When you’ve been on your feet all day, have just finished tackling a really arduous work project, or just need a break, do you find yourself reaching for a cup of tea?
Sometimes just the thought of a warm, comforting cup of tea is enough to help us relax. So, it’s no wonder that a cup of tea is often the trick to falling asleep.
Whether it’s an aromatic jasmine green tea (yes, tea with caffeine before bed!) or a sunny yellow chamomile tisane, tea is a fantastic home remedy to help you slip into a long, peaceful and restful sleep.
Tea Before Bed – Is It Wise?
Really, it depends on the type of tea! The main problem with drinking tea before bed is the caffeine, which can keep you awake and alert, disturbing your sleep patterns. But you also need to remember that tea contains l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes, calm and relaxed feelings. L-theanine blocks stress, so if you can’t sleep from anxiety or worries on your mind, l-theanine can help.
A low caffeine tea, like green tea, contains as little as 10 mg of caffeine per cup. This would provide you with enough l-theanine to relax your mind ready for bed without keeping you wide awake with a large amount of caffeine.
Benefits of Tea for Sleep
Putting aside the l-theanine and caffeine that you’ll find in teas from the camellia sinensis plant, drinking tea before bed has several great benefits:
- A warm drink is very comforting and soothing before bed.
- The warmth of the tea spreads to your extremities, helping you stay warm at night in the winter.
- It hydrates your body, helping if you can’t sleep because of a headache.
- The process of making a cup of tea is therapeutic and maybe just what you need to take worries and stress off your mind.
Milk and honey also have great benefits for the sleep-deprived. The calcium in milk soothes stress and the amino acids it contains promote serotonin production in your brain, making you feel relaxed and drowsy. Honey can help your brain function a little better during the night too, as it provides extra energy – just don’t go over the top!
And of course, there are many herbal teas that can help you sleep better with antioxidants and nutrients blocking stress, relaxing your muscles and making you feel drowsy and ready for sleep.
The Best Tea That Helps You Sleep!
When you’re looking for a tea that helps you sleep, you need to keep an eye out for the caffeine levels and the ingredients listed. Even if a tea is herbal and caffeine-free, it can still keep you up at night if you’re not careful.
The trick with these teas below is to brew them gently, lightly and sip them when they’re just at drinking temperature. Don’t hesitate to add a drop of milk or honey, this is not the time to worry about your waistline, all you need to be concerned with is how to get a good night’s sleep!
Sleepy time or dream time teas often contain many of the herbs listed below. You might find it’s cheaper to blend your own sleepytime tea from fresh herbs – this is a good way to avoid added sugar too.
More: Caffeine Free Tea
Green tea is one of the best tea types for sleep as it is low in caffeine but contains a high amount of l-theanine. You might think the very light, mellow flavor of white tea is best for sleep, but the buds, tips and new shoots used for white tea can be very high in caffeine.
We prefer a Chinese green tea before bed as the warm, golden and almost roasted and nutty notes you can get from a Chinese tea are gentler on your taste buds and stomach compared to Japanese green tea. The grassy, astringent and fresh flavor of Japanese green tea is more invigorating than relaxing!
Brew your green tea gently at 80°C for a light infusion. Try jasmine green tea for an extra relaxing, floral flavor.
Decaf Black Tea
It might surprise you to know that decaf black tea contains some caffeine, albeit only a milligram or two. Decaf tea is the same as regular tea, except the leaves have been decaffeinated to remove the majority of the caffeine. This can really help you sleep as black tea is typically a warming, comforting drink consumed with milk (hot milk is great for helping you sleep) and sugar. With decaf black tea, you have comfort without the energy boost.
You can brew decaf black tea exactly how you would caffeinated black tea, brewing the teabag or 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf in freshly boiled water.
Masala chai does contain black tea – the caffeine-rich kind rather than the decaf kind – but it’s still good for sleep. It combines rich, hot milk with black tea and warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and anise. These spices are often associated with Christmas and promote feelings of calmness. As masala chai is typically has a low black tea to milk ratio, it tends to not contain as much caffeine.
You can make your own masala chai at home by heating milk, spices and black tea on the stove, or find masala chai tea bags.
Just watch out of chai blends containing a large amount of ginger – we’ll cover why below.
Chamomile tea is made from the flowers of the chamomile plant. They look a lot like daisies. You can use 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers, 1 chamomile tea bag, or several teaspoons of the fresh flowers and buds to make a cup of chamomile tea. It has a mellow, honey and damp hay flavor that goes wonderfully with a drop of runny honey.
This floral infusion is rich in apigenin, an antioxidant that acts like a very very mild tranquilizer! If you’ve never had chamomile before and you brew the tea strongly, you might find yourself drifting off to sleep very quickly.
Spearmint not only reduces feelings of anxiety to help you sleep, but it also aids digestion. So, if you’re struggling to sleep after a large meal or are feeling cramps starting to happen in your stomach, a warm cup of spearmint tea could help.
Unlike peppermint, spearmint contains a small amount of menthol and is quite sweet and warm. It’s comforting and refreshing without keeping you awake with that fresh feeling in your mouth. Spearmint tea is easy to find at supermarkets in tea bags, or you can infuse a handful of fresh spearmint leaves in boiling water.
Even though peppermint is high in menthol, it’s still a good tea to help you sleep! If you’ve already brushed your teeth and enjoy the minty feeling, peppermint tea can prolong that. It’s also good if you’re struggling to sleep in a hot room – iced peppermint tea is very cooling and soothing. Furthermore, peppermint tea is good for a sore throat and any other irritation that’s keeping you up at night.
The menthol has a numbing effect which could help you drift off to sleep. Brew peppermint tea in the same way as spearmint tea, either using a tea bag or a handful of fresh peppermint leaves.
Yes, you read that right. Banana tea is not only a real thing, but it’s also a very effective sleep remedy! To make banana tea, use the peel which is rich in magnesium, potassium and amino acids to relax your muscles ready for rest. The amino acids can also boost levels of serotonin and melatonin in your brain, helping you to fall asleep.
Boil the banana peel in water for approximately 8 minutes. It goes well with a drop of honey or vanilla! Don’t forget to save the banana fruit too – cut it into chunks and put it in the freezer if you don’t feel like eating it late at night, for a smoothie the next day.
Valerian tea is made from the root of the valerian plant, just like ginger. It’s not so easy to get your hands on, however, so you’re better off searching for valerian tea bags. This root works similarly to chamomile tea, with tranquilizing effects to help you fall asleep quickly and deeply.
Brew 1 teaspoon of dried valerian root or 1 tea bag in boiling water for 5 minutes. It tastes herby, woodsy and earthy. It’s not unlike thyme, lavender stalks, rosemary, and other hardy and woody herbs. It’s quite a distinct flavor so you might want to add a good teaspoon or two of honey.
Passionflower is an unusual one. While many of our sleep teas focus on helping you get to sleep, passionflower tea helps improve the quality of your sleep instead. If you’re always waking up as tired as when you went to bed, passionflower tea could be the answer.
It makes you feel a little drowsy and soothes anxiety while you sleep so you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day.
To make passionflower tea, steep 1 teaspoon of dried flowers, 1 tea bag or 1 tablespoon of fresh flowers (chopped) in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm has calming, soothing effects and is great for soothing anxiety and stress that’s keeping you up at night. It could also improve the quality of your sleep, making it more restful and restoring. Lemon balm has an herby, lemony flavor much like the lemon citrus fruit peel but without the sharp acidity and tartness. It’s very nice with a drop of honey.
Make lemon balm tea with dried lemon balm leaves. Submerge them in boiling water for 10 minutes. If the leaves are large, chop them before making the tea to help the oils extract better.
Lavender reduces stress and anxiety, helping to relax your mind ready for bed. The flowers and buds have a delicate, floral flavor while the lavender stalks have a more woodsy, herby flavor like rosemary.
The relaxing aroma in tea or even hot water bottles can soothe you to sleep. Brew the flowers in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes. Don’t over brew, as too much lavender can taste like soap!
Teas to AVOID Before Bed
You might think that all herbal teas are good for sleep as they don’t contain caffeine… but actually, that’s not true. There are some caffeine-free tisanes that are a bad choice for an evening drink too! If you suffer insomnia or have trouble sleeping regularly, you might want to avoid very sugary teas – from added sugar in herbal tea bags to natural fruit sugars in fruit tisanes. The extra energy will keep you awake! You should also avoid flavored teas with chocolate pieces, cream, and hot spices as these can give you bad dreams.
What you do while you drink your tea can also affect how you sleep. Brightly lit screens and blue colors (reminiscent of the sky) keep your body awake by tricking your brain into thinking that bright light means it’s still daytime. Instead, read a book or try dimming/tinting screens with darker and warmer colors. Stay warm and cozy in bed or somewhere comfy and make sure you won’t be disturbed!
Ginger has stimulating properties, even though the warm fiery flavor of ginger can soothe your sore throat or help you relax. Avoid ginger tea if you find it stimulating before bed.
Black tea contains a high level of caffeine, usually around 50mg of caffeine per cup. This is enough to keep you wide awake for several hours. As a general rule of thumb, stick to low-caffeine drinks after dinner.
This tea cleanses the body of toxins and quickly flushes them out. That sounds great, but in the evening many people find the effects of wheatgrass to be too stimulating to fall asleep.
Sleepy Tea for A Restful Night
A warming cup of tea, even when all you can find is a bag of chamomile in the back of the cupboard, is a great idea if you’re struggling to sleep. Whether it’s anxiety, worries, bad dreams or simply unexplainable insomnia that’s keeping you awake at night, a hot cup of tea could send you off to sleep quickly and peacefully. Sip your tea slowly and snuggle down ready for deep sleep with happy dreams.