So you want to try a sleep tea. Well, if you’re on the edge about the decision - this article should change your mind.
We’ll give into why you should drink a sleep tea, things to look for and avoid in your favorite sleep tea and finally - our top 3 sleep tea recommendations.
Let’s dive into it.
Why You Should Drink a Sleep Tea
While most sleep teas won’t help with severe cases like insomnia, there are proven minerals and amino acids you can find in a variety of products that help calm you down, lull you to sleep and recover better overnight so you can wake up refreshed.
Nevertheless, if you’re on the edge, here’s three practical reasons why you should drink a sleep tea.
The Power of Warm Temperatures
Okay, we’re going to be honest here. We don’t know if there’s scientific evidence backing up the fact that a warm temperature drink feels cozy and makes it nice and easy to wind down a stressful day. We don’t know! But if there isn’t - there should be.
This is one of those things that just feels nice and if you’re having trouble with your sleep and recovery routine - making sure you’re doing something enjoyable is the first step in doing something consistently.
Building Blocks of a Routine
A warm drink in hand is also the basis of a routine. If you have trouble going to bed often, you might have trouble signaling to your body that it’s “time for bed.” By having a simple drink 30 minutes before you wind down for bed, you give your body what’s known as a “cue” to being the wind down process.
If you’re consistent with this, your recurring cues will build up and your body will know instinctually that it’s time for bed when you have your tea. Think Pavlov’s dog experiment - except with humans and sleep :).
Improved Sleep & Recovery
Sleep teas can help massively with sleep and recovery. But there’s a big caveat here - and that is that they have to have the right ingredients to begin with.
If you get the right mix and one that your body responds well to - a sleep tea should not just do it’s job and help you get to sleep - but actually help you recover well rested and make sure your body is ready to perform at it’s best the next day.
p.s. If you do it right, you’ll also be sure to be hydrating yourself. And who doesn’t love being hydrated?
What To Look for In a Sleep Tea
There are a million and one sleep aids and sleep teas out there on the market. If you’re looking in the space - here’s a few broad guidelines on what to look for in a sleep tea.
Magnesium is not only one of the primary key drivers of sleep and recovery, an astonishing amount of people are under-supplemented when it comes to this.
Naturally occurring amino acids are known to help your body recover and sleep better in a variety of ways. They’re also necessary for your body to function but importantly - cannot be produced by your body (so they must be consumed or ingested).
Our favorite amino acid for inducing calmness and relaxation is l-theanine.
Many teas and supplements include “proprietary blends” which may tell you a series of ingredients in their “blends” but not the actual quantity of each ingredient. This makes it tough to know if they ingredients are actually enough to be effective or are just slapped on there for marketing.
Most legitimate teas and supplements should state clearly and precisely what’s included at each level of their supplement. Look for transparency and you’ll be better able to narrow down what blends work well for you and which ones don’t.
Things to Avoid in a Sleep Tea
No matter what sleep tea you choose - you should be wary of non-helpful things thrown into the mix. Here’s a few common elements we think most people should avoid in their sleep teas.
Melatonin may be the most popular over the counter sleep aid, but we recommend you stay away from it - for a variety of reasons. We detail the side effects of melatonin in-depth here, but the short version is that most OTC melatonin supplements are supra-dosed versions of what your body produces on it’s own on a daily basis. It’s also a hormone produces - not a mineral or amino acid that your body needs to get from another source - which surfaces a whole series of other issues.
Valerian root is very popular in sleep teas + supplements, but we don’t recommend it for a few reasons. One, it has much more of a sedative effect than a sleep effect. In other words - it might help you get to sleep, but not in a restful manner. The second is because of the weird dreams that many people report as side effects. These are often unsettling and offset any of the actual sleep-time rest people get as they wake up unnerved and restless.
GABA has been shown to help improve sleep, but our main reservations revolve around the fact that GABA can have other interactions with other medications you’re on, so be careful and talk with your doctor before using this.
Added sugar may spike your glucose levels and make you extra alert (or even hyper) - counteracting the entire point of a sleep tea! Avoid sugar if you can in any of the teas you’re utilizing for sleep and if you must add something - use natural honey where possible.
Many people react differently to artificial sweeteners. While they won’t cause the glucose spike that added sugar will - we recommend avoiding it as you don’t need to activate those receptors when you’re beginning your evening wind-down session.
Top 3 Sleep Teas We Recommend
First up - we highly recommend Impossible Sleep. This is our custom formulation deigned to help lull you to sleep and then help you sleep deeply and recover well afterwards.
While you can drink it with water at any temperature, we highly recommend you drink it warm. It pairs best with hot water, red light and a good book as you wind down the training day and get ready for tomorrow.
Your can try impossible sleep here.
If you’d just like a tea that’s a bit more straightforward and traditional - many people like chamomile tea. Typically, this tea has a relatively floral flavor.
While chamomile contains apigenin, some women may want to avoid it due to it’s interactions with testosterone.
Studies suggest that chamomile may help improve sleep, but if you have a serious case of insomnia - it may not be nearly as helpful.
While lemon balm tea is not known itself for improving sleep - it does help with calmness. So if you need a glass of something and want to wind down the day without stressing yourself out - grab a mug of lemon balm tea and sip to your heart’s content.photo credit: Drew Jemmett on Unsplash