If your morning caffeine craving is the main reason you get out of bed, you already know how much of an impact a warm cup of coffee or tea in your hands can have on your well-being when incorporated into your routine.
Watching the sun rise (or, okay, let’s be real, watching last night’s episode of This Is Us) with your trusty hot beverage by your side is a great way to kick-start your morning, but this is a practice that doesn’t just have to be relegated to the first few hours of your day. Drinking certain teas before bed can have a major impact on your health and your quality of sleep. So, break out your favorite mug, put a pot of water on to boil, and let’s take a look at the best teas to add to your bedtime routine to sleep soundly tonight.
Brewing Up Benefits
There are several varieties of tea you’ve probably heard of, but did you know that all “true” teas come from the same plant? Camellia sinensis grows primarily in Southeast Asia and its leaves are processed in a variety of ways to bring us black, green, white, oolong, and pu-erh teas. These teas are packed with antioxidants and l-theanine to provide a natural boost of energy and help support your immune system. Herbal teas, or tisanes, are actually not derived from the tea plant but are made with fruits, flowers, roots, and spices from other plants.
“True” tea or not, this warm beverage can have a myriad of health benefits and the process of making and drinking tea is both relaxing and downright delicious. Tea making can be a meditative process–waiting for the water to boil, gently steeping your chosen tea blend, waiting for the flavors to infuse fully–every step requires patience and precision.
Inhaling the steam off a mug of tea and filling your belly with warm liquid in the evening can actually have a similar effect to taking a relaxing pre-bed bath or shower. Our bodies have a natural regulatory sleep cycle (circadian rhythm), which is primarily controlled by internal body temperature. When you sleep, your body temperature drops to conserve energy. Heating your skin or core gently a few hours before bed can help to kick start the cool-down process and actively make you feel sleepy.
In its natural state, tea actually contains more caffeine than coffee. Through processing and dilution, however, a cup of tea usually ends up containing about half the caffeine that your morning cup of joe does. Before bed, though, you probably want to avoid a caffeine kick, so opting for an herbal tea or a decaf blend is the way to go. Below you can read about a few ingredients that are common in sleep tea blends, or can be brewed by themselves to reap several health benefits and induce better sleep.
This popular floral tea has a light and crisp vaguely fruity flavor. Its calming properties have made it a staple pre-bed tea, and for good reason. The antioxidants present in chamomile are purported to help reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, and increase serotonin and melatonin levels, which help alleviate stress and bring about sleep. Chamomile’s antioxidants may also help to open blood vessels, making it an exceptional choice for those looking for headache or migraine pain relief.
Not just for body lotions anymore, lavender has a myriad of calming properties. Inhaling the sweet scent of lavender has been linked to increased sleep duration and a higher concentration of REM sleep waves. It also helps to improve mood, decrease stress, and is a common natural remedy for anxiety and depression symptoms. When brewed into a tea, lavender tastes floral and mildly sweet with a faint smoky finish.
Cool and refreshing peppermint is a great option for anyone who is kept awake by gastrointestinal issues. The menthol present in peppermint induces bile production in the stomach which aids in efficient digestion and reduces bloating and discomfort. It also has antibacterial properties that, when consumed regularly, can quash bad breath causing bacteria. Drinking peppermint tea before bed or after meals means you might be able to keep that morning dragon breath at bay.
4) Lemon Balm
This member of the mint family has been used to treat insomnia for hundreds of years. By increasing the levels of the amino acid GABA and lowering cortisol levels in the brain, lemon balm provides a calming effect that can boost mood and relieve stress without decreasing cognitive acuity. The flavor of lemon balm is a refreshing and invigorating balance of mint and citrus which helps to soothe restless minds and relax sore muscles.
5) Valerian Root
This herb is a potent addition to any sleep tea. Valerian actually has mild sedative properties and has been used as an alternative for over the counter sleep aids and anxiety medications for decades. In fact, during WWII, Valerian grew in popularity among British tea drinkers whose nerves were on edge from the constant threat of air raids. Your life does not have to be threatened to enjoy the calming benefits of this earthy and aromatic tea, but Valerian should be used sparingly as it is possible to form an addiction to the powerful brew.
A common remedy for nausea and a staple of Ayurvedic medicine, ginger has a variety of health benefits. Whether it is consumed by brewing a sweet and spicy tea, cooked into a variety of cuisines or just chewed on in its raw form, ginger is a dynamic digestive health aid. It enhances the fat burning process of thermogenesis, can ease stomach pain and curbs feelings of hunger, making it a great substitute for your late night snack cravings.
If you have a sweet tooth that hits late at night, instead of reaching for a glass of wine or a handful of skittles, both of which can negatively impact your sleep, try a sweet and tangy cup of naturally decaffeinated hibiscus tea. Made from the colorful petals of the hibiscus flower, this tea is rich in free-radical fighting antioxidants and minerals which can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of heart disease, liver disease, high cholesterol, and even certain cancers.
8) Passion Flower
When brewed, this floral tea has a light lilac color and tastes vegetal and grassy with a mild sweetness. With a little bit of honey, it is a light and refreshing drink with abundant benefits. Passion flower contains the flavone chrysin which directly impacts neurotransmitters to boost sleepiness and soothe anxiety. If you are kept awake by restless or anxious thoughts, passion flower has been proven to have similar effects as OTC drugs like Midazolam and Ambien
9) Rose/ Rose Hips
Whether you use the petals or the buds of this thorny flower garden favorite, you’ll experience countless health benefits. Rose hips offer a tart and sweetly fragrant flavor while their petals tend to impart more of a perfumy floral aroma. This plant is chock full of vitamins A and C which have immune boosting and anti-inflammatory effects. Rose can bolster your digestive system and your heart health while also helping prevent rheumatoid arthritis and other painful ailments. Additionally, rose petals can have a slightly hypnotic and sedative effect, helping you drift off to sleep more easily.
Though sometimes called red tea, rooibos is made from the long needle-like leaves of the African Rooibos bush, and bears no relation to “true” tea. Still, this non-caffeinated tisane bears a nutty and earthy flavor profile that places it somewhere between black and green tea. In addition to vitamin C and antioxidants commonly found in teas, rooibos also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and alpha hydroxyl acid. Its benefits range from increasing bone strength to boosting liver health to improving the appearance of skin, among many others. If you aren’t a fan of floral or fragrant teas, preferring a bit more spice and umami, rooibos is a great option for your bedtime tea. Rooibos compliments most spices really nicely, so we recommend trying a caffeine free rooibos masala chai or ginger turmeric blend to ease into the realm of rooibos.
Drinking a ‘cuppa before you brush your teeth can help to significantly curb insomnia and other sleep issues while also providing some power house health benefits. This list is by no means exhaustive, but should be a good place to start when looking for the perfect before-bed tea blend for you. If you are still having issues sleeping, there might be something else impacting your sleep. Whether that is an old mattress or a busted thermostat, we have information available to help you sleep right and sleep tight.