Chamomile Tea for Sleep
Everyone has a bad night’s sleep every once in a while, but approximately 40 million people across the country struggle with insomnia on a regular basis, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Trouble sleeping can manifest in tossing and turning for hours trying to get to sleep, waking frequently throughout the night or finding it hard to go back to sleep after waking. Lack of sleep can impact many areas of your life, but there are natural treatments you can try, including drinking chamomile tea.
What Happens When You Have Trouble Sleeping
Not sleeping well can bring bigger problems than just feeling tired or having trouble concentrating the next day. Here are just a few of the common side effects of not getting enough sleep:
- Increased risk of accidents. Lack of sleep can cause the same concentration and focus issues while driving that drinking alcohol does. Those who don’t sleep also have a higher risk of experiencing on-the-job injuries. Insomnia can also impact your problem-solving ability and how well you remember information.
- Impaired judgment. For some, insomnia becomes a way of life and caffeine a daily necessity, but not getting enough sleep can make you more likely to make poor decisions, including thinking that you don’t really need a full night’s sleep because you’re used to functioning on so little.
- Physical health problems. Lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure and obesity.
- Increased risk of depression. While many people may think of depression as sleeping all the time, insomnia is also a common side effect. This can create a negative cycle where the depression and insomnia feed off of each other and worsen as time goes on.
Why Chamomile Tea Is Effective
Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties help calm the body, and it also has a mild sedative effect. This is because one of the active ingredients in chamomile, apigenin, binds with the brain’s benzodiazepine receptors, which puts the body in a calm, sleepy state.
Chamomile tea is also naturally decaffeinated, so you get the calming benefits without the risk of being re-energized by the naturally occurring caffeine in black and green teas. Drinking tea as part of your bedtime wind-down routine can also help you fall asleep more easily because your body gets used to the routine and identifies it as a cue to prepare for sleep.
Using Chamomile Tea as a Natural Sleep Aid
Drinking chamomile tea is one of the easiest and most convenient natural treatments for mild insomnia or other sleep troubles. It’s best to prepare and drink herbal tea around the same time every night to establish a routine. It’s also important to drink the tea a bit before bedtime — around 60 to 90 minutes before you plan on turning off the lights — to give the tea time to work and your body time to relax.
Preparation is also important, as the tea must be strong enough to provide enough of the active ingredient to produce the sleep response in the body. Using two to three tea bags per serving and brewing the traditional way with hot water on the stove helps you get the most use out of the tea bags. It also helps to cover any extra brewed tea to keep the oils, which are where the active ingredients are concentrated, from evaporating.
Most people can use chamomile tea without any side effects, but just like with any other substance, there is always a slight risk of an allergic reaction. If you have a family history of allergies, specifically with the Aster family of plants, it’s a good idea to get your doctor’s OK before trying chamomile. Chamomile tea is considered safe for pregnant and nursing women, but the recommended dosage and brew strength is different for babies and should be approved by a pediatrician before use.