Drinking tea before bed can be quite a divisive topic and confusing for some people as some teas are known to give you a wakeup jolt.
Most tea leaves are caffeinated, which might sound as counterintuitive for those drinking tea with the hopes of falling asleep quicker.
But not all teas are caffeinated; some teas have highly calming properties that can help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
So, can drinking tea help you sleep? Well... Yes, if you're drinking the right kind of tea at night and if your body responds to it well. In this article, we discuss the effects of tea on the body and how drinking tea can help improve your sleep.
On caffeinated teas...
Different teas have different levels of caffeine. Caffeine is naturally occurring in the Camellia sinensis plant - the plant where a lot of tea leaves come from.
As a general rule, darker teas like black tea and oolong have more caffeine in them - which makes them great as breakfast teas.
While on the other hand, lighter teas like green tea and white teas are less caffeinated and are more suitable to drink at nighttime.
The steeping and brewing process also plays a role in the amount of caffeine in your tea; using hotter water and steeping for a longer time usually extracts more caffeine out of the tea leaves.
How can tea help me fall asleep?
Even though teas aren't 100% caffeine-free, the way the body absorbs caffeine from teas is not the same as it would on energy drinks, soft drinks and coffee.
The way caffeine from teas is absorbed in the body is in a prolonged manner. The slow release gives you enough alertness without the caffeine rush and the caffeine crash at the end.
Likewise, some teas have relaxing properties that lead to a calming effect. This can help you get into the perfect sleepy state.
Should I be drinking tea before going to bed?
The answer to this depends on you. Yes, there are teas that’ll help you sleep, but if tea isn’t your thing, you’ve got other options. But if you love your tea, go for it! Just make sure it’s one that is made for sleep.
Regardless of sleep effects, tea is incredibly good for you. It's hard to dismiss the fact that a lot of herbal teas bring out health benefits; teas are natural antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and are also great at boosting the immune system.
In some cultures, tea is also used as a natural remedy for a lot of health problems. There are some skeptics that claim it's more of a placebo effect - but there's nothing to lose by trying it out for yourself?
What are the best teas to drink before bedtime?
As mentioned earlier, most variants of tea leaves coming from the Camellia sinensis plant are naturally caffeinated, which makes them a less-preferred option of a bedtime tea.
Teas that are more recommended for sleep are the herbal teas coming from herbs, fruits, peels, flower buds and petals, and other sources.
Chamomile tea is probably the tea that gets associated with sleep the most.When looking for chamomile teas in the supermarket aisles, the packaging would be most likely adorned with associations to sleep.
The reputation of chamomile as a sleep aid comes from its effectiveness. The flower used in chamomile tea is rich with a substance called apigenin.
Apigenin usually activates GABA receptors, and when GABA receptors are activated, the nervous system slows down with an effect similar to tranquillisers.
Chamomile extracts aren't only popularly used as teas but are also the main ingredient in a lot of commercially available sleeping supplements.
Lavender tea is not super common, and is more likely to be mixed in with other ingredients. Most people will immediately associate lavender with sleep.
First of all, drinking lavender tea helps with relaxation and relieving anxieties, plus smelling lavender brings about the same effects.
It is the combination of both the aromatic effects and the effects of the tea on the nervous system that makes it great as a bedtime drink.
This is also the same way lavender oils are diffused before bedtime, since lavender has high effectiveness in calming the mind and creating a relaxing environment.
Valerian tea, or valerian root tea as it's sometimes called, comes from the roots and stems of the valerian plant.
Known to be a very potent sedative, valerian root is often used and ingested as natural sleeping pills, but it is also widely available in tea form.
People living with chronic insomnia are sometimes prescribed to intake valerian tea before bedtime as a means to address the difficulty of falling asleep.
Fun fact: lemon balm doesn't come from the lemon fruit or tree! It's a herb that smells like lemons, which is where the name comes from.
The herb that hails from the mint family is well known for its properties that are effective at relieving stress and anxiety.
Not only does lemon balm tea aid in keeping you calm and feeling rested, but the smell of the tea also has calming effects that help get you the sleep you need.
Peppermint teas aren't exactly the most sleep-inducing tea out there, but drinking it at night can still actually help you fall asleep faster.
The mentholated scent that comes from a cup of peppermint tea has a calming effect on the body and serves as great aromatherapy before bed.
Although green tea is usually caffeinated, there are decaffeinated options available on the market. Green tea contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid that can help you keep calm and relaxed.
Many brands will advertise “sleep teas”, being a different blend of the teas and herbs mentioned above, as well as other ingredients. If you’re new to tea and are looking for something specific for sleep, this might be the way to go.
If you're suffering from poor sleep and looking at ways to help relieve your sleeplessness, then try brewing a cup of tea before bedtime.
There are a lot of teas for you to try, and if they don't send you to sleep, at least you have a tasty, warm drink before bed that is also really good for you and your wellbeing.