Help with finding calm, and personal time before bed.
Can herbal tea really help you sleep?
Up until the last couple of decades, there was a lack of scientific evidence to support this traditional use of medicinal plants. However, in recent years, there have been numerous research studies showing promising results.
Chamomile is a common ingredient in sleep tea, and there’s mounting evidence that it helps with anxiety. There’s no conclusive proof that it works as a sleep aid though. But perhaps by helping with anxiety, it indirectly helps some people sleep better.
The effectiveness of Valerian, also found in many teas, for now remains inconclusive. Some studies show it does help with sleep and anxiety, but others find it doesn’t or that a placebo does just as well. Despite that, there’s enough evidence that many researchers feel it needs to be studied more.
Lavender has growing evidence that it can help with sleep when inhaled. Studies have shown that inhaling it before going to bed improves sleep quality and reduces the number of nightly waking’s. Again though, researchers feel more work needs to be done before concluding that it works as a sleep aid.
The evidence for most other plants used in tea for relaxation and sleep is less established. But it’s encouraging to know that some have been shown to have a real sedative effect.
For me, drinking herbal tea is a valuable part of my bedtime routine; taking time out to sit and wait, for just the right amount of time as your tea steeps, is the start of bedtime. The moment when you have made the decision to relax while drinking tea helps me transition from the busy daytime to the calmer night-time.
So perhaps the combination of a mild sedative effect and a personal decision to mentally relax is all it takes sometimes.
Our good friends at Atkinsons, have given us details of their best sleep inducing and relaxing teas, which I hope you will enjoy looking at. Particular favorites at Feather & Springs and Atkinsons are their Chinese Rose Petal , Good night tisane and of course, Chamomile Flower tea.
The plants and herbs that help you sleep
In terms of popularity, chamomile is arguably the superstar of teas for sleep and relaxation in general. The evidence for its sedative effect is strongest for anxiety, but it crops up time and time again in sleep teas and herbal remedies. If you enjoy making remedies yourself, it’s easy to make by drying out the flowers and steeping them.
Valerian is one of the few plants which have been shown by researchers to have sedative properties, even if the same result isn’t always found in tests. 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.
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.
4. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is widely believed to help with anxiety, stress and insomnia, and is often included in brands of teas created to help with sleep. Some research studies have found it helps with insomnia when combined with other plants, such as valerian and chamomile.
Peppermint is often associated with providing energy and helping stomach problems but is also sometimes included in teas for sleep and relaxation. It’s thought to help calm your internal systems, and with that your mind, so it might a good choice if you’ve eaten a little too much, and indigestion is keeping you awake.
You might associate lemongrass more with Asian food – it’s a favourite of mine when making Thai curry! But it’s also used for medicinal purposes, including to help reduce anxiety, restlessness, menstrual cramps and insomnia.
Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is one of the most important herbs in India, where it’s considered a sacred plant. It’s also widely used in Ayurveda medicine, including digestion, headaches, stress relief, depression and insomnia. It’s advised that pregnant or nursing women avoid using it though.