Is the connection between chamomile tea and a great night’s sleep just an old wive’s tale or the real deal?
Does chamomile tea help you sleep or is this the stuff of fiction?
“Fiction” you say!
Whenever I think about the potential calming effects of chamomile tea I am reminded of the children’s book “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, written and illustrated in 1902 by English author, Beatrix Potter.
Mrs Rabbit made Peter Rabbit a cup of chamomile tea when he complained of a stomach ache and was unable to sleep.
“One table-spoonful to be taken at bedtime”, said Mrs Rabbit.
Fiction or otherwise, surely if an author from the late 19th/early 20th century was writing about the sleep-promoting properties of chamomile tea, there has to be something to this.
Chamomile Tea – The Facts
Chamomile is a herb that has been consumed for many centuries, and it is believed to date back to ancient Egypt. It is amember of the Asteraceae plant family and resembles a daisy-like flower. Its scientific name is matricaria recutita.
Chamomile tea is a popular alternative to black or green tea and it is known to offer many health benefits. Over the years it has been used to treat various health conditions, including colds, allergies, muscle spasms, ulcers, wounds, hemorrhoids, and gastrointestinal disorders.
It also has a high content of antioxidants which can lower the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Nowadays it is widely used to treat stress and anxiety, but does chamomile tea help you sleep?
Chamomile Tea – The Scientific Evidence
The effects of chamomile tea has been scientifically tested in numerous studies over the years:
- The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducted a study in 2009 and found that drinking chamomile tea can help to reduce stress and anxiety. The less stress and anxiety you feel typically the easier you’ll find it to fall asleep.
- In 2016 a study conducted on postpartum women established that those who drank chamomile tea on a daily basis for 2 weeks found that the quality of their sleep improved. They also displayed fewer symptoms of depression, which is often linked to sleep issues. Interestingly, the effects were reversed once they stopped drinking the tea.
- Another study had a number of people consume 270mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days. The findings – these people on average fell asleep 15 minutes quicker than those who didn’t consume the extract. They also spent just over 30% less time waking up during the night.
- A study of 537 people who drank chamomile tea between 2-6 times per week were found to be significantly less likely to develop thyroid cancer than those who didn’t consume chamomile tea.
- Test tube studies of the antioxidant apigenin (an ingredient of chamomile) show that it is able to fight cancer cells, especially those of breast, prostate, uterus, skin, and digestive tract.
So, the evidence tells us that chamomile tea is a great aid for sleep and provides numerous other health benefits as well.
Popular Questions About Chamomile Tea and Sleep
How many cups of chamomile tea can I drink a day?
There isn’t a specific dose of chamomile that is regarded as “safe”, but studies have shown that consuming between 220mg and 1,600mg in capsule form is fine. You can consume between 1-4 cups of chamomile tea and reap the health (and sleep) benefits.
When is the best time to drink chamomile tea before going to sleep?
The best time to drink chamomile tea is approximately 30 minutes before you go to bed. The dietary flavonoid apigenin, which is present in chamomile, then has enough to time bind with certain receptors in the brain, thus producing a calming and sleep-inducing effect.
Can you drink chamomile tea in the morning?
Chamomile is often regarded as a sleep-inducer and maybe even a mild tranquilizer, but it is perfectly safe to drink chamomile tea during the day. Your melotonin levels will be lower during the day and therefore drinking one or two cups during daylight hours will simply lighten your mood and can help you to feel less anxious.
Is chamomile tea bad for your liver or kidneys?
Chamomile tea can help to lower blood sugar levels, but it can also thin the blood. Therefore, it should be completely avoided if you are taking certain medications. These include, aspirin, sedatives, blood thinners, anti platelet drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as iburofen and naproxen.
Whether drinking chamomile tea is safe for those of you with liver or kidney disease has never actually been established, but it is best avoided if you are taking any of the above medicines.
To Teabag or Not to Teabag?
I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong way to make a cup of tea, although many of you may disagree. These are the 2methods to make chamomile tea, with a teabag, or with fresh or dry flowers.
The teabag method
- Place the teabag into a cup or mug.
- Add boiling water.
- Steep for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the teabag and add your favorite flavoring, such as lemon or honey, and enjoy.
The flower method
- Add fresh water to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Rinse your fresh or dry chamomile flowers in cold water.
- For approximately every cup of boiling water you have placed in the saucepan add 2-3 teaspoons of the flowers.
- Once the water has changed color and you can smell the aroma of the flowers remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Pour the water into a cup or mug through a strainer.
- Add lemon or honey and enjoy.
Make Chamomile Tea Part of Your Bedtime Routine
It would be wrong of me to suggest that simply drinking a cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes before you go to bed is all you’ll ever need to do to get a great night’s sleep.
I believe it should be one factor in your fight against another sleepless night. For those of you who struggle to sleep at night it makes sense to have a specific routine in place that get’s you ready for bed.
Having a nighttime routine will literally send a signal to your brain that it’s getting to that time of the evening that you should be getting ready to sleep.
This is why people who have a set time to go to bed at night and to wake up in the morning typically enjoy a far better night’s sleep than those who don’t.
The bedtime routine of someone who regularly enjoys a great night’s rest may look something like this:
- Turn off all electrics at least one hour before bedtime.
- Listen to some soothing and calming music or read a physical book.
- Make a cup of chamomile tea.
- Write in your journal about the positive things that have happened to you today.
- Practice deep breathing exercises to help you relax.
- Ensure your bedroom is in “sleep mode” with no electronic distractions, at the right temperature, and dark enough for you to drift off peacefully.
- Go to bed and have a beautiful, restful night’s sleep.
Okay, admittedly this may sound a little too perfect, but a solid bedtime routine (which includes drinking chamomile tea) will help you nod off in no time at all.