The Tranquil Art of the Tea Ceremony + 9 Teas for Better Sleep
According to a survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than one in five Americans are sleeping worse than before the pandemic due to anxiety—what some are coining “Coronasomnia.”
Not regularly catching the recommended 7 or more hours of sleep a night can increase your risk of health conditions like diabetes, weight gain, hypertension and depression. That being said, there are natural remedies you can try to improve your ability to fall and stay asleep. We’re talking about herbal teas and their ability to induce sleep naturally.
Whether you sip them all day to stay cool, calm and collected, or just before bedtime, learning more about tea origins and the art of the tea ceremony can benefit sleep.
The Art of the Tea Ceremony
The Japanese tea ceremony also known as "the way of tea" or chanoyu dates back to over 500 years ago. It is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking green tea typically in a traditional tea room. Beyond just serving and receiving tea, one of the main purposes of the tea ceremony is for the guests to enjoy the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere distinct from the fast pace of everyday life. Preparing tea in this traditional ceremony calls for pouring all of one's attention into the predefined movements. The process is less about drinking tea and more about aesthetics —preparing a bowl of tea from one's heart.
Originally, chanoyu is a communication of the minds of hosts and guests through the enjoyment of delicious tea together but today, the tea ceremony can be used as a ritual of intention and quiet reflection. We encourage you to create your own Japanese tea ceremony – and enjoy its meditative qualities – at home.
9 Types of Tea for Better Sleep
To help you reap the benefits of preparing and drinking tea, we’ve rounded up the best types of tea for sleep. Incorporate one or all of these delicious herbal remedies into your own kind of nightly tea ceremony to help you relax and ready your mind and body for sleep. Each type of tea has different benefits for sleep which we’ve outlined below.
To Relieve Stress and Anxiety
The first types of tea for sleep have calming and stress-relieving effects. Most of these teas are herbal but if you opt for a tea with caffeine, make sure to drink it a few hours before bedtime to ensure it doesn’t keep you awake.
Chamomile tea is an herbal infusion made from dried flowers and hot water. It contains chemicals called flavonoids which are a nutrient that places a role in its medicinal effects. Chamomile tea is great for relaxation as it soothes nerves, anxiety and stress. It's full of an antioxidant called apigenin which has calming effects. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.
Lavender tea is made from the dried buds of the lavender flower and is great to sip before bed for its calming aroma and relaxation benefits. According to studies, lavender tea helps calm brain function by triggering chemical reactions in the nervous system. It also is commonly used in aromatherapy and bubble bath formulas, it's known for relaxing the body, lowering your heartbeat and settling the nerves.
Matcha tea is made from the camellia sinensis plant and contains high levels of L-theanine, a unique amino acid that promotes relaxation and stress relief. Matcha tea contains levels of caffeine however in combination with L-theanine, is known for creating a calm and meditative state. Matcha is the original type of tea prepared and enjoyed in chanoyu, so if you are interested in recreating a similar ceremony, be sure to read up on the preparation and etiquette of the Japanese tea ceremony.
To Boost GABA
GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. The following teas are known to increase levels of GABA and when present in abundant levels can increase sleepiness.
4. Valerian Root
Valerian tea made from the roots and underground stems of the valerian plant. Tea containing valerian root has been used for centuries to treat problems like nervousness and headaches but can also be used for those suffering from insomnia. Evidence shows that valerian can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and may also improve sleep quality.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm tea is made from a plant called balm or balm mint and has been used for reducing stress and improving sleep since the Middle Ages. Like valerian root tea, drinking it can increase your levels of GABA and decrease insomnia-related symptoms. It is also commonly used in essential oils for its aromatic benefits and has been shown to improve cognitive function and focus.
6. Magnolia Bark
Magnolia bark tea is made from the bark of the Magnolia plant and was used in Chinese medicine to alleviate abdominal discomfort, nasal congestion, and stress. By drinking magnolia bark tea before bed, it can help lower levels of anxiety and act as a sedative.
To Treat Pain and Restlessness
Having aches and pains can cause restlessness when trying to sleep. To help your body settle and prepare for sleep, try the following teas that alleviate pain and relax the muscles.
Peppermint tea is made from dried peppermint leaves and has been known to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. For those who suffer from headaches, sinus issues or upset stomach drinking the tea before bed can serve as a decongestant, soothe gastrointestinal ailments and act as a natural pain reliever.
Lemongrass tea is made from lemongrass stalks and is known for alleviating aches and pains as well as relaxing muscles. It’s full of antioxidants and is even used to ease menstrual cramps, fight infections and boost your immunity. Lemongrass tea is also rich in potassium, which increases blood circulation and lowers blood pressure in your body.
Rosehip tea is made from the pseudo-fruits of the rose plant. It contains anti-inflammatory agents that act as a natural analgesic, helping to relieve pain as well as vitamin C to help improve immunity. Rosehip tea is also high in compounds with anti-inflammatory effects, including polyphenols and galactolipids.
From helping you relax before bed to alleviating aches and pains, drinking tea can be a great way to introduce a little moment of zen into your nightly routine. To make the most of your bedtime tea ceremony, put on your coziest pajamas or loungewear to help your mind and body fully let go of the hustle and bustle of the day and prepare for sleep.