Eight teas to sip at bedtime to help you sleep through the entire night

Expert review by Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN

While nightcaps like alcoholic beverages or a warm glass of milk have some sleep-promoting properties, sleep teas tend to be better for your overall sleep quality. Here are the best kinds of teas for lulling you into a dream state.

How sleep teas work.

Herbal teas contain micronutrients like magnesium and potassium, as well as a host of ingredients that encourage calmness and enhance feelings of sleepiness, certified sleep consultant and founder of Live Love Sleep Kaley Medina notes.

They can not only help lull you to sleep, but they will also help you stay asleep, unlike something like brandy or whiskey that can disrupt your sleep by increasing neural excitement once the alcohol wears off, Medina tells mbg. 

You want to stick with herbal brews that are void of caffeine (which would support the opposite effect than you're after) and that ideally contain herbs in their whole (not powdered) form. This will ensure its ingredients and nutrients can perform optimally.

To sip your way to snoozeville, Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., aka The Sleep Doctor, reminds mbg that you also need to maintain proper sleep hygiene and a consistent sleep schedule. Sipping your sleep tea at a specific time can also help ensure the best results: One cup about 60 to 90 minutes before bed, Breus says, is ideal.

It's important to remember that in the same way that swapping out your usual comforter for a weighted blanket or switching on a sound machine to drown out any unwanted bedroom noise won't necessarily solve your sleep woes, drinking a cup of tea can't guarantee a good night's sleep either. Your cuppa should be paired with other healthy nighttime habits

8 best teas for sleep.

Getting from point A to point Zzz requires a specific kind of sleep tea. Here are the herbal blends that experts recommend sipping on nightly:

1. Chamomile

Among the most popular sleep tea ingredients is chamomile—you know, the pretty white petaled flower that resembles a daisy. But according to sleep expert Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., you're better off skipping tea bags that list "chamomile tea dust" as the main ingredient. Chamomile buds, he says, are what deliver results. 

"For sleep, the key active component of chamomile is the flavonoid apigenin," Teitelbaum tells mbg. This binds to GABA receptors in the brain and has a calming impact on the body—helping to reduce nerves and promote rest.

2. Lavender

As far as this writer's concerned, lavender is as good as a synonym for calm. While the purple flower is often used to scent pillow mists or aromatherapy creams, Medina lists the plant as a relaxing sip for those grappling with anxiousness before bed.

"Lavender flowers and leaves can deeply relax you and make you feel calm,"* Medina tells mbg. This is because the plant's active components have been shown to stimulate the GABA system, adds Teitelbaum. The result is a soothing cup to sip, but you may also reap calming benefits from simply inhaling the sweet aroma.

3. Peppermint or mint

Peppermint sleep teas are also a popular choice (the Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Mint is a personal favorite of mine), though Teitelbaum says the ingredient's sleep-promoting effects have not been well demonstrated. Still, peppermint contains menthol, which has been shown to help soothe the stomach, as well as open up the respiratory tract, so this kind of herbal tea can still be worth a try at bedtime.

4. Valerian

Valerian is a wild flowering plant known for its sedative properties. Medina affectionately defines it as a "stinky herb" that "relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus, colon, and bronchial passages," and reveals it's a personal favorite as of late.

"I like to start low and then work my way up to a concentration that makes me feel sleepy. If you feel like your muscles are rubbery or heavy, then you had too much," Medina says. "Cut back the amount the next day and the feeling should pass fairly quickly. If you are agitated or restless, then stop using valerian and consider yourself the rare 10% that should not use this herb." 

5. Passionflower

Another popular purple flower known for its sleepytime properties is the passionflower, and according to Teitelbaum, it's as bold in color as it is effective at bedtime. "It's been shown in research to be both calming and helpful for sleep by increasing GABA in the brain," he tells mbg.

It may also increase the happy hormone, serotonin, Teitelbaum adds, which induces sleep by acting as a precursor to the onset of melatonin, aka the sleep hormone.

6. Lemon balm

Hot lemon water is commonly sipped first thing in the morning to fire up the digestive system, but lemon balm tea—which is made from the flowering herb, not the citrus fruit—makes for a delicious and sleep-promoting tea at bedtime. Breus points out that lemon balm is a member of the mint family and cites the ingredient as a masterful sleep aid.

7. Nettle

According to Medina, nettle leaves, seeds, and roots are rich in quality iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium. Together, these minerals can promote a healthy nervous system, therefore easing stress and anxiousness, which happen to be two very common sleep disrupters.

8. Magnolia bark

If you need help falling asleep fast, try drinking a cup of magnolia bark tea before bed. Derived from the houpo magnolia tree, magnolia bark contains honokiol, a compound that binds GABA receptors in the brain, which, Breus says, helps to reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep.

The takeaway.

From supplements for sleep to sleep masks, silk pajamas, and bedding, there is a myriad of products that can help you fall asleep by offering that extra bit of support.* Sipping a warm cup of sleep tea before bed can be the finishing touch on an otherwise healthy sleep routine. The best part? Sleep teas are made of ingredients that work with your body to help you naturally fall and stay asleep through the night without a stir.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.


By Julia Guerra / mbg Contributor

Julia Guerra is a health and wellness writer reporting for mindbodygreen, Elite Daily, and INSIDER. Formerly the beauty editor for BestProducts.com, she's contributed to Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, PopSugar, and more. A book worm and fitness enthusiast, her happiest moments are spent with her husband, family, sipping tea, and cuddling with her Tabby cat, Aria.

(Source: mindbodygreen.com; May 13, 2022; https://tinyurl.com/2p8v8ftf)
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