To Tea or Not to Tea: Does Tea for Sleep Work?
If you’re new to the world of natural sleep aids, you might not be aware of the hotly debated subject of sleep aid teas and their proposed benefits to insomnia sufferers.
To boil it down (pardon the pun), it all revolves around many claims that there are teas that help you sleep better by inducing restfulness and alleviating symptoms associated with restlessness at night, aka anxiety and stress.
However, at the heart of this promise is a dire lack of substantial scientific evidence to back it up – even though many of the ingredients in these sleepy teas do have proven track records as sleep aids.
Often this is brushed to the side by pointing out that the lack of evidence is only due to a lack of scientific research in the first place.
As you can see, it’s heavy stuff. You might want to put the kettle on and settle in for the debate.
Why we love the nightly cup of tea for sleep
For insomnia sufferers, or just regular people who struggle to drift off each night, the most important thing to is finding your way to that feeling of relaxation.
If you can relax and de-stress, then quality slumber is just a couple counts of sheep away.
And the combination of heat, steam and a lovely cup of something warm and soporific is a damn effective, all-natural method for inducing this feeling of homely relaxation; and thus tea is the perfect candidate.
And why not? It’s lower in caffeine than coffee or other sweetened drinks (especially if you seek out decaf varieties), many of the different infusions help to settle everything from anxiety, depression to wakefulness – all massive causes of twisted sheets and baggy eyes.
We love the idea of a nightly sleepy tea because it’s easy to believe and it’s pleasant, and marketers know that.
But is there any truth to tea for sleep?
Why some pooh pooh the thought of tea for sleeping better
Many believe that the supposed sleep inducing aspect of tea is simply a placebo – in fact, there is more scientific evidence to substantiate this claim than there are to back up the benefits, for example this study in the BioMed Central Journal, which showed no difference between a herbal tea drinking group and a placebo group.
Others argue that the herbal infusions aren’t real or “true” teas, seeing as an authentic tea does contain caffeine, whereas herbal infusions do not – as we know, the more caffeine the less sleep, generally.
The argument follows that drinking herbal tea doesn’t necessarily stop the feeling of wakefulness or insomnia, but that it simply doesn’t do anything to help those feelings – that it’s basically flowery water which creates the feeling of doing something.
To tea or not tea?
An important note on the scientific front is that most, if not all, studies into the positive effects of tea were based upon subjects’ own reporting of their symptoms, opening the results up to human error and personal bias.
That being said, when looking at the variety of herbal remedies that are available to us and have been in popular usage for treatment against anxiety, depression, blood pressure and mental hyperactivity (Valerian root, Chamomile tea, Passionflower tea), we can see effective results.
Why should these then be any different when the same ingredients are infused in warm water, or added to tea via drops or tinctures? Logic argues that they shouldn’t, and if anything, may even be improved upon by the natural relaxing elements of warm tea itself.
There are convincing arguments on both sides of the fence, but isn’t that the case for nearly everything under the sun? If one person finds that nightly Chamomile tea an hour before bed relaxes them (placebo or not) and helps with a comfortable sleep, who are we, or anybody else to doubt that?
Why not try some for yourself, and see what works or doesn’t work for you? That’s the only real way you’ll get clear results until more scientific research is carried out. Plus, lots of lovely tea!
Ready to get your sip on? Get the low down on the best teas to help you sleep.