How does herbal tea for sleep affect your body?

How does herbal tea for sleep affect your body?

How does herbal tea for sleep affect your body? - Getting a good night's sleep is so crucial for our health and well-being, yet sleep difficulties plague many, both occasionally and chronically. Whether it's trouble falling asleep, frequent awakening, or not feeling properly rested upon waking, insufficient sleep exacts a grave toll. Fortunately, nature provides soothing herbal options to aid in relaxation and promote more restful slumber. Herbal tea, made from calming botanicals like chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm, has been used as a sleep remedy for centuries. Below, we will explore the science behind how common herbal tea ingredients impact our body and mind to facilitate sleep when consumed in the evenings.

Stress Relief Properties

Many sleep teas contain calming herbs that help relieve stress and anxiety, two factors that are strongly linked to poor sleep. Chamomile is one of the most widely used sleep-promoting herbs. It has anti-anxiety properties due to its apigenin and bisabolol components. Studies show chamomile can enhance GABA activity in the brain, which is responsible for reducing nervous system overactivity associated with stress and inducing feelings of calmness. Passionflower is another herb frequently added to sleep teas for its anti-stress compounds like harmine and harmaline. Both chamomile and passionflower work within 30 minutes to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in the bloodstream. It is easier for the body and mind to relax in preparation for sleep with reduced stress and cortisol levels.

How does herbal tea for sleep affect your body?

Relaxation of Muscles

Beyond relieving mental stress, certain herbal tea ingredients provide muscle relaxation, addressing another major cause of insomnia. Lemon balm tea, with its components rosmarinic acid and melisaide, is highly effective at soothing sore, tense muscles throughout the body. Studies show lemon balm may intensify the effects of GABA, further contributing to relaxation. Valerian root, one of the most potent sleep aids found in nature, directly binds to GABA receptors in the brain and spinal cord to induce calmness and loosen tight muscles. Within 1-2 hours after drinking valerian tea, skeletal muscles lose tension, making it easier to achieve a comfortable sleeping position. With relaxed muscles and reduced stress levels courtesy of these relaxing herbs, the body can naturally wind down in preparation for slumber.

Regulation of Sleep Cycle Hormones & Neurotransmitters

Getting quality, undisturbed sleep each night requires balanced levels of certain hormones and neurotransmitters. Some compounds in herbal teas can beneficially influence these sleep regulators. Melatonin is a significant hormone for initiating and maintaining sleep, and hops flower, commonly added to bedtime teas, contains precursors that facilitate higher melatonin production. Lemon balm and chamomile have also shown the ability to boost melatonin levels in studies. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter closely tied to mood, depression and sleep patterns. Several herbs, such as lemon balm, passionflower and hops, enhance serotonin levels and activity. As these calming herbs increase serotonin and melatonin levels while reducing stress hormones like cortisol through their relaxing properties, they help optimize conditions for natural, deep sleep.

Specific Herbs and Their Effects

Beyond generalized relaxation, certain herbs provide other targeted physiological benefits related directly to sleep:

  • Lavender has a calming scent that promotes relaxation. Studies show just the aroma of lavender can lower heart rate and reduce restlessness. It also inhibits neuron firing in the brain's sleep centre to help fall asleep faster.
  • Catnip contains nepetalactone, which encourages the production of adenosine, a chemical building up in the body throughout the day that makes us sleepy. Adenosine levels peak at night, signalling it is time for rest.
  • Hops flower phytoestrogens bind to the same receptors in the brain as valerian for relaxation. Hops also contain lupulin and humulones, which act as mild sedatives.
  • Lemon balm boosts serotonin and reduces excitatory neurotransmitters like acetylcholine to lower brain activity and heart rate.
  • Chamomile contains apigenin and other flavonoids that inhibit neuronal firing and reduce stimulation in the brain associated with anxiety and insomnia.

Potential Benefits Beyond Sleep

Drinking herbal tea for sleep regularly provides benefits beyond simply falling asleep easier and staying asleep through the night. Studies indicate chamomile, passionflower, and other calming herbs used in sleep teas may:

  • Reduce symptoms of mild depression and anxiety due to stress-relieving effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin
  • Help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels by lowering stress responses in the body
  • Strengthen immunity through antioxidant effects from flavonoids like apigenin
  • Improve digestion by relaxing the gut and calming cramping/spasms
  • Promote clearer thinking during the day by optimizing nightly sleep restoration
  • Decrease inflammation in the body through anti-inflammatory plant compounds
  • Alleviate headaches or migraines when disrupted sleep is a common trigger

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While herbal tea for sleep is quite safe for most individuals when used moderately, you cannot neglect possible side effects or interactions.

  • Valerian root may cause drowsiness or headaches in some people when consumed in large amounts. Start with small doses.
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before using Valerian or Passionflower.
  • People taking certain medications should check for potential drug interactions, especially sedative drugs or blood thinners.
  • Those with liver or kidney disease must take extra precautions depending on the herb.
  • Individuals experiencing ongoing sleep issues despite herbal teas should see a physician to rule out underlying causes.

Drinking a soothing herbal tea before bedtime is a time-tested way to relax the body and mind in preparation for healthy, deep sleep. Selecting calming plant ingredients like chamomile, lemon balm and hops, then enjoying a steaming cup 1-2 hours before bed allows time for relaxation effects to take hold. With regular use, herbal tea for sleep can cultivate improved sleep quality and quantity along with additional health benefits, both mental and physical. For most people, adopting this natural sleep aid provides an enjoyable and gentle solution for achieving nightly restorative rest.

Back to blog