Can't Sleep? Try a Cup of Herbal Tea

Sleep, or the lack thereof, is a common topic of conversation these days. It doesn't seem to matter what your age is, whether you’re a college student or a senior citizen, the inability to fall asleep and continue to sleep soundly is definitely a challenge. Many of us complain that we toss back and forth as we try to relax into slumber, then wake up and repeat the process until we finally float back into dreamland. This is only to find we hear the morning alarm ringing minutes later. The next day we’re exhausted and robbed of a good night's rest. While a cup of tea won't be the remedy for serious cases of insomnia, it can certainly help some of us unwind before we hit the sheets which will undoubtedly help us drift off peacefully. Try these tips to start your evening herbal tea ritual and you'll be off to a fragrant and delicious end to your day in no time. (If you take medications or have health concerns, consult your physician before ingesting herbs of any kind.)
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  • Chamomile

  • This herbal tea is by far the most well know when it comes to sleep aids. Chamomile tea has been a traditional herbal remedy for sleep problems dating back to ancient times. Chrysin, a flavonoid found in the herb is credited for its sleep-promoting effects. The chamomile herb is a European plant from the daisy family with white and yellow flowers. Most often you'll find two varieties available - German and Roman. Chamomile has a grassy, earthy taste and is often mixed with vanilla, lemon, rose petals, lavender, and other herbs when purchased in loose leaf or tea bags.
  • Lavender

  • Lavender is a shrub known for its exotic floral aroma and tiny purple flowers. Tea lovers attribute the flowery aroma to the impact it has on relaxation. Lavender originated in the mountains of the Mediterranean but is grown all over the world thanks to its hearty nature. The flower is known to have an impact on the nervous system which could help promote sleep, but the effects on the nervous system aren’t beneficial if you’re scheduled for surgery, so avoid it in that case. Lavender tea is almost always mixed with other herbs like chamomile, or combined citrus rinds when purchased in loose leaf form.
  • Passionflower

  • This flower was named for it’s resemblance to and image of the crucifixion of Christ when it was originally discovered by Spanish Jesuits in Peru. Peruvians used the flower as a sedative dating back to the 17th century, and it’s still in use today for its calming influence on the body. There are approximately 500 varieties of this useful plant. While it contains a number of flavonoids, glycosides, and organic acids, it’s the amino acid called “GABA” produced in the brain that is thought to generate a feeling of calmness. Passionflower is often steeped with one teaspoon of flowers to one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. If you’re pregnant or nursing avoid passionflower as it contains a compound that can induce contractions.
  • Lemon Balm

  • Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and a perennial herb with a tiny white flower that grows easily in home gardens. This helpful sleep aid has leaves with a lemon and honey aroma. It’s a plant native to Europe but is grown all over the world. Lemon Balm is rich in antioxidants elevating a healthy immune system and has a variety of compounds known to nurture relaxation and induce a deeper more restful sleep. Lemon Balm is often combined with valerian or chamomile. Lemon Balm may interact with certain thyroid medications so seek medical advice prior to using this minty herb in your next cup of tea.
  • How to Steep a Cup of Tea

  • Die-hard tea drinkers will have their own opinions as to how to brew the perfect cup of tea, but in general, you can try these suggestions to see which method you works for you. Use fresh, cold water that is preferably filtered of impurities. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a tea kettle or small saucepan. You want hot, hot water as lukewarm water won’t pull the oils from the tea into your cup. Place loose leaf tea in a strainer, or add bags to the cup and cover it with a small plate to keep essential oils from escaping with the steam. Different types of teas will require either longer or shorter steeping times, so follow the directions on the box or bag. In most cases, you’ll want to keep herbal teas from becoming bitter so steeping them from 5 - 10 minutes should do the trick. You’ll need to experiment with steeping times to determine what best suits you.
  • How to Drink Your Tea to Facilitate a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Many herbal teas are naturally sweet, but if you prefer a sweeter cup of tea, try using a drizzle of honey. Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can benefit your health and makes it the perfect accompaniment to teas natural sleep benefits. Many tea drinkers prefer a splash of cream or milk in their cup finding that is can reduce the sometimes bitter taste of herbal teas. Sticking to a nighttime schedule is key so get your tea brewing an hour before you hit the sheets and sit quietly while you sip allowing that steaming cup to soothe and calm you before you head to bed. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, you'll be ready for a good night's rest. Don't plan on a second cup unless you plan on extra trips to the bathroom, which would completely defeat your tea drinking slumber plan.

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