Here at eve hq, we’ve witnessed the rise in popularity of herbal tea. And testament to this demand, supermarkets all over the UK are increasing the varieties they offer. So, is herbal tea the helping hand we’re after when it comes to sleep? And is it any specific herbal tea? Well, we took it upon ourselves to investigate.
Without further ado, here are the myths, the merits and the magic of drinking herbal tea for sleep.
herbal tea for sleep: the myths
Now, there are quite a few claims that relate to drinking herbal tea. So, we’ve categorised them into ones of myth and ones of merit. Debunking myths is much more fun and so, we’ve chosen to tackle this one first. Read on to discover which of the herbal tea claims can only be described as old wives’ tales. Which isn’t entirely fair, as some old wives’ tales do have the merit to back them up. Anyway…
herbal tea is made using real tea: false
So, herbal tea isn’t actually REAL tea? Well, they certainly had some of us fooled.
Herbal tea is not made using real tea (1).
And these infusions can be created using dried herbs, fresh leaves, flowers, grasses, roots, fruits and more. So the potential flavour combinations are endless which make this bedtime brew a versatile choice.
Given the way we prepare herbal tea for sleep at home (popping the teabag in a cup and pouring hot water over the teabag to result in a new flavour) is so similar to the method of preparing traditional tea, the term herbal tea seems appropriate.
Another interesting fact we stumbled across is: if you’re looking for a herbal tea in Europe, you may heard it being referred to as a tisane (4).
herbal tea is natural, so they are all safe: false again
So, while there are almost too many health benefits to drinking herbal tea – for sleep or otherwise – to count, some herbal teas do have side effects.
And the side effects of drinking herbal tea can include allergic reactions. Difficulty breathing, chest pain, a visible, raised or itchy rash (aka hives), or sudden swelling are all indicative of an allergic reaction (5).
Some types of herbal teas call also interact negatively with and prescription medication you are taking. Herbal teas may limit or even dangerously intensify the effects of some medications! So, you should always check with your GP before deciding to drink tea as a medicinal solution to ascertain whether or not it’s suitable for you (6).
you can drink as much herbal tea as you like: also false
With the benefits boasted by herbal teas, it’s very tempting to drink as much as you can as fast as possible. Surely, this will help you reach those benefits even quicker? This is simply not true.
Drinking too much herbal tea has the potential to cause unwanted side effects. And the unwanted side effects commonly associated with too much herbal tea include upset tummies, headaches, and – wait for it – sleep related issues (7). Not what we’re trying to achieve here at all.
So, if you want to reap all those herbal tea benefits and none of the side effects, it’s best to stick to 3-4 cups a day. Or, follow the brand-recommended intake guidelines.
herbal teas are safe to drink while pregnant or breastfeeding: not true!
Whether you’re a mum-to-be or breastfeeding, you should be aware that not all herbal teas are considered safe for you and your little one. And some could even be harmful (8).
But, four herbal teas that are deemed potentially safe to use for sleep while pregnant or breastfeeding are raspberry leaf, peppermint, ginger, and lemon balm tea. And even then, there are additional benefits to avoiding these during the first trimester of pregnancy (9).
If in doubt, always seek advice from your GP before drinking herbal teas during pregnancy.
herbal tea for sleep: the merits
In this section we intend to confirm (rather than debunk) some herbal tea myths. Basically, our research found that not all those herbal tea rumours are false. Read on to learn more about the merits of herbal tea.
herbal teas do not contain caffeine: true, mostly anyway
Most herbal teas are indeed caffeine free. And with the well-known connection between caffeine consumption and sleep disruption, this means you’ll be able to work most types of herbal tea into your bedtime routine without consequence.
However, as with most things, some exceptions do apply. Guarana tea (10) and yerba mate tea are two examples of herbal teas that do contain caffeine. So, these types of herbal tea are not going to help with sleep. In fact, yerba mate has almost as much caffeine as coffee!
Fans of fruity tea also need to be cautious. Many fruit-infused herbal teas are a blend of real tea leaves and various fruit flavourings. And remember, real tea leaves do contain caffeine.
If in doubt, check the label.
drinking herbal tea boosts your immune system: true
Herbal teas that are rich in antioxidants give your immune system a boost. Dandelion, ginseng, ginger, liquorice root tea are all examples of options that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins (11).
herbal tea helps with pain: true, ish
Some herbal teas - including (but not restricted to) fennel tea, rose hip tea, turmeric tea, and green tea – have natural anti-inflammatory qualities. And these anti-inflammatory qualities are great at easing all sorts of aches and pains (12). including headaches and migraines.
But, not all herbal teas ease pain for everyone.
herbal teas can help you sleep: again, true – to an extent
Herbal tea is easy to work into your bedtime routine. And, many of the varieties available are effective, natural remedies that help to promote relaxation which is the ultimate goal if you want to fall asleep faster.
Some herbal teas (such as chamomile tea and magnolia tea) are made using herbs (or flowers, or bark, etc) that have the potential to improve sleep quality by decreasing your stress and anxiety levels. This, in turn, should help you fall asleep faster (13).
herbal teas: the magic
The magic behind herbal tea is that there’s a blend that promises literally anything and everything. And there’s usually the science (or at very least, the research) to back up their claims too. So, let’s take a look at some of the many benefits boasted by herbal teas.
the benefits of herbal tea for sleep and beyond
Due to the volume of benefits, we’ve simplified them by arranging them in digestible bullet points. Find out more below
- Improve digestion. Some herbal teas actually strengthen your digestive system. They work to increase the blood flow to your digestive tract, absorb gas, increase metabolic rates, and even improve absorption of nutrients (14).
- Improve memory. Both traditional and some herbal teas are known to stimulate brain function. This can improve everything from concentration to memory (15).
- Enhance energy levels. Another example of why not all herbal teas are good for sleep. That said, those that give you an energy boost (such as yerba mate tea and guarana tea) usually do contain caffeine (16).
- Reduce nausea. Nausea is not a pleasant experience at any time. So, whether it’s morning sickness during pregnancy, or stomach-bug induced nausea, relieve it with a ginger or chamomile herbal tea (17).
- Lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Green tea especially has been attributed to lower cholesterol levels (18), while many herbal teas can help to minimise our stress and anxiety levels which is directly related to our blood pressures (19).
- They detoxify. Herbal teas can detoxify your body and your blood. And by removing the toxins in your body and blood, plenty of benefits will ensue. These include improved organ function; clearer, healthier-looking skin; and even an improved metabolism (20).
herbal tea for sleep: a final word
So, while there are plenty of benefits to drinking herbal tea, choosing the right one is key. Herbal tea can help with sleep by encouraging relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety but you will need to be sure to pick a caffeine-free blend. Unless you intend on pulling an all-nighter that is.
And if you’ve tried herbal tea without success, it might be time to inspect the old sleep surface. Here at eve, our aim is to help everyone achieve the zzzs they need to be their best selves. So, check out our award-winning mattress collection and snag yourself an enviable slumber.