For centuries, teas have been one of the best herbal remedies for a wide range of maladies. Teas that are designed to help you sleep better are no exception. There are many fantastic kinds of calming bedtime teas available, and you want to know you're choosing one that's really going to work. Below, we've taken a look at why sleep teas are a great option for those who have problems winding down at night, and what best tea for sleep may be.
Why choose a herbal tea to help you sleep?
Tea can be used for many purposes; from helping you wake up in the morning to help your digestive system function better, tea is a dependable choice. Sleep tea can be a fantastic alternative to over the counter or prescription medications designed to knock you out. Sleep teas are gentle on your digestive and nervous systems and can be very good for your body overall. Nothing says calm and cozy like a warm relaxing and comforting mug of fragrant herbal tea.
How does sleep tea work?
Sleep tea is used to help you fall asleep easier and wake feeling calm and refreshed. It's usually made with herbal blends derived from natural ingredients that are well-known to induce a state of drowsiness, calmness or relaxation. Tea is also warm and filling, which helps the body to wind down.
Common Natural Ingredients to Induce Sleepiness
Passionflower was sold as an OTC sleep aid in the U.S. until 1978 when it was removed due to lack of testing on its usage and effectiveness. However, passionflower is still widely available as a sleep aid in capsules or in tea
Lavender (Lavandula) is another that's been used for hundreds of years to induce sleep. Now science is learning why — lavender increases slow-wave sleep when your heartbeat slows and your muscles relax. This is also the type of sleep during which your brain organizes your memory.
Valerian has become a very popular alternative to sleeping pills for people searching for a more natural way to fall asleep. It's especially useful for people with the inability to sleep (insomnia). Studies show it seems to acts like a sedative so it's good for people who have trouble sleeping due to stress or anxiety.
Licorice root has been shown to be able to both help induce sleep sleep and increase sleep's duration. If you have trouble waking up in the night, it might be worth trying a tea that contains this unique ingredient.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) has been used since the middle ages as an herbal sedative and way to ease into sleep. Modern studies attempt to figure out the exact mechanism of its anti-anxiety fighting powers with speculation that it's an pidenin, a flavonoid compound.
Kava-kava (Piper methysticum)has been used for generations in the South Pacific but has only recently come to the west. Several studies have found that it's particularly effective at relieving anxiety or stress — so if that's what prevents you from falling asleep, it's worth a try. Please note there are fears of it causing liver toxicity, so use caution if you have a history of liver problems.
Best Teas for Getting to Sleep and Staying Asleep
Below is a list of some of the best and most calming bedtime tea options available today.
Best Tasting Sleep Tea:
Yogi Tea, Bedtime Blend
What I like best about Yogi's Bedtime Blend is it's one that gets lost in blandness — sleep teas should also be enjoyable to drink! The deliciously sweet and spicy tea is ideal for inducing a state of calm coziness. You'll get a more restful night's sleep after warming your belly and tucking into bed with this soothing blend of organic chamomile, passionflower, cardamom, and licorice. Added valerian helps to soothe your nerves for a peaceful journey into dreamland.
Best Sleep Tea for Your Immune System:
Organic India Tulsi Wellness Sleep Tea
Tulsi Sleep Tea not only aides in creating a restful state of drowsiness, it supports your immune system. The body is most prone to receiving critical nutrients when it's at rest, and this tea truly delivers. It will help you wake refreshed, well rested, and ready to conquer the day. This is a great one to take in the winter months when your immune system is constantly under attack and you want to give it a boost.
Best Sleep Tea for Weight Control:
Afterglow Sleep Tea
Calming botanicals help to soothe both the mind and body in this masterfully contrived blend. Not only will this tea assist you in getting better sleep, it's designed to boost your immune system and help you to maintain a healthier weight. With trusted and true ingredients like St. John's Wort, valerian root, and chamomile, Afterglow Sleep Tea is a great sleep tea to try, especially if you want to lose or maintain your weight.
Best for Pure Valerian:
Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Tea
Simplicity is sometimes the best method. You can trust that you are getting an all-natural tea with only the ingredients that you really need. Traditional and time trusted, this brand of herbal tea is designed to help you relax and sleep uninterrupted, plain and simple. If you know Valerian is what works for you — try Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Tea.
Best Kava-Kava / St. Valerian Mix:
BE SLEEPY Relaxing Bedtime Tea
Scientific advancement meets natural remedy with this innovative and soothing tea. Calm your mind and relax your body with the potent herbal blend of valerian and kava-kava. It tastes delicious and will help you drift off peacefully night after night. Be Sleepy by Tea Tonix also organic and sourced from fresh, organic ingredients.
Best Chamomile & Lavender:
Bigelow Benefits Sleep Chamomile & Lavender Herbal Tea
Chamomile and lavender are two very traditional methods to getting a better night's sleep. In this tea, they're paired together to build on each other. Lavender's strong scent helps you relax and unwind while chamomile has been used as a mild sedative since the middle ages. If you like the classics, try this Bigelow's Sleep Chamomile and Lavender tea.
Best Passion Flower - Lemon:
Gaia Herbs Sleep and Relax Herbal Tea
Nervousness, agitation, stress and exhaustion are no combination to try and sleep with. This tea does a fantastic job of eliminating it all. Feel relaxed and calm — Gaia Herbs Sleep and Relax Tea takes a different set of ingredients from many others with a focus on passionflower, licorice and lemon. If you've tried other sleep teas and find they haven't been effective, try this one. Its alternative approach might be what you need.
Best Natural Mix:
Hey Girl, It's Bedtime Sleep Tea
First of all, this tea definitely has the cutest packaging so if you're buying a gift for an insomniac designer, definitely get this one. The Hey Girl Bedtime Sleep Tea does a great job of throwing all the popular ingredients into the mix: Passion Flower, Chamomile Flower, Lemon Balm, Orange Peel, Stevia Leaf, Valerian Root Extract, even Catnip — and still makes it taste good. Pricier than some of the alternatives but worth giving it a try.
Best for Pure Coziness:
Yogi Bedtime Herbal Tea Caffeine Free Soothing Caramel
Yogi's Bedtime Herbal Caramel Tea is recommended as a sleep hack by Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame so that was enough to get me curious. The scent makes it a perfect fit for the fall and winter when you want something especially cozy and warm. It's also a great one if your throat is a bit scratchy and you want something soothing but non-medicinal.
Best for Licorice Lovers:
The Republic of Tea, Get Some Zzz’s – No. 5 Rest Herb Tea
The Republic of Tea’s Get Some Zzz’s – No. 5 Rest Herb Tea definitely has a strong licorice taste so whether you love it or hate it will probably be based on your feelings about licorice. While I find it has a lighter sleep-inducing effect than other teas, it's still very enjoyable when you just want to unwind. Personally I find it has a nice, pleasant after-dinner sweetness that makes it (almost) feel like dessert. Like all Republic of Tea’s products — great packaging and high-quality product.
Best Sleep Sampler for Beginners:
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea Variety Pack
We can't leave out this classic sleep tea sampler from Celestial Seasonings. This sleepytime tea variety pack is loaded with delicious sleep-inducing teas in a variety of fun and wonderful flavors. Vanilla, honey, peach, and the traditional herbal blend offer you a myriad of fun options to help you find the soothing and comfortable sleep you've been searching for. This is a great place to start if you're not sure what ingredients will work best for you. Plus the illustrations are adorable.