Chamomile is a hardy, perennial herb from the Asteraceae family that strongly resembles a daisy. It’s frequently infused in hot water to create chamomile tea.
As explained by Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile tea is a popular herbal beverage, with over a million cups consumed daily. People enjoy chamomile tea for its taste and holistic medical benefits.
The popularity of chamomile tea is partly attributed to its sedative properties. Chamomile contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which promotes sleepiness and reduces the likelihood of insomnia.
Is Chamomile Tea Good for You?
Chamomile tea is one of the most health-conscious hot drinks anybody can enjoy.
Unlike traditional tea, chamomile tea is naturally caffeine-free. It also tastes comparatively sweet, making it more palatable to some people than other herbal teas.
Some of the benefits of chamomile tea include the following:
- Natural anti-inflammatory properties that improve gut health and balance blood sugar levels.
- According to Pharmaceutical Research, antioxidants, such as apigenin, fight cancerous cells.
- Flavones improve heart health and reduce cholesterol levels.
Perhaps most of all, chamomile tea is celebrated as a natural sedative that encourages sleep.
How Does Chamomile Tea Help Sleep?
A study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing profiles how a group of new mothers found it easier to fall asleep after drinking chamomile tea compared to a control group.
The reason chamomile tea promotes sleep is apigenin. This chemical compound is an antioxidant that bonds to the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the nervous system.
GABA receptors act upon messages from the brain. If the brain sends a warning message and begins to panic, activating the GABA receptors neutralizes the impact and promotes feelings of calm and serenity.
Essentially, think of apigenin as a mild and natural sedative. It encourages the mind and body to calm down, promoting the idea of sleepiness, especially when you enter a dark room.
What is the Best Time to Drink Chamomile Tea for Sleep?
If you drink chamomile tea too early, you risk the effects wearing off before you get to bed. Wait too long, and you may struggle to doze off.
So, how long does it take for chamomile tea to make you sleepy? Typically, drinking a single cup of chamomile tea around 45 minutes before bed is the optimum timeframe, which gives the apigenin enough time to metabolize in the body.
To reiterate, chamomile tea isn’t a sleeping pill, so don’t consume it and expect to be fast asleep 45 minutes later without practicing good sleep hygiene.
Assist this natural sedative by avoiding screens once you have drunk your tea, and reduce your body temperature (possibly by taking a bath or shower.) Relax your body and mind so you drift into a natural slumber due to chamomile tea.
How Many Cups of Chamomile Tea will Help Sleep?
Everybody has a different tolerance to the ingredients of chamomile tea.
For most people, one cup of herbal tea will induce a night of natural sleep, while others may need two or more cups before feeling sleepy.
If one cup of chamomile tea doesn’t have any effect, consider if other lifestyle factors may be influencing this. Have you consumed caffeine within the last six hours?
There’s no such thing as “too much chamomile tea.” Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to the herb, no ill fortune will befall you if you drink multiple cups daily. You could consider swapping black tea or coffee for chamomile tea in the afternoon if it doesn’t make you sleepy ahead of time.
Just remember the unusual warnings and caveats surrounding drinking too much fluid close to bedtime. If you are prone to waking in the night and needing the bathroom, stick to one cup of chamomile tea and allow sufficient time to pass this before bed.
Are There Any Side Effects of Chamomile Tea?
Experts consider chamomile safe, whether consumed in tea or used any other way.
One prominent exception is if you have an allergy to the herb. Consider your sensitivity if you experience unusual side effects after drinking chamomile tea.
Chamomile is a natural blood thinner. If consumed in conjunction with anticoagulant medication, chamomile can lead to a risk of internal bleeding. Consult your doctor before using chamomile tea as a sleep aid if you take a drug like Warfarin.
Consider that chamomile tea only be enjoyed if you’re sure you’re about to rest. Treat chamomile the same way you would an over-the-counter cough syrup that lists drowsiness as a side effect.
Avoid drinking chamomile tea if you have any reason to suspect you may need to drive in the night. You will already be groggy from sleep, and the apigenin in chamomile may leave you particularly sluggish.
How To Make Chamomile Tea for Sleep
Many health food shops will stock loose-leaf chamomile tea or pre-packaged teabags. If you prefer to create chamomile tea, you can do so by following these steps:
- Sow chamomile seeds in your yard in late spring.
- Cultivate the chamomile by regularly watering and trimming.
- Periodically pluck the flowers from your chamomile; the more you pluck, the more you’ll grow.
- Dry the chamomile in a warm, dry indoor location for one to two weeks, then store it in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place.
Once this is complete, you can make chamomile tea, which involves:
- Add two or three teaspoons of dry chamomile to hot (not boiling) water.
- Let it steep.
- Pick out the flowers.
Alternatives to Chamomile Tea to Aid Sleep
Drinking chamomile tea to help you get to sleep may not work for everybody.
One of the main stumbling blocks could be the taste of the tea. While naturally sweet, chamomile also has an earthy quality that may deter some palates.
Adding a teaspoon of honey to a cup of chamomile tea can detract from this particular flavor, but if you are still against the idea of drinking this herb, you have choices.
Chamomile extract can be applied topically, or you could consider other herbal teas.
Applying Topical Chamomile
Chamomile can be purchased as an essential oil and applied to the body topically.
Some people do this as part of a skincare regime, especially in the event of a cut or scar. Infectious Disorders – Drug Targets confirm that chamomile has wound-healing properties.
Such an application can help you sleep if you struggle to drink chamomile tea. You have several options when it comes to applying chamomile topically, including the following:
- Add drops of chamomile oil into a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, and massage it into the skin.
- Mix chamomile oil with a career oil and apply it to bathwater.
- Drop chamomile oil into your usual facial or body moisturizer and apply as standard.
- Create a compress by soaking a small cloth in warm water, drop diluted chamomile oil onto it, and apply to your forehead.
It may take longer for the sedative effects of chamomile to take hold if you apply it topically.
Other Herbal Teas
Chamomile isn’t the only herb with a reputation for relaxation. You could consider alternatives if you don’t get along with chamomile tea, including:
- Caffeine-free black tea
- Green tea
- Valerian tea
- Magnolia tea
- Lavender tea
- Passionflower tea
You’ll find many of these herbal teas in the same supermarkets that stock chamomile tea, or as with chamomile, infuse your own. Ensure you’re not sensitive to the herbs in question.
Another alternative to chamomile tea at bedtime is hot cocoa, which has sedative properties. Naturally, you’ll sacrifice some of the health benefits of herbal teas when consuming this beverage.
Chamomile tea isn’t a wonder cure for insomnia and won’t single-handedly guarantee eight hours of sleep. However, it remains an effective natural product and a cost-effective way to improve sleep.