Chamomile Tea and Sleep
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Sleeping better is on many of our wishlists, especially if it can be done with natural remedies like drinking a warm, soothing herbal tea before bed. Many people have found success with chamomile tea and sleep improvement. If you’re considering chamomile tea as part of your bedtime routine, here’s what we know about its effects on your beauty rest.
Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.
How Does Chamomile Tea Help With Sleep?
Chamomile (Matricaria recuita) is a flowering plant related to the daisy. Its name is Greek for “Earth apple,” which reflects its slight apple aroma, and there are two types — German and Roman.
Drinking a warm beverage before bed can help promote relaxation and a drop in blood pressure in preparation for sleep. But chamomile is thought to help with sleep and other things because its flower extracts and essential oil house over 120 bioactive compounds, such as:
- Apigenin, which has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties
- Bisabolol, which has antimicrobial and anti-irritant activity
- Chamazulene, an anti-inflammatory agent
- Luteolin, which offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential
Furthermore, some researchers think chamomile’s sleep-promoting effects are due to its compound apigenin binding to GABA receptors in the brain, which helps reduce anxiety and promote sedation. These are the same receptors that bind to benzodiazepines, common anti-anxiety medications. Though more research is always helpful, a handful of studies have tested chamomile on sleep.
- A 2016 study examined the effects of chamomile tea on sleep quality and fatigue among 80 Taiwanese postnatal women. While the control group received regular postpartum care, the experimental group was instructed to also drink chamomile tea daily for two weeks. At the end of the study, the authors found that the experimental group had significantly better sleep efficiency scores than the control group.
- In a 2017 randomized controlled trial among 60 elderly individuals in a nursing home, the intervention group received chamomile extract capsules (200mg) twice a day for 28 consecutive days, while the control group received wheat flour capsules (200mg). Their sleep quality was evaluated at zero weeks, two weeks, upon study completion, and again two weeks later. The researchers concluded that chamomile extract could significantly improve sleep quality among elderly individuals.
- And a 2019 meta-analysis of three randomized controlled studies concluded that chamomile appears to be safe and effective for improving the quality of sleep. However, there was no significant impact on insomnia.
Though anecdotal evidence for chamomile tea’s effect on sleep is strong, the available studies are small, and additional research is needed to determine how effective chamomile tea is for improving sleep quality and duration.
Other Benefits Of Drinking Chamomile Tea
Chamomile has been used in natural medicine for centuries for pretty much any ailment. In addition to sleep, some of its other historical uses include digestive conditions, muscle spasms, anxiety, colic, menstrual complaints, skin irritation, headaches, and fever.
As for today, some of the modern uses of chamomile tea include:
- Anxiety: Chamomile extract may be modestly helpful among people with generalized anxiety symptoms.
- Digestive health: It’s been shown that Chamomile may be helpful in alleviating digestive complaints like diarrhea in human and animal studies. Preliminary research also suggests that chamomile may be effective against H.pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.
- Healthy blood sugar regulation: Chamomile tea may benefit blood sugar control among individuals with type 2 diabetes.
- Oral and skin health: Topical chamomile may be helpful for oral inflammation and eczema.
Potential Side Effects
Chamomile contains a compound called coumarin, which is a natural blood thinner. For this reason, it should not be used among people who take anticoagulant prescription medications, such as Coumadin (warfarin). This also means it’s prudent to avoid chamomile for at least two weeks leading up to and following any type of surgical procedure.
Furthermore, chamomile is a relative of ragweed and chrysanthemum, which are common environmental allergens. If you have reactions to these plants, it’s also best to avoid chamomile.
Finally, chamomile products may have a mild uterine stimulant effect. One study found it was effective in stimulating labor in post-term pregnancy — but this would not be desired earlier in pregnancy.
It’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider before adding chamomile, or any other herbal tea or supplement, to your routine, especially if you are pregnant or taking any medications.
How To Prepare Chamomile Tea And Use It For Sleep
How to Brew Chamomile Tea
Brewing chamomile tea is easy. Simply steep a chamomile tea bag or dried chamomile flowers in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Remove the tea bag or flowers and enjoy the infusion in a mug. Some people like to add cinnamon, lemon, ginger, or orange peel to their chamomile tea. If you dislike chamomile’s flavor, you can also brew it with another type of tea, like jasmine, black, green, or hibiscus tea.
How Much Chamomile Do I Need?
There is no standard dosage for chamomile. Most studies using chamomile have included a wide range, from 200-1100 mg daily for up to eight weeks. In general, chamomile is likely safe when used in the amounts found in regular tea bags. So, a good place to start is by steeping one chamomile tea bag to prepare a hot tea and see if it helps your sleep.
What Does Chamomile Tea Taste Like?
Chamomile tea is often described as having a mild, flowery taste with a bit of an apple flavor. Some people also think it has somewhat of a hay semblance with a bitter aftertaste.
Are There Other Ways To Take Chamomile?
In addition to prepared chamomile tea, this herb is sold as dried flowers and in supplemental, extract, and topical forms. The most common way to use chamomile is to consume it as a hot herbal tea.
Some people like to take encapsulated chamomile or flower extract or use chamomile essential oil on their skin. Note that there is no standard dose for chamomile in any form. There have been reports of it causing skin irritation when used topically, and further research is warranted on alternative uses.
The Last Word From Sleepopolis
Chamomile tea is a popular beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries for its flavor and potential therapeutic benefits. Many people find that chamomile tea helps them sleep when they prepare it as part of their winding-down routine. While there are no standard guidelines for using chamomile tea for sleep, some evidence suggests its effectiveness. It also has a low risk of side effects for most healthy people. The best way to see if chamomile tea is right for you is to prepare yourself a warm mug before bed.
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