Is herbal tea the key to a good night's sleep?
The British consume around 60 billion cups of tea a year, with 84% of us enjoying tea or herbal infusions every day. But is it true that certain blends of herbs can help to promote a good night's sleep? There's not much hard research on the subject, but with certain plants having a proven sedative effect, a relaxing cup of tea might just be the key to sweet dreams.
There's one ingredient that's common to all bedtime teas and that's chamomile. Meaning 'ground apple', chamomile has been used as a natural remedy since Roman and Egyptian times and is claimed to have a range of health benefits including soothing stomach cramps and treating cuts and wounds. That's because chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant.
Lavender, the scent of sleep
Research has shown that lavender can ease insomnia and anxiety, particularly when you sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil over your pillow or use a sleep spray. However, enjoying the scent of a lavender tea at bedtime was proven to introduce positive sleep changes in a 2005 study.
Mint, the relaxant
The menthol in mint is a known muscle relaxant, making it ideal to ease digestion. There's a reason why most antacids contain peppermint! If you have trouble sleeping because of indigestion or heartburn, then peppermint tea can help you sleep better. And since mint is so easy to grow, plant a few seeds in the garden and you'll always have some on hand for a soothing cuppa.
The perfect night-time tea
Combining chamomile, lavender and peppermint could be the key to helping you relax and sleep well. You can source dried flowers at a health food shop or online, or buy chamomile tea bags and infuse with leaves of fresh mint and sprigs of lavender from the garden - both are easy to grow in pots or window boxes if you're short of space. Want a bedtime wow factor? Then froth some hot milk and create a herbal tea latte. Or for those hot summer nights where you want something cool, pour your freshly brewed tea into a Mason jar and store in the fridge. Add ice cubes and fresh herbs for an iced tea bedtime treat.