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A hot drink can warm you up on a cold day, and tea, in particular, can help soothe a number of ailments.

You might drink tea with honey and lemon when you have a sore throat, green tea for its antioxidant benefits, or black tea for a burst of energy. Herbs, such as chamomile and peppermint, might even help relieve menstrual cramps, muscle cramps, and indigestion.

While caffeinated teas can have stimulating benefits, many herbal teas have the opposite effect.

Chamomile tea is widely used in alternative medicine to promote relaxation, drowsiness, and restful sleep. If you had a hard time sleeping in childhood (or beyond), perhaps your parent or grandparent recommended a chamomile blend to help you drift off.

Trouble falling asleep isn’t uncommon, especially during times of increased stress. Bedtime teas blend specific herbs to help you defeat insomnia naturally, so they make a great option if you prefer to avoid medicinal sleep aids.

If you’ve graduated from chamomile tea and need something with a little more relaxation potential, try the six teas listed below to fall asleep faster and sleep soundly.

We considered plenty of relaxing bedtime blends to create our final list of recommendations. Here’s how we decided which teas to include:

  • Ingredients. You can’t make a good bedtime tea without the right components. We only selected teas without caffeine, of course, but we also looked for blends featuring ingredients sure to evoke sleepiness.
  • Variety. You can pick up a box of chamomile tea at any grocery store, so we looked for teas with a little more to offer beyond this tried-and-true, but perhaps a little tired, herb. Some teas on our list contain chamomile, but they’re paired with additional herbs used to help promote better sleep.
  • Customer reviews and testing. We sampled a few of the blends to give you the most accurate insight on taste and impact. For the others, we read through customer reviews to get a good idea of taste, effect, and tea quality.
  • Quality. Speaking of quality, we stuck to well-known brands with established websites and plenty of positive customer feedback. We also checked whether brands were upfront about their ingredients and provided information about tea sourcing and processing.
  • Ease of purchase. You’ll find a few of these brands on Amazon or in local brick-and-mortar stores, but you can also buy them directly from the brand’s website.

Pricing guide

Tea prices can vary widely, especially when it comes to loose tea. Buying in bulk is generally cheaper, but you may want to taste test with a smaller sample pack first.

We included teas at a variety of price points to help every shopper find the right blend.

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = over $10

Best overall tea to help you sleep

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Extra Tea

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: valerian, lemon balm, passionflower, peppermint
  • Type: bagged

Aside from melatonin, valerian root may be the second most common sleep-promoting ingredient. It works by breaking down an amino acid in your body, known as GABA, which signals the brain and nervous system and helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Organic Nighty Night Extra combines valerian root with additional herbs and natural ingredients, including passionflower herb.

A 2017 animal study found that 500 mg of passionflower increased total sleep time and reduced wakefulness. More research is needed on humans, as the effects found on animals don’t always translate to humans.

However, a 2011 human study found that passionflower helped participants improve their sleep after 7 days.

This tea also contains lemon balm and peppermint leaf. Lemon balm has been used as an alternative treatment for insomnia — though more research is needed — and peppermint has been shown to act as a muscle relaxant in animal studies.

Both ingredients are linked to better sleep, but they could benefit from more rigorous scientific research.

Some reviewers comment that they didn’t love the smell the valerian adds, but many comment that it helped them reduce anxiety and sleep better.

Best tea to help you sleep if you’re avoiding valerian root

Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Herbal Tea

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile, licorice
  • Type: bagged

Valerian is considered generally safe, but it’s not recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because of lacking research on the effects. You should also avoid it if you have any serious health diagnoses until you talk with your doctor. It’s also not recommended for children.

If you fall in any of these camps, or already know you don’t enjoy valerian, Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax may be more your cup of tea.

It contains organic passionflower leaf as well as its freeze-dried extract, lemon balm leaf, chamomile flower (plus additional freeze-dried extract), and licorice root.

Licorice root is primarily there for flavor, but it may have added benefits of helping digestion and combatting menopause symptoms that can get in the way of quality sleep. However, scientific evidence is lacking.

Best valerian tea to help you sleep

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: valerian, chamomile, tilia estrella
  • Type: bagged

While most teas on our list include valerian root, Sleepytime Extra lets it shine. If valerian is what you want, valerian is what you get with this bedtime tea.

The only other two ingredients are chamomile and tilia estrella, which is also used in linden tea.

While more studies are needed on humans to confirm the full effects, research done in vitro (meaning it was conducted outside living bodies) found tilia could help relieve anxiety and act as a sedative.

This tea is a simple blend, but the majority of reviewers find it effective. Some comment about how surprised they were that it helped with insomnia, and others say they were impressed with its ability to “knock you out in the best way.”

Be aware that valerian root has some potential side effects, so it’s not for everyone.

Best tea for supporting sleep and overall wellness

Yogi Bedtime Tea

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: valerian root, spearmint leaf, cardamom, passionflower extract, chamomile flower, skullcap leaf, rosehip, lavender flower
  • Type: bagged

In addition to sleep-promoting ingredients, like valerian and lavender flower, Yogi throws in skullcap leaf for good measure. Skullcap has been used in alternative medicine as a sedative and anxiety treatment, though more research is needed to determine exactly how it affects sleep.

Yogi’s Bedtime tea also contains a number of other herbs and ingredients that are thought to help your body’s other key functions.

Cardamom has been used medicinally to help treat digestive issues, while animal studies show cinnamon may be anti-inflammatory and support immune health. Rosehip is also in the mix, containing flavonoids which are antioxidant compounds.

Best red tea to help you sleep

The Republic of Tea Get Some Zzz’s

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: rooibos, orange peel, spearmint, chamomile, passionflower, valerian root, stevia
  • Type: bagged

This bedtime tea combines chamomile with rooibos — a red tea known for its antioxidants — and passionflower — an herb used to promote relaxation and better sleep.

Orange peel adds citrus notes, while stevia sweetens the blend. Reviewers suggest you don’t need any sugar or honey for this tea. Some people even find it a little too sweet.

For the most part, people love this tea. Reviewers call the taste smooth and mellow, with notes of refreshing mint. Bedtime teas are about more than taste, of course, and reviewers also say this tea really does help them, well, catch some Zzz’s.

People say this tea helps them relax and unwind, even in the face of pandemic anxiety and stress. Some people experiencing chronic pain say this tea helps them sleep more soundly. A few reviewers even say this tea helps them skip other sleep aids or pain medication.

This tea is kosher and gluten-free. You’ll find this brand in many stores, but you can also purchase Get Some Zzz’s from Amazon or directly from The Republic of Tea’s website.

Best dessert-like tea to help you sleep

Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Bedtime Brew

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: decaffeinated black tea, vanilla, nutmeg
  • Type: bagged

Not a fan of herbal teas? You still have options for a bedtime beverage. Decaffeinated black tea won’t help promote relaxation in the same way as herbs, like valerian root, chamomile, or lavender.

Yet black tea offers other health benefits, and a warm cup of tea can still help soothe and calm you as a part of your nightly ritual.

This decaf blend makes a great alternative to herbal blends. Along with having an overall 4.6-star rating on Amazon, it’s a tried-and-true favorite nighttime tea, especially during the colder months.

The light, smooth flavor is balanced with a hint of nutmeg, while vanilla enhances the tea without overpowering it. Even when drinking it plain, it almost tastes as if you’ve added a dash of milk.

This tea also contains lemon balm, an herb that’s been historically used to help relieve insomnia and stress.

The best part? It doesn’t even taste like decaf. Several Amazon reviewers agree this mild tea tastes much like the real thing and makes a relaxing evening drink. People call this tea calming and fragrant, and they praise its “comforting” flavor.

Bonus: Yorkshire Teas have earned the Rainforest Alliance certification. And Taylors of Harrogate, the parent company of Yorkshire Tea, founded the Ethical Tea Partnership.

With so many flavors, blends, and tea types to choose from, finding the best bedtime tea can be an exhausting undertaking.

Wondering how to find the right tea for better sleep? The tips below can help.

What ingredients should you look for?

You’ll definitely want to stick with decaffeinated or naturally caffeine-free teas, but certain herbs may have additional benefits for promoting restful sleep.

Herbs often used in teas for sleep include:

  • chamomile
  • valerian root
  • passionflower
  • lavender
  • lemon balm (different from lemon, which can have an energizing effect)
  • catnip

While many bedtime teas include peppermint or spearmint, some people find that mint feels more invigorating than relaxing.

Note that experts recommend avoiding valerian root while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you want to try a valerian tea, it’s best to talk with a healthcare professional first.

Should you go for loose tea or bags?

If you’ve heard that some tea bags contain microplastics, you might feel a little alarmed by the thought of drinking bagged tea.

Many tea brands have shifted to newer, biodegradable tea bags, or they’re in the process of doing so. For the time being, experts still consider tea bags safe to use, so you don’t need to completely avoid bagged tea.

That said, many people prefer the taste of loose tea steeped in a teapot rather than directly in the mug. Tea bags can be convenient, but loose tea also helps reduce packaging waste.

If you prefer loose tea, you’ll need a teapot or tea ball, along with a kettle to boil water.

How do you know you’re buying quality tea?

You can recognize good quality tea by the shape of the tea leaves, flower buds, or herbs. Lower quality tea is often crumbled or powdered.

Good quality herbal tea, on the other hand, will more closely resemble a dried bouquet. This means you’ll probably see pieces of fruit, plants, or flowers in your tea.

Dried herbs and flowers should have some weight and color to them, along with a fragrance not unlike the fresh plant. Old, low-quality herbs feel lightweight, and they probably won’t have as much fragrance or taste.

Your tea doesn’t have to be top-tier to get the job done, of course, so don’t feel bad about sticking to your favorite Stash or Celestial Seasonings blend — we drink them, too!

Do you have to pay a lot for good tea?

Fancy teas can get a little expensive, but in some cases, price can suggest a better grade of tea.

Higher quality teas and herbs tend to cost more to produce and harvest. Organic, responsibly sourced, and fair trade teas all tend to cost more than your average grocery store tea bags. But their higher price tag helps ensure sustainable production and fair wages for farmers.

You absolutely can find quality teas at reasonable prices, however, especially if you buy your tea in bulk.

While a relaxing tea can certainly help you drift off a little faster, too much tea before bed can keep you up for an entirely different reason. If you don’t want to hop out of bed to answer the call of nature, it’s generally best to finish your bedtime tea at least an hour before you go to bed.

Aim to brew and drink your tea 60 to 90 minutes before bed.

If you work out or do anything that provokes physical or emotional stress in the evening, drinking a relaxing tea after (or during) can help you calm down and prepare for sleep.

The most potent bedtime tea in the world won’t necessarily counter every insomnia trigger.

If you regularly experience trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, these strategies might make it easier to get the beauty rest you need and deserve:

When persistent worries seem to multiply and keep you lying awake, the warmth and fragrance of a cup of tea can help you achieve a sense of calm — even before you take the first sip.

Tea can help you relax, and it works wonders for your mood. But it’s not a cure-all.

If insomnia begins to affect your mood, performance at work, or overall quality of life, a healthcare professional can offer guidance on potential treatments. Always check with your doctor about how certain herbs may interfere with other medications.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.