Ask SleepBetter: Hot Tea for Insomnia?

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer?  Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter.  You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form.  We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues.  Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is about what you drink before bed:

Does hot tea really help insomnia?

-Heather P. (via Facebook)

The short answer is “maybe”.  There are a lot of products on the market that make a lot of claims.  It’s important to note that many of those claims come from questionable science or simple hearsay.  Many are harmless but provide little benefit.  Here are some that have been shown to have at least some benefit, according to

Passionflower: Passionflower is an herb that some claim has a calming benefit, and a 2001 study indicated that it can be  effective in managing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.

Chamomile: Alternative medicine proponents claim that chamomile can be used as a therapy for a variety of health conditions, including anxiety and insomnia. The first controlled clinical trial of chamomile extract for generalized anxiety disorder was published in 2009.  It said chamomile may produce a mild anxiety-inhibiting effect on patients with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder.

Magnolia Bark: Magnolia bark has been used in Asia to treat anxiety and nervousness disorders. A 2012 study found that magnolol — the main bioactive component of magnolia bark — was effective in increasing sleep in mice.

As always, if you have persistent insomnia, reach for the phone to call your doctor before reaching for any kind of sleep aid, herbal or not.  There are many physical problems that can cause sleeplessness, and it’s best to rule them out before proceeding.


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