Tea traditionally is associated with helping keep you alert since many types contain caffeine. If you don’t react well to caffeine or you’d prefer a tea that winds you down rather than wakes you up, there are plenty of options available to make you sleepy.
Herbal teas and tisanes can often make you sleepy because some contain ingredients with sedative effects. Many of these teas, such as valerian tea and chamomile, are specifically used to help improve sleep and induce relaxation.
True teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant, do not typically cause sleepiness because they are caffeinated teas. Black tea can have as much caffeine as 47 mg of caffeine per cup, while green tea and white tea have less caffeine per cup.
Looking for caffeine-free herbal teas that can help settle you down for a good night’s rest? Keep reading to learn why tea can have a calming effect and which type is the best tea if you want a natural way to have a better night’s sleep.
Tea as a Sleep Aid
Tea is one of the most popular breakfast beverages in the world, but unlike coffee, tea is also a popular beverage for winding down for sleep. There are many varieties of herbal teas that are known for their relaxing qualities that make sleep come faster and help prevent bouts of restlessness and anxiety that can cause insomnia.
Tea is a popular sleep aid for several reasons:
- Options: Teas that encourage sleep come in many different flavors and blends. If you don’t like one herbal tea for sleep, chances are you’ll be able to find another tea blend that you prefer better.
- Natural sleep aids: Unlike commercial sleeping pills that can have negative side effects or can cause dependence, herbal teas are a more mild and safe way to improve sleep habits without taking drugs.
- Other health benefits: Along with improving sleep, many herbal teas also have other medicinal advantages like high levels of antioxidants, a chemical compound that reduces inflammation in the body, can contribute to a healthy immune system, and can help manage cardiovascular disease. Check out this post for a full list of the health benefits of tea.
For many people, the nightly routine of a nice cup of tea at bedtime can help encourage better bedtime habits and can be an important part of transitioning into sleep.
Why Does Tea Make You Sleepy?
Tea can make you sleepy for several different reasons. Here are the main causes of sleepiness after drinking tea:
- Warmth: A hot beverage can have a natural relaxing effect on the body where it can help lull the body into sleep.
- Milk: Some varieties of tea are dressed with milk before drinking. Milk contains a chemical called L-tryptophan that causes sleepiness. (Source: The National Library of Medicine).
- Anxiety reduction: Some herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender, contain compounds that actively reduce anxiety and stress. This can put people in a better mindset to drift off into sleep if they have stress-induced insomnia. So if you suffer from anxiety disorders, the good news is there are types of tea that can help you get better sleep.
Along with the above effects, many herbal teas also contain compounds specific to their botanical makeup that can encourage sleep. For example, passionflower and magnolia bark teas are deliberately consumed for their ability to make sleep come more easily.
What Teas Make You Sleepy?
If you’re looking for a type of tea that can make you sleepy, there are a few different varieties for you to choose from. These are some of the herbal teas to try when you’re relaxing before sleep. Most of these are available at your local grocery store in both tea bags and loose leaf tea.
- Chamomile: Chamomile tea is one of the most popular herbal teas for sleep since it can be easily grown in the home garden and is also used in several other herbal applications in the form of soap and cosmetics. Adding a cup of chamomile tea to your nighttime routine can be a soothing ritual without the effects of caffeine in other teas. This tea was also found to relieve pain from menstrual cramps, so if period pain is keeping you up, this is a great choice.
- Valerian root: Valerian is a flowering prairie plant with a root that has sedative effects when dried and ground for tea. The effects of valerian root tea may take several weeks of consistent use to be felt at bedtime.
- Lavender: Along with being ingested in lavender tea for its sedative and relaxing effects, lavender is a fragrant flower used in candies, desserts, perfumes, soaps, and shampoos. Lavender essential oils can also be calming when sprayed on your sheets and pillowcases.
- Lemon balm tea: Lemon balm is an herb that is often combined with other sedative herbs like valerian and lavender to improve sleep. (Source: Mount Sinai) Like chamomile, this flowering herb can be easily grown at home in your herbal tea garden.
- Passionflower tea: Purple passionflower, also known as maypop, is consumed in tea form for its ability to reduce anxiety and physical stress. Passionflower accomplishes this by increasing the amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain. (Source: Healthline)
- Magnolia bark: Magnolia bark is an herbal tea that has been used in Japanese and Chinese herbal medicine for centuries. Magnolia bark contains polyphenols like magnolol and honokiol that are associated with sleep improvement. (Source: Psychology Today)
- Peppermint Tea: Peppermint can act as a muscle relaxant. So if you’re experiencing sleep problems due to being tense, this sleepy tea can help you unwind and improve the quality of your sleep.
- Tea Blends: Many tea companies make blends of tea specially made to help you nod off. Look for names like sleepy tea, sleepytime or nighttime tea. If you look at the labels of these blends, you’ll often find the above sleepy ingredients.
If one type of herbal tea doesn’t give you the sleep benefits you’re craving, it’s a good idea to experiment with different types. Some people might be more or less sensitive to some tea compounds than others, so you might have to look around a little to find a blend that works well for your bedtime routine.
How to Serve Tea at Bedtime
When drinking tea as a sleep aid at night, there are some ways you can serve it to increase the chances that it will make you sleepy. Here are some tips for serving tea at bedtime that can help improve your sleep:
- Avoid screens and monitors. When you have your bedtime cup of tea, don’t do it in front of Netflix or your phone screen. The blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with the production of sleep hormones.
- Try it with a dose of milk. Serving herbal tea with warm milk can enhance its relaxing effects due to the L-tryptophan that milk contains. Some herbal tea types, such as turmeric tea and lavender tea, pair better with milk than others.
- Heat up the tea, cool down the room. While warm drinks have been shown to increase drowsiness, the opposite is true for the temperature of the room you sleep in. Lowering the temperature of the room a few degrees can cause your body to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness and relaxation.
- Dim the lights. Reducing the lights in your bedroom while you drink your evening cup of tea can help put you in the mindset for rest and give your brain a visual cue that you’re engaging in a bedtime routine.
- Take Your time: Give yourself enough time to wind down and enjoy the warmth of your sleep tea. Rushing is the opposite of what you want to do when you’re settling in for rest.
- Pamper yourself: A warm bath and a warm cup of tea are two rituals that can work together to relax your mind and body.
Whichever bedtime tea routine you set up, following through with it nightly is an important part of using it to improve sleep. The herbs in herbal tea are useful as sleep aids, but so is the nighttime tea ritual itself.
For Sweet Dreams Stay Away from Tea Energy Drinks
If you don’t want to be waking up in the middle of the night, stay away from tea energy drinks since they have more caffeine than a cup of coffee. That amount of caffeine can stop adenosine from binding with your adenosine receptors which is what happens in your brain when you get sleepy.
Downsides to Tea Before Bed
The only downside of a cup of herbal tea before bed is that you may have to head to the bathroom more often during the night. If that’s the case for you, try brewing up a cup of nighttime tea and having it after dinner. That way, you’ll have time to flush out some liquid before you go to bed.
If you’re a person who can easily fall back to sleep once they’re asleep, drinking tea right before bed shouldn’t be an issue.
Tea Is A Healthy Alternative to Sleeping Pills
If you often have problems sleeping but you don’t want to be reliant on sleeping pills or other drugs, herbal teas are a useful way to solve the problem without developing a dependency on a chemical.
Drinking herbal teas that make you sleepy can naturally increase your body’s production of the hormones it already uses to regulate your sleep quality.
Adding a cup of warm tea to your evening routine is a great way to wind down after a long day and ensure you get enough sleep to start again tomorrow.