It is easy to turn to using sleeping pills when you can’t sleep but that shouldn’t be the case. There are plenty of natural sleep aids such as herbal infusions or herbal teas, meditation, positive thinking, light exercise, hypnosis, massage, and much more that can help you and not just for the short-term. Why don’t we explore the benefits of teas as natural sleep aids and hopefully help you get better sleep?
But first, let’s take a look into…
Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep
As there are plenty of natural remedies to help you sleep better, the same goes for having trouble falling asleep.
The reasons to why you can’t sleep can be linked to not having enough sunlight, lack of exercise, bad diet, poor sleep hygiene, taking stimulating foods and drinks, using some medications, bad work schedule, imbalance of neurotransmitters, inadequate levels of some minerals, or perhaps even because of an underlying hormonal issue.
And that’s not even all yet…
What you should know is that is that having trouble falling asleep is rarely a simple problem. It is often a multifactorial issue that needs to be addressed at the root cause.
Why Taking Sleeping Pills Are Not a Long-Term Solution if You Have Trouble Sleeping
Taking sleeping pills is not a cure for your trouble sleeping. Like any foreign substance to the body, sleeping pills have side effects that can be bad for the body more so when taken long-term.
How do sleeping pills work?
- Some sleeping pills help you fall asleep better than others because they cause sedation or a depression of your central nervous system, literally helping you wind down. Barbiturates fall into this and they’re notoriously prone to overdose.
- Sleeping pills that are benzodiazepines cause you to get drowsy so you can fall asleep faster, but they have addictive properties.
- Some newer sleeping pills help you feel sleepy and are not as habit-forming as benzodiazepines, but they still carry a risk for physical dependence aka addiction.
- Other new sleeping pills help your body produce more melatonin so that you’ll feel sleepy. Although they are not habit-forming, prolonged use can still have negative side effects such as disrupting your other normal body processes.
- What’s left to do, then?
Well, why not turn to natural sleep aids?
Why Natural Sleep Aids Can Help You Sleep Better Than Sleeping Pills
This section isn’t really about pitting natural sleep aids versus sleeping pills; but more of exploring the reasons why one is more beneficial if you want long-term results.
Sleep scientists have already talked about the dangers of using sleeping pills so we won’t go deep into that anymore. Rather, we will focus on why natural sleep aids can help you sleep better than sleeping pills.
The Science Behind Natural Remedies for Sleep
Natural remedies for sleep work with the body’s natural processes to induce sleep and promote better sleep.
You may have heard about how drinking milk can help make you feel sleepy. That is true because milk contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan helps increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a natural sedative. Serotonin helps you relax. It can also help you fall asleep when it is converted by the body to melatonin.
So that’s how milk helps you fall asleep faster!
Note that some sleep experts argue that the tryptophan in a glass of milk isn’t really that significant to induce sleep. Still, they can’t say for sure that the effect is just psychological, so let’s leave it at that. This is just an example of how effective tryptophan is for sleep, after all.
It’s not just food that contains tryptophan that is great for helping you fall asleep. One mineral that’s been gaining a lot of attention for its ability to help promote sleep is magnesium.
Magnesium makes you fall asleep by helping your brain and body to relax.
Magnesium is able to do this because it can regulate neurotransmitters (that regulates your brain and nervous system) and the hormone melatonin. It also attaches to gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, which will, in turn, help your nerve activities to slow down thereby inducing a relaxed state that helps you fall asleep.
Because of the above, magnesium also has the added benefit of promoting better sleep. The more relaxed you are, the better the quality of the sleep you’ll get.
Okay, enough of the science talk.
Teas as Natural Sleep Aids
It is still debated whether teas as natural sleep aids is a real thing because not enough research has been done so far (for so many reasons that are worth another article). What isn’t debated, though, is the fact that sipping non-stimulating warm or hot drinks before bed can induce sleep and promote better sleep.
But how can sipping warm drinks help with sleep?
Warm or hot drinks works on the same principle as taking a hot bath can help you relax and promote better sleep. It helps the body to cool down.
Wait, a HOT drink helping the body to cool down?
Yes! When you sweat and it evaporates, it creates a cooling down sensation that signals the brain that the day has gone by and it is time for rest.
So yes, drinking warm or hot tea can help you fall asleep and get better sleep as long as you avoid taking caffeinated ones such as black tea, white tea, and some types of green tea.
Are these all that supports why teas are great as natural sleep aids?
There’s more to know!
Don’t forget that there are hundreds of types of teas out there with unique ingredients and compositions. This means that some teas work as natural remedies for sleep problems because they work beyond the ‘comforting’ effect they provide.
The benefits of drinking tea are certainly a good thing to know considering that tea is the most consumed beverage in the world second only to water according to National Geographic.
Tea, Tisane, Infusion – What Are Their Differences?
The difference between a tea, a tisane, and an infusion is a matter of technicality.
What is the definition of tea?
Technically speaking, tea is defined as a drink made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant (as how true tea is defined) though true tea can vary in taste and appearance depending on how the leaves of the plant were processed.
What is a tisane?
Tisanes are commonly referred to as herbal teas. Tisanes are technically not true tea because they didn’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant but rather feature ingredients that are made with seeds, roots, berries, barks, and leaves of other plants. Tisanes can include spices as well.
What is an infusion?
Now that we know that the difference between a true tea and a tisane or herbal tea lies in the ingredients or the composition of the drink, we will differentiate the two from an infusion.
For a drink to be called an infusion, it has to be steeped longer than a tea and contain ingredients other than those derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant such as herbs, bark, root, and even fruits. The water has to be just about boiling as well and not allowed to cool down a bit as what is used in tea. More so, because infusions often contain more ingredients that are allowed to infuse the water for longer, they are usually deemed more nutritious than teas and can be referred to as tonics as well.
One thing is for sure – knowing the specific terms for your drink is not really an issue unless you’re talking to true tea connoisseurs. You may use the terms tea, tisane, and infusion interchangeably because no one’s going to check what is in your drink and for how long you’ve steeped it.
Now that the tea talk is done, let’s move on to the best herbal teas for sleep!
Benefits of Chamomile Tea for Sleep
Chamomile tea has a lot of benefits that go beyond sleep. It works for people with trouble sleeping because of the following benefits of chamomile tea:
- Chamomile has antidepressant qualities and can help with managing anxiety
- Chamomile tea can work as a mild tranquilizer as it relaxes the nerves and muscles because of its calming effects
- Chamomile can calm upset bellies and promote general relaxation
Technically, chamomile tea is a tisane. It may not be for everyone though, as chamomile can be an allergen for some.
Benefits of Valerian Root Tea for Sleep
Valerian root tea, or rather, valerian root infusion, is the stronger alternative for those whose sleep problems were not addressed by chamomile tea.
It boasts of being able to provide real improvement for drinkers who manifest insomnia symptoms because the benefits of valerian root tea include:
- Acting as a strong natural sedative and is thought to increase the levels of GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid which promotes relaxation.
- Little to no morning sleepiness unlike some sleeping pills
- Improved quality of sleep because valerian root tea promotes REM sleep hence resulting in better quality sleep.
Valerian root tea is an infusion that needs at least 5 minutes of steeping before drinking and needs a few weeks of usage to achieve the best results.
Benefits of Lemon Balm Tea for Sleep
Lemon Balm tea is one of those drinks that people have been taking for ages to help with falling asleep.
Some of the benefits of lemon balm tea and why people have been taking it as an infusion for sleep are:
- Can calm down anxiety
- Can reduce stress
- Can address indigestion
- Can reduce insomnia
Lemon balm tea is commonly consumed as a lemon balm tisane mixed with other herbs to get the best results. Because of its minty lemony taste, it is often combined with other ingredients such as valerian root to improve the taste of the herbal infusions it is a part of.
Lemon balm infusion is believed to help increase the levels of GABA thereby relaxing the body and promoting better sleep. It is usually made by steeping lemon balm leaves in hot water for more than 5 minutes.
Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep
In a study published in the National Institutes of Health, it was found that tart cherry juice can help people with insomnia sleep better. The same findings were reflected in a study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics regarding the use of tart cherry juice for sleep. They found out that people with insomnia who drink tart cherry juice twice a day were able to sleep longer and fall asleep faster as compared to the placebo group.
Other benefits of tart cherry juice that may help with sleep include:
- Can reduce the symptoms of gout and arthritis – no pain and discomfort can promote better sleep
- Can provide you with enough levels of tryptophan that your body can convert to serotonin and then melatonin, making tart cherry juice one of the best natural sleep aids
The benefits of tart cherry juice for sleep problems are usually harnessed by drinking it alone but it can also be added as an ingredient to herbal infusions.
Benefits of Passion Flower Tea for Sleep
Passion Flower tea is well-loved by people who suffer from obsessive and anxious thoughts.
Other benefits of passion flower tea that can help promote sleep are:
- Can alleviate indigestion and upset stomach
- Can relax the nervous system and help improve sleep quality for short-term use because it increases the level of GABA in the brain
Passion flower is not just one type of flower but rather a whole genus of plants belonging to the same family. They grow on vines and are typically combined with other calming drinks depending on the specific reason they are taken for (there are many benefits of passion flower, not just for sleep).
Benefits of Lavender Tea for Sleep
Lavender is well known for its ability to reduce stress and melt away anxiety. Although lavender tea for sleep is quite popular, some say it is the scent and not the ingested compounds in it that really helps with promoting better sleep.
So how does lavender scent help you fall asleep?
- Smelling lavender can relax your brain because Lavender oil is composed mainly of linalool and linalyl acetate, substances that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can inhibit stimulating neurotransmitters
- Lavender scent can also slow down heart rate (making your body relax)
- Lavender have mild sedating and pain-relieving properties too
By drinking lavender tea or some type of herbal infusion of lavender for sleep, you will be taking advantage of the relaxing effects of drinking a warm drink before bed plus the aromatherapy effects of lavender!
Benefits of Cinnamon Tea for Sleep
Cinnamon tea is usually consumed as a cinnamon infusion for sleep (with other ingredients) or often added to add taste to warm milk.
There is no scientific explanation just yet as to why cinnamon is used by people with insomnia and sleeping problems because studies in it have shown that it is great for increasing alertness.
The current theory is that cinnamon tea is great for promoting relaxation because of its aromatherapy effects.
Benefits of Red Rose Tea for Sleep
If you’re looking for the benefits of red rose tea for sleep and can find little material available, this can be because it is more popularly known as rosebud tea or simply rose tea.
Aside from sleep benefits, red rose tea has risen in popularity because of its tonic-like effects, having quite a lot of vitamin C and trace minerals in it. The small amount of aromatherapy oil in it is great for treating anxiety, grief, and depression and also acts a mild laxative.
Benefits of Banana and Banana Peel Tea for Sleep
Who would have thought that bananas and banana peel tea have amazing benefits for sleep?
Well, banana and banana peels are rich in magnesium and potassium. By eating a banana, or better yet, drinking banana peel tea before bed, it would be like taking a magnesium supplement before bed that’s cheaper and more readily available!
By the way, potassium can help your muscles and blood vessels relax. This is why banana and banana peel tea is effective for helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Benefits of Hops Tea for Sleep
Hops is commonly known as an ingredient for making beer, so reading about the benefits of hops tea for sleep can be quite new to you. The truth is, hops is great for relieving stress, calming nerves, and relaxing the body; making it an ideal ingredient for a bedtime drink. Time to try hops in your herbal infusions, perhaps?
Conclusion: The Best Natural Sleep Aids When You Can’t Sleep Could Be Teas All Along!
Think about it, the majority of the herbals teas or herbal infusions that made it in this write-up have been used by people around the world for centuries! Surely, they won’t be as popular if they do not work. After all, most of the synthetic compounds that are found in commercial supplements were developed from plants.
What are the best natural sleep aids that worked for you when you can’t sleep? Have you tried other natural remedies for sleep besides drinking tea or infusions? Feel free to share them with us!