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Chamomile Tea for Sleep: Does It Work?

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Persistent insomnia is a solid reason to seek help in the sleep department. Your quest for the best sleep remedy may have you scouring the edges of the internet — or at least your local pharmacy.

People who have trouble sleeping but prefer to avoid potentially addictive substances may prefer natural sleep aids as opposed to medications. Nighttime tea has long had a reputation as a natural way to help people fall asleep, one of those being chamomile tea.

So, does chamomile tea make you sleepy? In this guide, we’ll solve the riddle to determine if this tea will really help you sleep or if it’s just another old wives tale.

How Does Chamomile Tea Work?

The chamomile flower extract that’s used to make the brew contains a chemical compound called apigenin, and it’s believed that its sleep-promoting effects may be linked to apigenin binding to different receptors in the brain1 like benzodiazepine and GABA, which are known to decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.

Benefits of Chamomile Tea for Sleep and Anxiety

Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Our mind and body needs time to wind down before sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic2, stress due to life concerns like work or family is one common cause of insomnia. While it is tempting to go on your computer, watch television, or scroll through Instagram, staring at screens may keep you up at night because the blue light from these devices can make you feel more alert3.

Drinking tea is a better alternative that could be a great addition to your nightly routine. This is because the process of making tea is relaxing and the aromas the tea gives off could help calm you from a busy day and better prepare you for sleep.

The Heat Makes You Sleepy

Drinking a hot beverage like chamomile tea can also be helpful because heat is known to make people feel sleepy. Heat can make us feel tired for several reasons.

When you feel nice and warm, this can create a drop in blood pressure4, which may make you feel tired. This is because our blood pressure is also low when we’re asleep.

The body has a natural blood pressure cycle5 in which it rises in the morning, reaches its peak mid-afternoon, and begins to fall back down during the evening. A warm tea could help that process if you still feel more energetic during the evenings.

May Alleviate Stress and Anxiety

As previously discussed, this flower extract has a compound that is known to bind to brain receptors that calm people down.1 Anxiety and stress can lead to insomnia, so there’s a possibility that this herbal tea can aid with both.

Could Aid Digestion

If indigestion is keeping you up at night, a cup of warm chamomile tea might do the trick. According to research, this tea has been used to not only treat indigestion, but also symptoms like flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.1

Want to know more? Check out our best sleep tea guide here.

Chamomile Tea Side Effects

While there are potential benefits to drinking this beverage, you should also be aware of any possible side effects. Though uncommon, potential side effects associated with chamomile include nausea, dizziness, and allergic reactions6.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, people are more likely to be allergic to chamomile if they’re already allergic to similar plants like ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies.6

Research on whether chamomile is safe to take long-term or while pregnant or breastfeeding is not fully known.6

As with any sleep aid, we advise checking with your healthcare provider first, especially if you are taking other medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have other health complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does chamomile make you tired?

In a 2011 study7, researchers tried to determine whether this herb helped participants with insomnia. They found that the extract helped slightly with daytime functioning but had mixed results on sleep quality, adding “further studies in select insomnia patients would be needed to investigate these conclusions.”

Some more recent research from 2017 examined sleep quality in elderly patients who took chamomile capsules8. They found significant improvements in sleep quality for those who took the capsules.8

Is chamomile tea safe to drink it every night?

Chamomile tea is generally considered a safe product, as long as you don’t experience any adverse side effects. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to check with your healthcare provider before adding any sleep aids to your routine, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking other medications, or have other health conditions.

How long should chamomile tea steep?

You should steep your drink for at least three minutes before removing the bag. This allows enough time for the flavors and compounds to be extracted. For loose leaf tea, place 1 teaspoon into an infuser, then put the infuser into your mug. After that, pour in boiling water. Steep for three minutes and then remove the infuser.

Jill Zwarensteyn

Editor

About Author

Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Combination Sleeper

References:

  1. Srivastava, Janmejai K ., Shankar, Eswar., Gupta, Sanjay. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future”. National Library of Medicine. 2010.
  2. “Insomnia”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified October 15, 2016.
  3. “Blue light has a dark side”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.
  4. “Is Hot Weather Dangerous for People with High Blood Pressure?”. Hackensack Meridian Health. 2020.
  5. Lopez-Jimenez MD, Francisco. “Blood pressure: Does it have a daily pattern?”. 2022.
  6. “Chamomile”. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Last modified May 2020.
  7. Zick, Suzanna M., et al. “Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: A randomized placebo-controlled pilot study”. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2011.
  8. Adib-Hajbaghery, Mohsen., Nesa Mousavi, Seyedeh. “The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial”. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2017.