Are you looking for a natural way to fall asleep faster? If Ambien freaks you out (the stories of people getting in their cars fast asleep while on the medication are scary), and you’d rather not swallow a supplement every night, your best bet at bedtime might be a piping hot cup of herbal tea.
You can curl up on the sofa or in bed with a book and a blanket and enter dreamland in time. So, which are the best teas for sleep?
In this article, I outline all the herbs you’ll find on store shelves, and I even include some DIY recipes you can try at home.
Benefits of Tea Before Bedtime
Herbal teas have a variety of benefits other than just being relaxing. Herbs have been a natural way of treating a variety of ailments for thousands of years.
For example, lemon and peppermint ease digestion, and cinnamon’s potent blend of antioxidants is known to help control bad cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and even eliminate gas! I could go on about cinnamon, but I’ll save it for an upcoming section.
There’s some evidence that our ability to absorb nutrients increases as we sleep, so if you opt for an herbal tea with nutritional properties, your body may get some added benefits.
If you’re drinking it at night, avoid putting sugar in it. The extra calories right before bed will sabotage your weight goals, and the stimulating effect of sugar could end up keeping you up later.
Our 11 Top Sleep Teas You Can Try Now
When we tend to think of relaxing or calming teas, chamomile is the type that most often comes to mind. Most brands of bedtime flavors use chamomile either by itself or in conjunction with other herbs.
If you’re into DIY, this is an easy recipe to make. All you have to do is dry out some of these flowers (they look like daisies) and brew them with hot water.
This ingredient has been taking the world by storm. Turmeric contains a high amount of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant that helps with detox, anti-aging and even cancer. Turmeric is also known to induce sleep, which is why it made the list.
Watch out with valerian as this herb is actually proven to contain sedative properties. It may take time to build in your system, so don’t except a narcoleptic incident with your first cup.
It may seem like valerian root is a newer phenomenon, but people have been using it for centuries to aid sleep and minimize anxiety. You can get valerian root in teas as well as natural supplements that serve as sleep aids.
Lemon balm on its own doesn’t have any compelling evidence supporting its ability to help you at bedtime. But, it is known to help indigestion and anxiety, both of which can affect your sleep. It’s often combined with chamomile and valerian for an ultimate cup of snooze.
Have you ever heard of banana tea? I hadn’t either until a couple of years ago. It helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. My friends who have tried this swear that it’s the most powerful sleep aid they’ve ever tried. Bananas have potassium and magnesium, which help relax your muscles and blood vessels. And because of that, it will promote sleep.
Want to try it? Scroll down for my recipe!
Lavender is another popular sleep aid in the essential oil industry, and it also used to aid in sleep, relaxation and stress relief. There are some reports that drinking lavender tea not only helps you fall asleep at bedtime, it can also ensure that you stay asleep and get a more restful night of slumber.
While some people report that ginger has stimulating properties that keep them awake, others love consuming ginger tea at bedtime. Ginger is known to aid in digestion and relieve nausea. If a tummy ache is keeping you awake, a mug full of ginger root may be just what you need.
The benefits of cinnamon tea are impressive, not just for sleeping. It’s been shown to regulate blood sugar, promote weight loss, lower cholesterol, boost your immune system, prevent disease, improve digestion, boost brain function, reduce inflammation, and, my personal favorite, reduce menstrual cramps.
If it’s that special time of the month, I generally have a hard time getting comfortable and falling asleep. I turn to cinnamon to relieve my cramps and help me fall asleep faster.
Before you ditch your regular evening rituals, note that cinnamon tea comes with potential side effects. In high doses, it can cause liver failure, due to an ingredient in cinnamon called coumarin. You can likely get away with at least a few cups per day with no concerns, but this is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re consuming varieties like Cassia, Korintje, and Saigon.
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort tea was my standby in college when I was stressed out about an exam. It’s known primarily as an antidepressant and is helpful in reducing anxiety. Since both of those conditions affect your sleep, it’s no wonder that people turn so frequently to this herb for sleeping assistance.
A note of caution: this herb can interact with certain medications. It also increases sun sensitivity.
Peppermint does double duty as a stimulant or a relaxation aid, depending mostly on your intention. Because it helps with digestion and headaches, you may want to reach for peppermint when you’ve got a tummy ache or a migraine.
The field of Chinese medicine tends to take a holistic approach and notes that certain combinations of herbs will affect the way your body and organs function. If you’re having problems with your gallbladder, for example, you might select specific herbs that help with that organ’s function. Once you clear up those issues, you’ll be able to sleep more soundly.
Tea Recipes for Better Sleep
There are a few store-bought brands that I adore and purchase frequently, but I also like to switch things up and make my own recipes. It’s nice to know exactly how fresh my ingredients are and where they came from, too.
It takes almost zero effort to make your own. Here are my top 5 recipes that you won’t find in any store:
Cinnamon Tea Recipe
This is one of the easiest things you’ll ever make. All you have to do is boil a cinnamon stick in water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then steep it in a cup of hot water (bonus points if you’re using a cute cup) for 10 minutes. If you want the flavor to be extra strong, you can add a few minutes to this guideline.
Turmeric Tea Recipe
This recipe has several ingredients, but it is so delicious and good for you!
Here’s what you need:
- 1-2 tspoons of turmeric (add more if you prefer it stronger)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tspoon cinnamon
- ½ tspoon nutmeg
- Pinch of clove
- 1 tbspoon honey
Instructions: Simmer all the herbs and spices in your water. Once they’ve seeped, strain the herbs and spices. Add honey and stir. Enjoy this awesome bedtime drink!
Banana Tea Recipe
All you need is one raw banana and some water. If you want to be fancy, add an optional sprinkle of cinnamon.
To make it, cut off both ends of the banana, but don’t peel it! Place the entire banana with the peel still attached in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, strain the concoction and drink it one hour before bed.
Garlic Tea Recipe
If you have a cold that’s keeping you awake, this garlic tea recipe will help you sleep while also accelerating your recovery time. Be careful if you sleep with a partner or plan on being in a crowded place the next day. The garlic will seep out of your pores. Great for avoiding vampires, not so great for date night.
To make this beverage, bring 3 cups of water and 3 halved garlic cloves to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add ½ cup of honey and ½ cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain and sip. You can put leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy it the next day as well.
“Sleepy Tea” Recipe
This tea has some harder to find ingredients, but if you’ve got a grumpy child or you’re feeling like biting someone’s head off, you’ll appreciate this soothing blend.
Here are the ingredients:
- 1 tbspoon dried lemon balm
- 2 tspoons dried peppermint
- 1 tspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tspoon dried rose petals
- 1 tspoon dried lavender flowers
- 2 slices dried licorice root
- honey to taste
- optional heavy cream, milk or dairy free almond milk
Put water in a kettle or a pot on the stove to boil. While waiting for the boiling point, use a mortar and crush the herbs and spices. Pour the boiling water over the herbs and spice. Steep for three to five minutes. After that, strain and serve. Add honey and cream to taste.
Pros and Cons
The benefits of green and herbal teas are well documented. From antioxidants to vitamins and nutrients, studies abound about the benefits of consumption.
As we gather more data and learn more about the effects of it on our bodies, functional blends are becoming more popular. In addition to brands that promote sleep, there are also varieties for detox, weight loss, skin health, cramps, and just about any condition imaginable.
My recommendation, especially before bedtime, is to consume herbal, caffeine-free options and avoid adding sugar or sugar substitutes.
The studies show mixed results about potential cons of consuming tea, especially before bed. There are certain people who may experience health issues in people who have an increased risk for iron deficiencies. This is because some varieties can affect iron absorption.
Also, if you’re buying tea that’s not organic, I’d be mindful of the fact that you’re drinking pesticides in chemicals. Some say that everything in moderation is tolerable, but in today’s world of ever-increasing toxins, I recommend choosing organic when possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does drinking it calm people with anxiety and depression?
No matter what type of decaffeinated tea you choose, there is evidence that supports the fact that drinking tea will help calm those suffering from anxiety in depression.
There are three reasons why this is the case:
- Routine – Having a daily routine naturally calms your nerves. It’s predictable and something you can control. It especially helps if you combine this activity with something enjoyable like reading a book or chatting with a loved one.
- Slow Down – Since you can’t easily run around the block or vacuum the living room with a piping hot cup of liquid in your hand, by drinking tea you force yourself to take a break. By it’s very nature, this activity is calming.
- Hydration – Not many people know that dehydration increases anxiety. By consuming more water, even in the form of tea, you can ease anxiety and depression symptoms.
Can it relieve stress?
Yes, absolutely! Similar to the calming effects that tea has on people suffering from anxiety and depression, the ritualistic nature of making and enjoying a cup or two will help your stress levels as well.
It’s been documented that sitting down to have a cup of tea signals the end of a stressful period or activity, which also helps. Also surprising is that people report that having the beverage made for them also reduces stress because it causes them to feel nurtured and cared for.
Can it help solve insomnia?
Yes. In addition to the ritual of drinking tea inspiring feelings of drowsiness, there are a number of herbs that help promote sleep. The strongest and most documented is valerian root, though other herbs like chamomile and lavender will also help with insomnia.
How does it help you snooze better?
While there’s no concrete evidence that drinking tea before bed will help you sleep better, there are too many reports of people finding success falling asleep after drinking it that it’s hard to ignore the theory.
We think it might have to do with the fact that drinking this warm beverage is relaxing, and it can be a part of a ritual that prepares your body for sleep. For example, if you’ve had a stressful day and need to wind down, you might find that cozying up on the sofa with a cup of something hot is soothing.
When it comes time for bed, you’ll likely discover that you fall asleep faster. If you string enough of those evenings together, you’ve now trained yourself to snooze better after a cup of tea.
Tea is a wonderfully delicious beverage that can be enjoyed day or night. As a long time coffee drinker, I’ve found that switching to tea, especially in the afternoons and evenings, helps me cope with the day, eases my tummy and puts me right to sleep.
Have you had any life-changing experiences by drinking this elixir?
- The Best and Worst Sleep Positions for Different Medical Problems [Infographic]
- 48 Sleep Life Hacks – How to Get the Best Sleep Every Night!
- 11 Best Sleep Inducing Houseplants for Your Bedroom
- Reduced Stress and Improved Sleep Quality Caused by Green Tea Are Associated with a Reduced Caffeine Content – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537891/
- Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17145239
Author: Sarah Cummings
I think we’re all nerds, but I’m probably the biggest nerd in the group. Put me nose deep in a spreadsheet and I'll start smiling.
I love to travel, hang out with positive people, and love cycling when I find the time!
My hope is that everyone who visits our site will walk away with a fresh perspective. I think too many people in society downplay the importance of sleep. In my opinion, it’s the difference between an average life and an amazing one.