The Best Bedtime Teas for Sleep

Bedtime teas are a great natural remedy to sleep. Learn here which herbal teas are the best at easing your to Snoozeville.

By Andrea Pisani Babich

When the price of a good night’s sleep is morning drowsiness, terrifying nightmares, cognitive impairment, and the risk of addiction, you gotta ask yourself if your sleep aid is doing more harm than good. OTC sleep aids and prescription medications may help you sleep, but long-term use can lead to bigger problems than a restless night.

For centuries, people have been drinking herbal teas before bed to relieve stress, help them relax, and get the sleep they need. (And you thought sleep deprivation was a modern problem.) As our attention turns more and more to getting sufficient quality sleep, the bedtime tea industry has exploded with more variety and better blends of herbs and spices to ease you into La-La Land.

The best bedtime teas – often called tisanes because, being herbal, they are not technically teas – promote sleep by causing observable changes in your brain chemistry that relieve stress, allow you to relax, and ease you into a restful sleep. Some teas, like those made with valerian, even improve your sleep quality by increasing the amount of time you spend in REM Sleep.  

And it’s not just the compounds in the bedtime teas that promote sleep. Many people find the whole tea-drinking experience to be a calming part of their bedtime routine. Imagine wrapping your hands around your favorite warm mug, breathing in the calming, aromatic steam, and relaxing as the warm liquid glides down your throat and fills your whole body with soothing warmth. Sounds like an excellent way to ease you into your night’s sleep, right? Millions of people for millennia can’t be wrong.

Let’s look at some of the best bedtime teas to help you sleep.

Bedtime Tea Ingredients and How They Work

Some bedtime teas, also called sleepytime teas, have an actual sedative effect that induces sleep. Others work to relieve the stress and anxiety that can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders. While studies show that bedtime teas all help to promote sleep, the exact nature of their calming effects has not been conclusively identified. However, there appears to be consensus on the working theories.

Chamomile

Chamomile has long been used to treat insomnia and induce sedation. The flavonoid called apigenin may be responsible for chamomile’s calming effect.

Valerian Root

Valerian root tea is considered one of the big guns in the bedtime tea industry for annihilating the stress and anxiety that keep people tossing and turning, but like chamomile, scientists are not sure why. One theory is that valerian root increases the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that relaxes your nervous system and promotes sleep.

Studies have shown that valerian can be as effective as prescription sleep medications without the side effects. Be aware, however, that valerian can take as long as two weeks to be effective in promoting sleep. It can become addictive or interfere with other medications, so check with your doctor before starting a valerian tea regimen.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is another ingredient added to sleepytime teas that has been shown to increase GABA levels in mice. OK, so it’s mice, but it may very well increase GABA levels in humans too, which may account for its history of easing stress and improving sleep since the Middle Ages.

Lavender

Lavender’s calming aroma has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality in people with chronic anxiety disorders. Drinking a cup of lavender tea is a soothing addition to your bedtime routine that exposes you to the calming scent of the lavender plant.

Other sleepytime tea ingredients that help you nod off are…

  • Decaffeinated green tea
  • Passionflower
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass
  • Catnip
  • Linden leaf or tilia
  • Hops
  • Magnolia Bark
  • St. John’s Wort

Find Your Tea

The first rule of bedtime teas is no caffeine, but that’s kind of a no-brainer since we all know that caffeine is the sworn enemy of restful sleep for most people. After that, like Goldilocks looking for the bed that’s just right, you may need to try more than one bedtime tea before you find one that’s just right for you. Experts who study the effects of tea compounds agree that the common ingredients found in most bedtime teas affect different people in different ways. A tea that sends you directly to Snoozeville may leave your spouse drumming his fingers until he passes out from boredom. But with a little bit of patience, you may find the perfect brew to send your worries and anxiety sailing away.

The Best Teas for Bedtime

Chamomile is the first ingredient in Bigelow’s Sweet Dreams Herbal Tea because of its mild tranquilizing effect. Other ingredients that calm your nerves, soothe your soul, and delight your senses are:

  • Hibiscus
  • Peppermint leaves
  • Rose blossoms
  • Spearmint leaves
  • Spice
  • Orange Blossoms

This blend of ingredients creates a sweet and tangy taste with a little touch of mint, which dominates the aroma. Steep in boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes. Made in the USA, Bigelow Teas have been produced by the same family for almost 75 years, so you know they know their tea leaves. Available online in six-box cases (120 individually sealed tea bags) for $18.95 and at grocery stores near you.

Bedtime® Tea is just one part of Yogi’s overall effort to improve your health and well-being through relaxation and mindfulness. To that end, they blend a wide variety of aromatic and flavorful herbs and spices to support the calming and sedative effects of chamomile, valerian, and passionflower extract in their Bedtime® Tea. Other ingredients in this exotic blend include

  • Licorice root
  • Spearmint leaf
  • Cardamom
  • Rose hips
  • Stevia Leaf
  • Skullcap leaf
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Lavender flower
  • Natural and organic flavors

Yogi Bedtime® Tea is a tea you can feel good about because it is verified non-GMO and USDA certified organic. Steep in boiling water for 7 minutes. Available in boxes of 16 individually wrapped tea bags at locations near you.

Pukka uses the magic of valerian to ease your anxiety and relieve your stress in their best-selling Night Time Tea. Combined with ethically sourced oat flower, soothing lavender, and sweet lime flower, valerian is a natural anxiety reducer that will help you sleep and wake refreshed in the morning. And Pukka teas won’t harm the environment or the people that grow the ingredients. All ingredients are certified Fair for Life and USDA certified organic so you can rest easy about your health, the health of the planet, and the health of all the people who live here. Available in boxes of 20 individually sealed sachets at locations near you.

Forty years ago, Celestial Seasonings created the original bedtime tea using a blend of herbs and botanicals to help people relax and rest peacefully at night. Almost overnight, their bestselling blend of chamomile, tilia flowers, spearmint, lemongrass, and hawthorn transformed Celestial Seasonings from a cottage industry into a major player in the tea industry. Adding the magic of valerian to their time-honored recipe gives Sleepytime® Extra an additional calming effect to help the seriously sleep challenged get the rest they need. Available online or at a location near you.

Personally, I would buy this tea just for the name. But you don’t have to be a mother to appreciate a tasty cup of tea that reduces stress and helps you relax to sleep naturally. Mother’s Little Helper blends the minty taste of peppermint with the fruitiness of chamomile and just a touch of tartness from hibiscus. Other ingredients include lemongrass, valerian root, and cornflowers.

In addition to its soothing effects, the blend of ingredients in Mother’s Little Helper aid in digestion, making falling asleep as easy as dropping into bed. David’s Teas are certified organic, fair trade, and kosher. Available online in loose leaf or handy sachets.


When you’re struggling to sleep, just remember: stay calm and drink tea.

Note: Before adding any herbal teas to your diet, you should consult with your physician. Some herbal teas can interact with medications and supplements, and others can cause adverse reactions in people with allergies, those preparing for surgery, and people taking blood thinners.


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