Drinking tea can be a great way to relax in the evening, relieving the stress of the day and preparing your body and mind for a night of blissful sleep. However, many teas contain significant levels of caffeine and can in fact have energising effects, which makes your choice of bedtime tea an important one. The good news is that it’s easy to learn which teas to rule out, and which ones to consider for your nightly drink.
A basic rule of thumb is that all tea that comes from any part of the tea plants (camellia sinensis and camellia assamica) will have some form of natural caffeine in it, and won’t be ideal for late evening drinking if you’re looking to improve your sleep quality. This includes green and black teas of all varieties. However, herbal teas – those made from other plants – are free from caffeine, and many have powerfully relaxing properties.
There are hundreds of herbal blends from artisan tea-makers that are ideal for bedtime, and it’s well worth taking the time to research what’s out there and what might suit your particular palate. Also, as some herbal teas are so powerful it’s also important to check whether they’re right for you.
We’ve gathered some sleep-friendly varieties here to help you get started - from traditional and well-known favourites to some more unusual offerings. Let’s take a look;
Valerian tea is made from the root of the valerian herb, and is a rather potent sedative. Extracts of the plant are used to treat a number of conditions, including sleep disorders and anxiety. The aroma and taste of valerian tea are quite strong, in keeping with the overall effects of the drink. If you’re having particular difficulty falling asleep at night then valerian might be the tea for you.
Fennel tea is generally made from the seeds of the fennel herb, and is known to have a range of benefits for the digestive system. Drinking fennel tea at bedtime can settle the stomach, lower any lingering appetite and generally calm your body. As an appetite suppressant, drinking fennel tea is a good way to avoid late-night snacking.
Lavender is a traditional sleeping aid with its essential oil commonly used in baths, diffusors or droplets, but it is also an effective tea. Simply smelling the scent of lavender at bedtime is clinically proven to increase slow-wave sleep (Wesleyan University, 2005). It’s this aroma, along with the digestive qualities of the plant, that can make lavender tea such a good choice before bed.
Lemon verbena tea is effective in reducing nervous tension, stress and anxiety, meaning that a cup before bedtime could be a good way to banish any sleep-depriving negative thoughts. As the name suggests, lemon verbena tea has a citrusy taste and scent and as it is frequently blended with mint it can be an instantly refreshing drink that helps clear your airways – another positive effect for good sleep.
Chamomile (or ‘camomile’) is perhaps the classic bedtime tea, known for centuries as a sublimely relaxing drink. There’s a good reason chamomile is consistently regarded so highly around the world, and that’s because it’s so effective as a stress reliever. As well as sleep-boosting relaxation, chamomile is also believed to improve the immune system, making it a good all-rounder for a healthy bedtime tea choice.
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