There are few things as soothing as a hot cup of tea, especially before bed. Some types can help you relax, slow down, and unwind after a long day.
Many types of herbal tea have been used as natural sleep remedies for centuries, thanks to their ability to fight insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Some have even been studied for their sleep-promoting properties.
This article explores 6 of the best bedtime teas for getting good quality sleep.
1. Magnolia tea
Made from the dried bark, buds, and stems of the magnolia plant, magnolia tea is often used as a natural sleep aid in many forms of traditional medicine.
The plant contains honokiol and magnolol, two compounds that have sedative effects.
Although research in humans is lacking, some older animal studies have found both honokiol and magnolol to help induce sleep and decrease insomnia.
According to one study in women who recently gave birth, drinking magnolia tea for 3 weeks significantly improved depression and sleep quality, compared with a control group.
Another, albeit older, study in 89 women showed that taking a tablet with magnesium and 60 mg of magnolia extract reduced sleep disturbances caused by menopause.
Still, more recent research is needed to better evaluate how magnolia tea may affect sleep in humans.
2. Low caffeine green tea
Green tea is a popular type of tea known for its distinct flavor and health benefits.
Interestingly, some studies suggest that it could also improve sleep quality and battle insomnia.
For example, one study in adults found that drinking low caffeine green tea was linked to improved sleep quality, decreased stress, and reduced fatigue, compared with drinking regular green tea.
Another small study had similar findings, reporting that low caffeine green tea reduced stress levels and improved sleep quality in older adults.
Be sure to choose green tea with low or no caffeine content if you’re planning to drink it close to bedtime.
3. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is a type of herbal tea with a delicate floral flavor and possible health benefits.
It’s made from chamomile, a plant that’s often used to promote sleep thanks to its sedative effects.
Chamomile also contains an antioxidant known as apigenin, which can induce muscle relaxation and sleep.
In a review of 12 studies, chamomile was found to safely improve sleep quality, though it didn’t significantly affect insomnia.
Another study investigated how drinking chamomile tea affected 80 women who had recently given birth and who experienced poor sleep quality. Within 2 weeks, they reported fewer sleep-difficulty-related symptoms, compared with a control group.
However, because research is still limited, more studies are needed to understand how chamomile tea may affect sleep.
4. Lavender tea
Lavender tea is made by brewing the buds of the lavender flower in water, creating a vibrant purple beverage with a distinct flavor and aroma.
Not only is it often enjoyed as a soothing bedtime tea, but some research also supports that lavender could promote relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
For instance, one small study found that women who had recently given birth and who drank 1 cup (237 mL) of lavender tea per day for 2 weeks experienced less fatigue than a control group.
Another study in older adults showed that lavender tea effectively decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, both of which could contribute to insomnia.
Some studies also show that lavender essential oil could reduce anxiety and improve sleep, though it’s unclear if these findings apply to lavender tea.
Ultimately, more research is still needed.
5. Valerian tea
Valerian is a type of flowering plant used as an herb or supplement.
The dried roots of the plant are used to make valerian tea, which is sometimes used as a natural sleep aid.
Suggested read: How to fall asleep fast: 20 simple tips & tricks
While it’s unclear how valerian root works, it’s thought to boost levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces stress and promotes sleep.
Although a few studies show that valerian root can help treat anxiety, improve sleep quality, and enhance feelings of relaxation and calmness, specific research on the effects of valerian tea is limited.
Therefore, while some people might find that valerian tea works for them, additional studies are needed to better understand its effects.
6. Passionflower tea
Passionflower, sometimes referred to as Passiflora or maypop, is a plant that’s long been studied for its powerful medicinal properties.
Passionflower extract is available in tinctures and capsules and is widely used as an herbal supplement.
You can also brew the plant’s fresh or dried leaves into passionflower tea. It’s sometimes used as a natural remedy to treat anxiety and sleep issues.
According to a review of nine studies, passionflower herbal preparations — including teas, syrups, and tinctures — could act as a natural sedative and help relieve anxiety.
Another older study in 41 people showed that drinking 1 cup (237 mL) of passionflower tea per day for 1 week significantly improved subjective sleep quality, compared with placebo.
Pros and cons of drinking teas to help you sleep
- Having a cup of tea before bedtime can help create good sleep habits that the brain recognizes as a wind-down before slumber.
- Many find the warmth and aroma of tea comforting and soothing.
- Some teas are safe, easy options to try if you’re having sleep troubles.
- May not help severe cases of insomnia.
- Should be considered a supplementary tool to improve sleep troubles, not a cure-all.
- Scientific research on the efficacy of sleep-inducing teas is mixed.
- Drinking it too close to bed could wake you up at night to use the restroom.
Frequently asked questions
How long before bedtime should I drink my tea?
Give yourself enough time to sit and enjoy your tea with sufficient time to use the bathroom before bed.
Suggested read: 17 proven tips to sleep better at night
As a general rule of thumb, try to minimize your fluid intake at least 2 hours before bed.
This can help prevent you from having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, potentially making it hard to fall back asleep.
Are all sleepy time teas safe?
While teas are generally a safe way to combat sleep problems, some types contain natural supplements that aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If you’re taking medication, be sure to consult a doctor before using any new supplement, as some types can interact with prescription medications.
Similarly, consult a doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Not only is there limited research on the safety of some herbal supplements during pregnancy, but some compounds may negatively affect fetal growth or stimulate preterm labor.
Additionally, keep in mind that there have been reports of headaches, dizziness, and skin reactions after consuming certain herbs, including valerian root.
If you experience any negative side effects after consuming herbal tea, discontinue use and talk with a doctor.
How many cups of tea do I need to drink?
The amount of tea that you should drink per day depends on your personal preferences.
While enjoying 1 cup (237 mL) before bedtime is enough for many people, having 2–3 cups (473–710 mL) spread throughout the day may work well for others.
Ideally, start with a lower amount and increase slowly to assess your tolerance and prevent any potential side effects.
Keep in mind that drinking multiple cups of tea could increase the risk of nocturia, or frequent urination during the night, especially if you’re drinking them around bedtime.
As such, it may be beneficial to limit your fluid intake 2 hours before bed and use the bathroom before you sleep.
Herbal tea can be a simple, soothing addition to your bedtime routine. Many types are often used as natural remedies to promote relaxation and sleep.
Suggested read: 9 popular herbal medicines: Benefits and uses
Often, they’re made with herbs that affect specific neurotransmitters to potentially improve sleep quality, decrease stress and anxiety, and help you fall asleep faster.
However, current evidence on their benefits is weak and inconsistent. Plus, most research has focused on herbs in extract or supplement form and not as tea. Thus, more high-quality research is needed to better understand how herbal teas may improve sleep.
Since some herbs and supplements can interact with medications, it’s best to consult a doctor before adding herbal tea to your daily diet.
Still, while results can vary by individual, these teas may be worth adding to your nightly routine to help you wind down and relax before bed.
Creating a daily bedtime routine is a great way to enhance sleep quality. In addition to sipping on some of the herbal teas listed above, try minimizing screen time, meditating, listening to relaxing music, and sticking to a set bedtime.