There’s nothing better than falling asleep with ease and waking up fully rejuvenated. Proper rest is vital for our health and wellness, but for many of us, it’s easier said than done.
Sleep isn’t an entirely voluntary action. While we can control which PJs we wear, how well we brush our teeth, and what time we turn out the light, falling asleep happens outside of our grasp. If it were as easy as a decision, no one would suffer from sleep difficulties.
Creating the optimal environment for sleep is essential, both outside and inside our bodies. Internally, there are many ways we can support healthy sleep patterns; especially through remedies that are entirely natural. Some herbs and spices, for example, may help induce hormones and chemicals within the body, allowing us to fall asleep naturally. A convenient and delightful way to consume such ingredients is through herbal tea. Making caffeine-free herbal tea is one of the simplest ways we can calm the body and mind—though even with natural herbs, it’s important to not take too much.
Alternatives to Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. When functioning optimally, the release of this hormone follows the rising and setting of the sun. Melatonin decreases with light and increases with darkness. As we age, the body produces less of this hormone, and as a result, we may find falling asleep more difficult as we get older. There are supplements available; however, many melatonin capsules are not vegetarian. Melatonin is often derived from the pineal glands of animals. For this reason, many people prefer to substitute herbal remedies that have similar effects. That’s where herbal tea comes in. Look for specific ingredients proven to improve sleep patterns.
Valerian root acts as a mild sedative. Referred to as “Nature’s Valium,” Valerian root can provoke feelings of tranquility and reduce anxiety. It can help increase serotonin levels, which, with the help of tryptophan, produces melatonin in the body. It helps to enhance sleep, as well as reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It interacts with GABA receptors in the brain, helping to regulate nerve impulses in the nervous system. Components of this plant inhibit over-activity in the amygdala part of the brain, where we process fear and emotions related to stress.
Avoid alcohol consumption when taking Valerian root as well as other herbal or medicinal medication that induce drowsiness and be aware of side effects.
Chamomile promotes deeper sleep. It has a mild sedative effect due to the content of apigenin, a flavonoid that has a similar effect as anti-anxiety medications. It has mild muscle relaxant-like qualities but doesn’t impair cognitive function. Since anxiety is frequently related to sleep disturbances, calming the body and mind helps rebuild a healthy foundation for quality sleep.
Passionflower has analgesic properties; in other words, it can help manage pain. It may be used as a mild muscle relaxant, allowing all the body’s major muscles to release tension. Drinking teas with enough passionflower can also help calm overactive minds, making it easier to fall asleep.
Peppermint tea contains traces of magnesium, tryptophan (an amino acid essential for a good night’s sleep), and glycine (which produces serotonin which then produces melatonin). The content of menthol relieves stress and anxiety and acts as a mild muscle relaxant. It can help you unwind even when experiencing mental stress.
Horsetail is another magnesium-rich herb that’s also full of other vital minerals. It has mild sedative effects due to the flavonoid quercetin. The calcium content of horsetail soothes and calms the nerves. It can restore health and balance to the nervous system, making us less irritable and hyperactive, which helps improve sleep. As a bonus, horsetail also contains silica which helps strengthen hair and nails.
More Herbal Tea Options:
- Ginger and cloves: both contain tryptophan and glycine, which help to promote better sleep
- Turmeric: protects against sleep deprivation
- Cinnamon: helps people stay asleep due to its ability to regulate blood sugar levels
- Lavender: calms the nervous system and increases deep slumber, allowing muscles to get proper relaxation during sleeping hours
- Jasmine: decreases anxiety and uplifts the mood
- Ashwagandha: stress-reducing herb that improves sleep quality
- Reishi mushrooms: support melatonin production and calm the nervous system
Teas with Magnesium
Magnesium is a naturally occurring element that supports and regulates the production of melatonin. It can have relaxing effects on the mind and body (especially the nervous system) and can help ease tension in muscles. Consuming tea rather than supplements may be easier on digestion.
Adenosine Food-Based Alternatives
Adenosine is a chemical that makes us feel tired. The drowsy feeling helps us fall asleep quickly. Adenosine naturally occurs in foods such as nuts, seeds, and spirulina. It may also be found in cordyceps mushrooms.
Creating a nut brew tea with almonds and walnuts is a delicious and natural way to boost melatonin production. Plus, both nuts are incredibly high in magnesium, a mineral known to promote sleep and feelings of calmness.
The Bottom Line
The practice of preparing and enjoying a warm caffeine-free tea has positive effects on the body and mind. The warmth and aroma provide a sense of tranquility. It’s a small act of self-care, inviting a moment of relaxation and freedom. The hot water, forcing small sips, is hydrating and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Introduce this easy ritual into your nightly routine for improved sleep quality and a serene mind.