Finding a Sleep Tea: What Should You Look For?

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping and don’t want to take habit-forming sleep aids, herbal sleep tea might be the solution. Your local supermarket is stocked with teas full of natural ingredients to help you relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep. After spending too many nights restlessly trying to get to sleep and stay asleep I knew I needed some extra, natural help – so I checked out these teas and I’ve reported the benefits here so you can find something that works for you.

Sleep-Inducing Ingredients to Look for in Sleep Tea

You’ll find about a dozen herbs that are commonly used in a sleep tea. Some have specific sleep-inducing properties, while others are mainly included for taste. Here are five of the most common–and effective–herbal ingredients to look for:

Valerian is a flower (you may have heard of valerian root–the part of the flower used in herbal remedies) known to help you fall asleep more quickly, and sleep better.

A word of caution, though: there are some possible side effects to consider with valerian. According to the Mayo Clinic, side effects may include headaches, dizziness, and stomach problems. Valerian is not recommended for children.

Chamomile is probably the most widely-known tea used for sleeping.

A study published in 2010 reveals chamomile’s ability to calm and induce sleep in people participating in clinical sleep studies, as well as individuals participating in clinical trials unrelated to sleep.

Chamomile is thought to be safe for all ages.

Passion flower is said to have a mild, gentle sedative effect that can help induce sleep. Most teas that contain passion flower also contain another (stronger) herbal sleep aid.Passion flower, used in tea

Orange blossom is another flower with sedative properties. The oil from the flower is often added to teas to help combat insomnia. Like passion flower, orange blossom isn’t all that strong, so it’s usually combined with another herb.

Licorice root is thought to help with a number of different health issues, including asthma, heartburn, and chronic fatigue. Licorice root supplements come in many forms, but tea is recommended for restful sleep.

Whenever possible, choose an organic sleep tea, or a tea with many organic ingredients. Avoid teas with added sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. The purer the ingredients and extracts, the more beneficial the tea will be.

Popular Herbal Teas for Sleeping

We all know how annoying it is to buy a new food or drink, only to find you hate how it tastes! Or , even worse, find out that it doesn’t do what the package says it will. Before you head to the store, read these reviews of the most popular sleep teas.

All of the teas listed below are caffeine-free. It should go without saying that drinking caffeine before bedtime–or even a few hours before you plan to sleep–will only make it more difficult to drift off or stay asleep.

Yogi Bedtime Tea

This tea contains four of the top herbal sleep-aid ingredients: valerian root extract (20mg), passionflower plant extract (10mg), organic licorice root*, and organic chamomile flower* (*amounts are not disclosed).

Pros:

• Contains several organic ingredients
• You won’t experience morning grogginess
• Great for people with severe restlessness

Cons:

• Doesn’t contain as much valerian as other night-time teas

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

The main ingredient in Sleepytime is chamomile. Other ingredients include orange blossom, spearmint and lemongrass.

Pros:

• Promotes a deeper, more restful sleep
• Has a delicate mint flavor
• Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

• Not organic
• The manufacturer doesn’t disclose how much of each ingredient is included

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra

Sleepytime Extra contains the same ingredients as the traditional Sleepytime, with the addition of valerian.

Pros:

• The combination of valerian and chamomile may induce greater calming and relaxation than traditional Sleepytime tea
• Each teabag contains 600 mg of chamomile, a dose that has been shown to reduce anxiety

Cons:

• Valerian may cause unpleasant side effects (see above)
• Not organic
• The 25 mg dose of valerian is much lower than in other valerian teas

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Tea

The main ingredients in Organic Nightly tea are organic passion flower (360 mg) and organic chamomile (255 mg). It has a slight minty taste that comes from organic spearmint.

Pros:

• Helps you fall asleep and stay asleep
• All of the ingredients are certified organic
• This tea is non-GMO verified and Kosher

Cons:

• Each tea bag requires 10-15 minutes to steep
• The recommended “dose” required to feel the effects is 2-3 cups

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Tea

This version of Traditional Medicinals nighttime tea switches out the chamomile for organic valerian root (450 mg) and licorice root (amount not specified).

Pros:

• Gently puts you to sleep and allows you to wake when you want to
• No drowsiness in the morning
• Has one of the highest amounts of valerian at 450 milligrams

Cons:

• Valerian may cause unpleasant side effects (see above)
• The smell of valerian root is quite unpleasant, but it dissipates after the tea has steeped
• It may take up to 60 minutes to feel the full effects of this tea
• Like the traditional Nighty Night tea, this tea takes a while to steep and the recommended dose is 2-3 cups

Pukka Organic Night Time

Night Time tea contains three of the common herbs used for sleep: organic chamomile, valerian root, and licorice root. It also includes a healthy dose (30 mg) of oat flower (also known as oatstraw), which is used for treating anxiety and insomnia due to anxiety.

Pros:

• Has a slightly sweet lavender flavor
• Helps calm your mind so you can drift off to sleep
• USDA-certified organic; Kosher

Cons:

• Requires a long steep to get the best flavor
• Has a slightly pungent scent
• The amounts of valerian root and chamomile are too small to have much effect

Celebration Flowers Organic Hops Flowers Tea

Unlike the other teas in this list, this one contains just two ingredients: organic hops and lemongrass. Hops, which have sedative properties, are the “active” ingredients.

Pros:

• Helps calm nerves, allowing you to relax
• Has only two organic ingredients, for a truly pure tea

Cons:

• The bitter smell and taste is not for everyone; you may want to add a sweetener

How to Make Your Own Sleep TeaCup of herbal tea

If you prefer to make your own loose-leaf tea using herbs you have selected yourself, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s easy!  For the best results, choose high-quality ingredients, and be sure to store the tea in an air-tight container.

Watch this video to learn how to make a great tasting sleep tea:

Remember that each herb is known for helping with certain aspects of sleep. Some are better for helping you relax and fall asleep, while others help you to get a more restful sleep. You should try making a tea targeted towards your specific symptoms.

Use Sleep Teas with Caution

While most of the herbal supplements used in sleep teas are considered safe for consumption, everybody reacts differently to herbs. Pay specific attention to your body when you’ve introduced any new supplement to your diet.

If you have a serious medical condition, like liver disease or a heart condition, you should always check with your doctor before taking any type of herbal supplement.

Even though herbal supplements aren’t thought to be highly addictive, relying on a tea to fall asleep every night might be a sign that your body is addicted to a certain herb. If you enjoy tea every night, that’s okay; if you cannot sleep without it, talk to your doctor.

Make Tea Part of a Sleep Routine

Sipping a cup of chamomile tea while you buzz around the house doing evening chores will not help you sleep! Even a great herbal tea may not be enough to counteract the effects of reading on your phone in bed, or falling asleep with the TV blaring.

A good sleep routine is essential for consistent, restful sleep. Identify what time you need/want to go to sleep, and plan to finish chores, watching TV, and tweeting 30-60 minutes prior. Plan to brew your cup of tea, and then sit and enjoy it. Talk with your spouse or kids, or read a book. Committing to a sleep routine will reduce nightly stress and provide you with the appropriate period of time to unwind before bedtime.

Good luck with finding the right sleep tea for you. If you find something amazing, do let me know so I can try it out!