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The 4 Best Bedtime Herbal Teas

Holly Lebowitz Rossi

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Learn how to brew the best tea for sleep by choosing herbs and flowers that are known to be calming, soothing and sleep-inducing.


Restless at nighttime? One of the best remedies is deeply inhaling the steam swirling up from a warm mug of tea.


Enjoying a cup of tea at night is a healthy ritual and can bring on peaceful sleep, according to Tammy Safi, author of the tea cookbook "Healthy Teas: Green, Black, Herbal, Fruit."


Safi recommends teas for sleep not only because of the soothing routine of making and sipping tea, but also because the content of your cuppa — the right herbal ingredients — can help ease you into sleep.


"Herbal tea for sleep has a relaxing, calmative effect on the mind and the body," said Safi, an herbalist and nutritionist based in Sydney, Australia.


Perfect Your Herbal Tea Brewing Technique

Safi advises brewing loose tea rather than using packaged tea bags. Commercial tea bags may contain plastics or other synthetics, and produced tea tends to include "remnants or leftovers, not the useful bits of the plant," said Safi.


Visit a natural grocery store or order online to get whole herbs, including flowers like lavender or chamomile, to get the most out of every cup.


Using a strainer or unbleached tea filter bag, Safi recommends adding herbal tea leaves and flowers to almost-boiling water. Allow them to steep for 5-10 minutes to enable the maximum amount of healthy, relaxing natural chemicals to infuse the hot water.


Enjoy tea throughout the evening, letting it cue your mind and body to prepare for sleep. Just be sure to visit the bathroom before bed, as herbal tea is a relaxation tool but also a beverage.


Choose the Best Herbs for Bedtime Tea

Safi cautions that some herbal tea infusions can actually undermine your sleep-inducing intentions.


Mint, for example, is relaxing to the digestive system, but it is also stimulating to the mind, she said. And valerian, an herb that's featured in many "sleepy" tea blends, can have the effect of exciting or overstimulating the mind and body if taken in too high a dose—not ideal for bedtime.


Still, there are many herbs to turn to for a cup of tea that soothes, calms and invites your relaxed body and peaceful mind to drift off into a restorative night of sleep.


Lemon Balm

Also called by its botanical name "Melissa," lemon balm is a mild, soothing tea with a combination of lemon and mint flavors that come through in every gentle sip.


According to Safi, lemon balm is often used by herbalists in treating depression, so its relaxing, mood-boosting benefits makes it a natural tea for sleep.



Chamomile flowers have a gently floral aroma when brewed as tea. In addition to having a relaxing impact on the mind, Safi says chamomile is an antispasmodic herb that is beneficial to digestion.


"People working hard and working late put their evening meals off too late," Safi said, so chamomile is a "very calming" way to digest enough to ease into sleep.


You can even grow your own chamomile plants in the summertime and dry the tiny white flowers for teas that warm you up and calm you down all year long.



Safi calls cinnamon a "beautiful" tea for sleep, particularly in the wintertime when its warming effects are as welcome as its sleep-inducing ones. Infuse whole cinnamon sticks into herbal teas or break up whole sticks into bits that can be steeped in a strainer or bag.


As Safi puts it, cinnamon "relaxes the body, warms it and makes it go into that 'mmmmm' state."


If you need other helpful nighttime routines and tips on improving your z's, sign up for the free Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number. It's "a systematic way to slowly introduce good sleep habits and end bad ones," according to Leslie H. in Bentonville, AR.*



The oils in lavender give it an aroma that is relaxing to sip, smell or even soak in by dropping some essential oils into a warm bath.


Be sure to purchase culinary-grade lavender flowers — or dry your own from your organic summer garden — to steep for a relaxing cup of tea. And know that science is on your side. One research study connected lavender aromatherapy and tea drinking with better sleep and less anxiety among postpartum women in Taiwan.


Creative Combinations for Bedtime Teas

The beauty of herbal tea — especially when you brew your tea from loose leaves and flowers — is that different herbs can be combined to bring out particular flavors and scents that please you and ease you into sleep. For example, lemon balm and chamomile are often combined for a beautifully floral cup.


Also, even though herbal teas' subtle flavors are enjoyable just as they are, Safi also recommends stirring a drizzle of honey into tea infusions for a touch of natural sweetness as well as an additional soothing, calming effect.


Want even better sleep? Sleepers who routinely use their Sleep Number smart bed features and SleepIQ® technology get almost 100 hours more proven quality sleep per year.**


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.


*Participant received InnerCircle℠ Rewards loyalty points for doing challenge.


**Based on internal analysis of sleep sessions assessing sleepers who use multiple features of Sleep Number® products. Claim based on sleepers achieving over 15 more minutes of restful sleep per sleep session.


About the Author

Holly Lebowitz Rossi is a freelance writer and editor based in Arlington, Massachusetts. Holly is coauthor, with the yoga teacher Liz Owen, of two books about yoga and wellness—The Yoga Effect: A Proven Program for Depression and Anxiety, (Da Capo, 2019) and Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back: A Practical Guide to Developing Strength and Relieving Pain (Shambhala, 2013). Her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Guideposts, NPR, Shondaland, and Parenting, among other print and online publications.

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