Teas and Tonics for a Good Night's Sleep

Contributor
Which tea or tonic helps you get the most Zzzs? Find out which herbs and ingredients can help put you to bed

Teas and Tonics for a Good Night's Sleep

Flickr/Jonathan Ball

Discovering which herbs, plants, and ingredients are “best for rest” can be a fun experiment. If you’re unsure what flavors you like, or how they will work, start with a single-ingredient tea. 

Lavender Tea

Flickr/Peter Reed

Since before the Middle Ages, lavender has been used to help people relax. Aromatherapy research shows that simply breathing its scent can relieve tension, improve mood, and alter brain waves. The best lavender often comes from the Mediterranean, especially Provence.

Chia Seed Drinks

Flickr/Mike Mozart

Chia seeds are considered a “super food” today, but the Mayans and Aztecs also thought they possessed amazing healing powers. They are high in tryptophan, which induces sleep, and the seeds can be enjoyed in a drink before bed. 

Nighttime Tea Blends

Flickr/Michael Pieracci

In addition to single ingredient teas, be sure to sample some blended teas and tonics. Puritan’s Pride has nine Nighttime Teas to try and there is something for almost any palate.

Milk

Flickr/JudithTB

Warm milk may not contain any particular amino acids or compounds that make you sleep, but the warmth that spreads through your belly has a calming effect, and there are theories that the temperature reminds us of the warm milk we were fed as infants. 

Lemon Balm Tea

Flickr/Jessica Lucia

Lemon balm doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it aids in relaxation and  reduces anxiety with its delicate lemon and mint scent and flavor. If you want a natural way to relieve stress, Traditional Medicinals’ Lemon Balm Tea works wonders and has loads of fresh lemon and mint flavors; but don’t sip this if you are taking hypothyroid medication. 

Passion Flower

Flickr/Isaac Wedin

Passion flower was a favored analgesic of the Aztecs and it has been used by healers throughout history because it reduces insomnia and is a mild sedative. Alvita’s Passion Flower Herbal Tea is best, but you may want to serve it with some honey and cinnamon to play down the tea’s vegetal character. 

Chamomile Tea

Flickr/FromSandToGlass

Scientists still aren’t sure why chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) has a calming, sleep-inducing effect, but it works for many  and pairs well with lavender, lemon balm, and valerian root in Taylors of Harrowgate’s Organic Chamomile Tea

Catnip Tea

Flickr/dbarronoss

Catnip is not just for the kitty. This herb has powerful anti-anxiety properties and helps calm the mind so you are lulled into a deep sleep. Try Teepee Dreams from the Native American Tea Company.  

Sour Cherry Juice

Flickr/Anssi Koskinen

Dark, sour cherries, like the Morello or Montmorency varieties, contain very high levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Their juice, combined with vanilla and honey, makes a lovely drink that will help you sleep and eliminate free radicals. You can use Swanson’s Organic Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate for the juice. 

Sleep Tonics

DreamWater

Sleep tonics or compounds are different from teas because they can be taken on their own, easily added to any of the aforementioned teas and tonics, and are often designed to alleviate specific conditions like insomnia. Try Sleep Tonic with Melatonin, Relaxing Sleep, or Dream Water.

Carob Powder

Flickr/toyohara

If you want a warm, chocolaty treat before bed, try making a hot drink using milk and carob powder. Carob powder tastes a lot like chocolate but contains high levels of vitamin B, which helps increase serotonin to help you sleep (and there's no caffeine).