While nightcaps like alcoholic beverages or a warm glass of milk have some sleep-promoting properties, sleep teas tend to be better for your overall sleep quality. Here are the best kinds of teas for lulling you into a dream state.
HOW SLEEP TEAS WORK
Herbal teas contain micronutrients such as magnesium and potassium, as well as a host of ingredients that encourage calmness and enhance feelings of sleepiness, certified sleep consultant and founder of Live Love Sleep Kaley Medina notes.
They can not only help lull you to sleep, but they will also help you stay asleep, unlike something like brandy or whiskey that can disrupt your sleep by increasing neural excitement once the alcohol wears off, she says.
You want to stick with herbal brews that are void of caffeine (which would have the opposite effect) and that ideally contain herbs in their whole (not powdered) form. This will ensure its ingredients and nutrients can perform optimally.
To sip your way to ‘snoozeville,’ Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., aka The Sleep Doctor, says you also need to maintain proper sleep hygiene and a consistent sleep schedule. Sipping your sleep tea at a specific time can also help ensure the best results: One cup about 60 to 90 minutes before bed Breus says, is ideal.
It’s important to remember however, that just as a weighted blanket or playing meditative sounds won’t necessarily solve your sleep woes, drinking a cup of tea can’t guarantee a good night’s sleep either. Your cuppa should be paired with other healthy night time habits.
8 BEST TEAS FOR SLEEP
Getting from point A to point Zzz requires a specific kind of sleep tea. Here are the herbal blends that experts recommend sipping on nightly:
Among the most popular sleep tea ingredients is chamomile. But according to sleep expert Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., you’re better off skipping tea bags and going for Chamomile buds, which are what deliver results.
“For sleep, the key active component of chamomile is the flavonoid apigenin,” he says. This binds to GABA receptors in the brain and has a calming impact on the body, helping to reduce nerves and promote rest.
As far as this writer’s concerned, lavender is as good as a synonym for calm. While the purple flower is often used to scent pillow mists or aromatherapy creams, Medina lists the plant as a relaxing sip for those grappling with anxiousness before bed.
“Lavender flowers and leaves can deeply relax you and make you feel calm,” says Medina. This is because the plant’s active components have been shown to stimulate the GABA system, adds Teitelbaum. The result is a soothing cup to sip. You may also reap calming benefits from simply inhaling the sweet aroma.
3. Peppermint or mint
Peppermint sleep teas are also a popular choice, though Teitelbaum says the ingredient’s sleep-promoting effects have not been well demonstrated. Still, peppermint contains menthol, which has been shown to help soothe the stomach, as well as open up the respiratory tract, so this kind of herbal tea can still be worth a try at bedtime.
Valerian is a wild flowering plant known for its sedative properties. Medina affectionately defines it as a “stinky herb” that “relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus, colon, and bronchial passages.”
“I like to start low and then work my way up to a concentration that makes me feel sleepy. If you feel like your muscles are rubbery or heavy, then you have had too much,” Medina says. “Cut back the amount the next day and the feeling should pass fairly quickly. If you are agitated or restless, then stop using valerian and consider yourself the rare 10% that should not use this herb.”
Another popular purple flower known for its sleepytime properties is the passionflower, and according to Teitelbaum, it’s as bold in colour as it is effective at bedtime. “It’s been shown in research to be both calming and helpful for sleep by increasing GABA in the brain,” he says.
It may also increase the happy hormone serotonin, Teitelbaum adds, which induces sleep by acting as a precursor to the onset of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone.
Hot lemon water is commonly sipped first thing in the morning to fire up the digestive system, but lemon balm tea, which is made from the flowering herb not the citrus fruit, makes for a delicious and sleep-promoting tea at bedtime.
According to Medina, nettle leaves, seeds, and roots are rich in quality iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium. Together, these minerals can promote a healthy nervous system, therefore easing stress and anxiousness, which happen to be two very common sleep disrupters.
8. Magnolia Bark
If you need help falling asleep fast, try drinking a cup of magnolia bark tea before bed. Derived from the houpo magnolia tree, magnolia bark contains honokiol, a compound that binds GABA receptors in the brain, which Breus says helps to reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep.
From supplements for sleep to sleep masks, silk pajamas, and bedding, there is a myriad of products that can help you fall asleep by offering that extra bit of support. However the best thing about sleep teas are they are made of ingredients that work with your body to help you naturally fall and stay asleep through the night.