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What Teas To Drink Before Bed (By Science!)

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Which Sleepy Tea?

Herbal “tea” preparations (henceforth we will write it without the quotation marks, although these are not true teas) are popular for winding down at the end of a long day ready for a relaxing sleep.

Today we’ll look at the science for them! We’ll be brief for each, because we’ve selected five and have only so much room, but here goes:


Simply put, it works and has plenty of good science for it. Here’s just one example:

❝Noteworthy, our meta-analysis showed a significant improvement in sleep quality after chamomile administration❞

~ Dr. Hieu et al.

Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials and quasi-randomized trials

Also this writer’s favourite relaxation drink!

(example on Amazon if you want some)


We didn’t find robust science for its popularly-claimed sedative properties, but it does appear to be anxiolytic, and anxiety gets in the way of sleep, so while lavender may not be a sedative, it may calm a racing mind all the same, thus facilitating better sleep:

The effect of lavender herbal tea on the anxiety and depression of the elderly: A randomized clinical trial

(example on Amazon if you want some)


Animal study for the mechanism:

Magnolol, a major bioactive constituent of the bark of Magnolia officinalis, induces sleep via the benzodiazepine site of GABA(A) receptor in mice

Human study for “it is observed to help humans sleep better”:

A randomized controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of magnolia tea on alleviating depression in postnatal women

👆 As you can see from the title, its sedative properties weren’t the point of the study, but if you click through to read it, you can see that they found (and recorded) this benefit anyway

(example on Amazon if you want some)


There’s not a lot of evidence for this one, but there is some. Here’s a small study (n=41) that found:

❝Of six sleep-diary measures analysed, sleep quality showed a significantly better rating for passionflower compared with placebo (t(40) = 2.70, p < 0.01). These initial findings suggest that the consumption of a low dose of Passiflora incarnata, in the form of tea, yields short-term subjective sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality.❞

~ Dr. Ngan & Dr. Conduit

A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality

So, that’s not exactly a huge body of evidence, but it is promising.

(example on Amazon if you want some)


We’ll be honest, the science for this one is sloppy. It’s very rare to find Valerian tested by itself (or sold by itself; we had to dig a bit to find one for the Amazon link below), and that skews the results of science and renders any conclusions questionable.

And the studies that were done? Dubious methods, and inconclusive results:

Valerian Root in Treating Sleep Problems and Associated Disorders-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nevertheless, if you want to try it for yourself, you can do a case study (i.e., n=1 sample) if not a randomized controlled trial, and let us know how it goes 🙂

(example on Amazon if you want some)


  • Valerian we really don’t have the science to say anything about it
  • Passionflower has some nascent science for it, but not much
  • Lavender is probably not soporific, but it is anxiolytic
  • Magnolia almost certainly helps, but isn’t nearly so well-backed as…
  • Camomile comes out on top, easily—by both sheer weight of evidence, and by clear conclusive uncontroversial results.


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