After water, tea is the most popular drink in the entire world. Americans alone drank 3.8 billion gallons of tea in 2020. Do you have a favorite tea? Many folks opt for herbal tea, as it has long been studied as a health drink, offering many remedies and benefits. Since herbal tea does not contain caffeine, can the right cup of herbal tea really benefit your sleep?
What's the tea?
Herbal teas are composed of dried fruits, flowers, spices, and/or herbs that come together in aromatic flavors, each with unique properties that can serve specific ailments. When choosing a herbal tea, it's best to select one that is 100% natural, without any additives, and if you can, loose-leaf rather than bagged.
Pure, herbal teas are abundant in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Herbal tea is studied to have anti-aging properties, anti-oxidants, and boost the immune system. Peppermint tea contains menthol, so is perfect for treating nausea, motion sickness, and/or indigestion. If you're experiencing joint pain, a nice ginger tea may help subside the pain. Rooibos are regarded for their ability to improve blood pressure and circulation while keeping hair and skin fresh.
When it comes to rest and sleep, chamomile is the most popular tea. The benefits of chamomile are abundant, including treating wounds, eczema, inflammation, canker sores and nausea. Research regards it as a mild tranquilizer, with the sedative effects caused by chamomiles apigenin property, (which is found in a variety of herbs and plants that at the right dose = sleepiness) which then binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, which in essence, calms the nervous system. One study of postpartum women experiencing poor sleep who drank chamomile tea for 2-weeks reported overall better sleep quality than those who did not drink chamomile tea. People who suffer from anxiety and depression, which is linked to poor sleep quality, can also benefit from chamomile due to its anxiolytic activity - a property commonly found in antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. If that's not enough, thanks to chamomile's antispasmodic properties, the tea can help relieve painful menstrual cramps.
Another tea thought to improve sleep is valerian root. Valerian root is composed of valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and antioxidants like hesperidin and linarin, which are the properties believed to increase tiredness and decrease anxiety. The research is mixed, with one study highlighting how valerian root tea increases the body's levels of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid which, when present in abundant levels, can increase sleepiness by calming the nervous system. One study of 27 individuals determined that 89% of participants reported improved sleep when taking valerian root tea. Another study of adults with insomnia determined that one valerian tea helped them sleep 36% faster and their levels of deep sleep increased.
The final tea believed to help improve sleep is lavender. A small sample study determined that post-natal women who drank one lavender tea for two weeks had better sleep than those who did not. Research on elderly folks saw a positive correlation between lavender tea and a decrease in their anxiety and depression, a common factor behind restlessness, helping them relax. However, there is a significant need for further scientific research into lavender tea for sleep, as it currently lacks.
There is mixed scientific proof for chamomile and valerian root tea too, with some studies believing the effects could be placebo.
Have a cuppa
When it comes to a great cup of sleepy tea, we recommend the lovely Vana Tisanes Sleep tea. It’s composed of organic catnip leaf, chamomile flower, hop flower, lavender flower, lemon balm leaf, passionflower, skullcap, st. John's wort and valerian root, from different corners of the world, are hand-packed with love by a small team of two expert tea connoisseurs. It's natural and the perfect pre-bed beverage to relax the nervous system, helping you to unwind.
Herbal tea is great for anyone, but it is recommended not to exceed 3-4 cups per day.
While the scientific evidence is ultimately mixed, the positive association of tea and sleep is ritualistic, calming and by our evaluation, not a hoax. You invite your senses to participate in the relaxing routine, from selecting your tea, boiling the water, then pouring it into your favorite mug. The tea’s soft scents are soothing, as you wrap your hands around your warm mug, gently signaling your brain it's time to wind down.
It is very compelling that tea is the second most popular drink in the world, and has been for centuries. Continue with the routine, or give it a go, as the peaceful ceremony of taking a moment to have a cuppa can help you relax and improve sleep.