass. This is such a well-balanced blend that I don’t even feel the need for sweetener.
The recommended time to drink a sleep-inducing cup of tea is about 30 minutes before bed. Remember that you’ll need about 10 minutes to prep and steep your tea.
A Bedtime Ritual
If you have problems sleeping as I do, you can’t underestimate the power of a bedtime ritual. I fight going to bed like a little kid; I’d never get there without a ritual that tells my brain and body that it’s almost bedtime.
A bedtime ritual is as simple as combining several micro-habits, such as a lavender-infused bath followed by a snuggly cup of your favorite sleepy-time tea and reading for a while in your own comfortable bed. I like to play a fireplace or rainstorm video on my TV while I’m reading to enhance the ambiance and make things extra cozy for myself.
What are the things that make you feel cozy and comfortable before bed? Take this last hour of your day and make it something that you look forward to every night and you’ll be well on your way to sweet dreams.