Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

As a follow-up to my post 5 Remedies that will Change the Way You Sleep, here’s a list of my favorite bedtime teas. You won’t find the classics like Chamomile and Lavender on here because, let’s be honest, I’d be wasting everyone’s time. So, here is my short list of some not-so-obvious bedtime tonics.

BUT FIRST, let’s talk about tea blends.

Tea Blends

If you’re into tea blends, you’re not alone. I like them too. The problem is, not all blends are created equal and it isn’t always immediately obvious.

In the case of bedtime tea blends, the first thing to look out for is how much of the main ingredient they include – or whichever ingredient you’re most depending on to knock you out. Some tea blends include such a scanty amount of certain herbs that I wonder why they even bother at all.

Let’s consider Valerian root.

Valerian is excellent in an evening tea. I’m not going to talk a whole lot about Valerian specifically though, because I feel like the interwebs has sufficiently covered its sleep benefits. However, if Valerian root is news to you, then definitely read more about it here, and go get you some Valerian tea bags.

Anyway. Tea blends.

Let’s consider the amount of Valerian in a couple of popular nighttime blends.

Yogi Bedtime tea has 20 mg of Valerian root. I’m not hating on Yogi – I actually love Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime – but like, c’mon, 20 mg of Valerian? That’s no Valerian. Yogi teas have a great flavor and a relaxing herb blend, but I could never depend on a Yogi Bedtime teabag to induce any sort of sleep benefits on its own.

Still, adding a Yogi teabag to your cup is a great way to disguise the flavor of a pure Valerian teabag that packs more of a punch but tastes like your unkempt back lawn.

Anyway, to give you an idea of just how little 20 mg of Valerian is, take a look at the Nighty Night Valerian Tea by Traditional Medicinals.

So, 450mg of Valerian. Kind of a MASSIVE jump. Looking for an even bigger kick of Valerian? Then, you’re going to have to go pure.

In my opinion, pure is the best method if you’re prioritizing the effects of a single ingredient like Valerian. As you can see, a single teabag of Buddha Valerian Root Tea has 1.5 grams of Valerian. See uuuuu. The only downside of pure teabags is they taste like Scheiße by Lady Gaga, so this is where tea blends like Yogi come in and work their magic to hide the taste of leaves.

Loose Leaf Tea Blends

Besides making sure that your teabags aren’t trying to fake it til they make it, I just want to mention loose leaf tea. I get that it’s a hassle and you end up having to clean out the little strainer for a whole 25 seconds – ugh, the worst. But, if you’re into it, stick to loose leaf blends.

One of my favorite brands is Tea Tonix.

They have blends for all types of moods and purposes, but in our case Be Sleepy is most fitting. Plus, it includes 3 of the 4 herbs I recommend in this post. Cha-ching.

Herbal Teas

CBD Infusion

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ten gazillion times. CBD is the answer to your sleep problems. And guess what? You can drink it as a tea!

Where to buy

Green Road’s CBD Chamomile Tea contains 7mg CBD along with other relaxing ingredients and aromas like chamomile, vanilla, and peppermint. So, if you’re looking for a little something to help unwind, this is a great bet. You can also get it as regular and decaf coffee.

If you’re looking for something more in the range of a poison apple or magic spinning wheel, then The Brother’s Apothecary Hemp-Derived CBD Infusion Tea might be for you. These teas pack 60+ mgs of CBD in their teabags, which come in a variety of flavors such as Chai and Kava root (oh, we’ll get to Kava root).

Vervain (verbena officinalis) or Blue Vervain (verbena hastata)

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If you’ve ever watched Vampire Diaries, then you’ve probably heard of Vervain. For the rest of the world, Vervain is a purple plant with numerous benefits that include improved mood, aiding digestion and headaches, reducing PMS and menopause symptoms, poisoning a vampire, and insomnia.

Few clinical trials have been done to test Vervain’s health benefits, so this is one of those, hey this worked for me and a bunch of other people on the internet, maybe it’ll work for you kinda things. I mean, it’s not poisonous to humans, so at the very least, it’ll do nothing but leave a bitter taste in your mouth and protect you from being compelled by a vampire.

**Unless, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (or a vamp…you get it). According to WebMD, there isn’t enough evidence to determine what sort of effects Vervain could have on preggos – so, that’s your call.

Where to buy

For your tea-party-slumber-party, go with Common Vervain or Blue Vervain. They have similar benefits, including the sleep-inducing function. But for some reason, neither are as easy to find in the United States as they were for me in the UK. If you do a Google search for Vervain here, you’re mostly redirected to Lemon Verbena, which is not the same thing as Vervain.

Lemon Verbena and Vervain are two entirely different plants, semi-related only by being in the same family of Verbenaceae plants, along with some 250+ other verbena plants. I don’t fully understand the whole genus, family, species plant world myself, which is fine because it’s not super relevant here other than to say that Common Vervain (verbena officianalis) and Blue Vervain (verbena hastata) are not equivalent to Lemon Verbena (aloysia citrodora).

Lemon Verbena, get the fffffff out.

So, where can you get the real stuff in the US? You can get Blue Vervain loose leaf herb from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also get it in the Tea Tonix Be Happy blend, and the Be Sleepy blend mentioned above.

But honestly, if it’s too much drama finding Vervain teabags or loose leaf here in the US (and it kinda is), you could just say fuck it, and get it in capsule form here or tincture form here. If you really want tea, you could always squirt some tincture into a mug of hot water, and pretend it’s tea just like Lemon Verbena pretends it’s Vervain.

Catnip

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Thought it was just for cats?

Nope – catnip has a number of benefits for humans, although it doesn’t get us high as a kite like our feline friends. Benefits of drinking catnip include easing anxiety, indigestion, and – yep – insomnia.

Where to buy

Celebration Herbals Catnip Leaf & Blossom teabags are a good bet. There isn’t specific listing of the amount of catnip per teabag, but dividing the net weight (30g) by the number of teabags (24) gives you 1.25 grams of catnip per bag – which is a nifty number of grams. You can also find catnip in the Tea Tonix Be Sleepy blend.

Kava Kava Root

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Kava kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands, where it is drank both ceremoniously and recreationally like alcohol. According to the National Institute of Health, it has similar effects to alcohol, such as euphoria and relaxation, but brings them about without impairing cognitive and sensory awareness.

Among it’s many possible benefits, research has shown Kava can reduce symptoms of anxiety and be used to treat stress-induced insomnia.

Be aware that Kava does have a list of potential side effects, including liver toxicity when taken as a dietary supplement, namely in cases of frequent use at high doses (aka overuse) or when mixed with alcohol and/or other medications that can affect the liver. As of 2002, 25 cases of liver toxicity associated with Kava intake had been reported across Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Canada, and France. Since then, there appears to be between 50-100 cases reported.

For context: in 2014, the number of deaths from alcohol-induced liver disease was 19,388 in the United States alone. But, as always, do your own research, check for drug interactions with any current medications, talk to your doctor, drink in moderation, and never forget that I’m just a girl on the internet with a Google Scholar tab and not a healthcare professional.

Where to buy

If you want Kava in a big dose (maybe you suffer from severe anxiety and insomnia), go for the Buddha Kava Kava Root Tea. It has 1.3 grams of Kava per teabag. As a general sleep aid, I personally like to go for a Kava-inclusive tea blend, such as Be Sleepy loose leaf (see above) or the Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea, which contains a much milder dose of 78 mg.

Conclusion

I hope this can help you find the sleeping beauty slumber you’ve been searching for.

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There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?

5 Remedies That Will Change The Way You Sleep

5 Remedies That Will Change The Way You Sleep

We’ve all been there.

Tossing and turning through the night. Lying awake in bed as the minutes tick by. Each passing hour, we tell ourselves if I fall asleep now, I can still get 4 hours’ sleep…3 hours…2 hours…

We know sleep is fundamental to our health. It regulates mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Without it, our health risks increase, and our abilities to concentrate and think creatively suffer. It takes a toll on our mental health, affects our school/job performance, and is just all around the worst. But you knew that – it’s why you’re here. You’re tired. And you know what? You’re not alone. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans aren’t getting enough quality sleep. So what can you do to increase your chances of getting the blissful sleep you need?

Consider the following 5 supplements. All are easily attained, and pure magic when it comes to the zzz’s.

DiScLaImEr: Consider speaking with your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements. If you’re on other medications, do your own research or check with your doctor before introducing new supplements/medications to avoid negative interactions.

CBD Oil

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Okay, YES. CBD oil changed my life. When I was finishing my Ph.D., I was so unbelievably stressed and wired and overwhelmed that sleep became a 3-4 hour thing every other night. On top of that, I only managed to get to sleep at all by taking Melatonin + some OTC sleep aid like Unisom or Advil PM, all of which I hate because they’re no good for your health long term and make you groggy and tired the next day (but I figured, not as tired as not sleeping for 6 months). It was terrible, so please don’t try this at home. Let’s just smack a Surgeon General’s Warning on that life.

When a friend suggested CBD oil, I was all for it because I’m a goddess of the earth, so I’m always up for trying new natural remedies. She swore by it, and while I wasn’t convinced it would be enough to get me to sleep without the Unisom, I bought a bottle, and oh. my. gaaad. It was everything.

By taking one dropper an hour before bed, I fall asleep easily without being struck by overwhelming tiredness. I sleep through the night, the quality of sleep is amazing, and I always wake up feeling fresh. I don’t think anything has changed the way I sleep more than CBD oil.

I started out with 250 mg and took anywhere from half a dropper (0.5 mL) to a full dropper (1 mL). After a while, I upped to 500 mg, and that’s been working well. I buy from Sacred Leaf, either the CBD VG Tincture or CBG Oil. They have a variety of flavors, and you can drop it straight into your mouth or mix it into a drink. I’ve also bought from Bluebird Botanicals, which is another quality product and a bit cheaper than Sacred Leaf, but they don’t have all the tasty flavors.

**Update 07/12/2019: I’ve just had the brand cbdMD recommended to me by a local CBD tea line distributor in my area. I’ve done some research and checked reviews, and it’s definitely a quality product in a more affordable price range. I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet, but I’ll post updates when I do.

The downside

High-quality CBD oil is pricey. You can find cheaper CBD products on Amazon, but they’ll almost certainly be diluted and less effective than the real stuff. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. I’ve bought CBD oil on Amazon when money’s been tight, and it still did something. Basically, it was better than nothing.

Note: Before buying any CBD products (especially the ones on sites like Amazon), do your research. Make sure it’s a reputable product. Read the reviews. Do an external Google search about the company or seller. Make sure they list any additional ingredients. Read up on any ingredients you don’t recognize. Don’t get conned into buying a tiny bottle of mint-flavored olive oil for $25. Or worse, something potentially harmful.

5-HTP

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone.” While there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of 5-HTP as a treatment for any condition, there have been some indications of its potential benefits in minimizing symptoms of depression & anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and even promoting weight loss. Because serotonin is converted into melatonin, 5-HTP is potentially useful as a sleep aid.

I take 5-HTP for both sleep and mood. If I’m having trouble getting tired or winding down, 5-HTP is my number one. Unlike CBD oil, it’ll hit you with that sleepiness and have you dropping off before you know it.

I buy NOW Foods 5-HTP capsules on Amazon, both in 50 mg and 100 mg. They can also be found at pretty much any health food store. I tend to stick with 50 mg for sleep, and only take 100 mg if I’m extra wired.

The downside

Take 5-HTP too late, and you’ll be sleepy the next day. Also, use it sparingly. Try not to take it too many days in a row because overly-elevated serotonin levels can lead to anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. If you develop any of these symptoms after taking 5-HTP, stop for at least a week. If symptoms persist, this could indicate Serotonin Syndrome (Toxicity), which is incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Speak to your doctor immediately.

Magnesium

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Magnesium is a natural mineral with a zillion benefits, so don’t be surprised if it pops up on every single post I write about health/mental health/well-being – especially, because 50% of Americans don’t consume the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR).

I take 200 mg of magnesium 3x daily (morning, midday, evening). It won’t induce sleepiness or put you straight to bed, but magnesium is essential for regulating neurotransmitters and melatonin, which will help calm your body and mind. So, if it’s racing thoughts keeping you up at night, magnesium might be just what you need to shut them down.

My go-to brand is Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium, 100% Chelated. My morning dose comes in my multivitamin, which I customize on VitaminLab to include my preferred type (magnesium glycinate) and dosage (200mg).

Theanine

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L-Theanine is an amino acid found in certain tea leaves and mushrooms. It promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness or a surge in energy, meaning you can take in the morning and/or night.

I use NOW Foods L-Theanine, 200 mg or Doctor’s Best L-Theanine with Suntheanine, 150 mg. I take it in the evening to help shake off the stress of the day. The effects are subtle – so subtle that sometimes I’ll think it’s not doing anything and stop taking it. That’s when I realize how effective it really is at taking the edge off.

Inositol

Initially, I introduced inositol into my supplement regime after reading about its potential benefits for PCOS and ADHD. When I took my first ever dose, it was around 2 PM as I sat down to get some much-needed work done. Thirty minutes later I was like OH NICE, I can take this to go to sleep at night, and my work was done for the day.

Note: there is scientific evidence to suggest benefits of inositol supplementation for PCOS, but insufficient evidence that it has any effect on ADHD or insomnia. So again, do your own research, speak to your doctor, enroll in a master’s for holistic medicine – whatever you need to do – because all I can tell you on this one is my experience, and *spoiler* my experience isn’t backed by science (though sleep benefits of inositol aren’t disputed by science either). Anyway, my experience is that inositol brought on a noticeable cloud of drowsiness when I took it at 2 PM and has been a reliable sleep-aid for me ever since.

My method is to take two capsules of NOW Foods Choline & Inositol, 500 mg about an hour before I want to sleep. I take the inositol-choline combo because of evidence indicating choline can benefit asthma. If you have no need for choline, there are plenty of inositol-only capsules, including NOW Foods Inositol 500 mg.

The downside

The sleep-inducing effect of inositol isn’t as overt as the 5-HTP, but don’t be fooled. Take it too late, and there is a possibility you’ll feel some slight grogginess the next morning.

Conclusion

If you’re sleepy and you know it, shake your meds. Goodnight.

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