Guest Contribution by Lucy Wyndham
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that 40 million people in the United States experience occasional sleep problems and about $41 billion is spent on sleeping aids and remedies every year. From sleeping pills to smart mattresses, these gadgets and gizmos are advertised as the perfect solution. However, they’re actually just an expensive solution. There’s a much cheaper and tastier way to go to sleep – drinking a cup of tea.
How tea helps you sleep
Tea–and green tea, in particular–is packed with many bioactive compounds that help you stay healthy while promoting a good night’s rest. The EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate, found in tea is an antioxidant that treats many diseases. Therefore, it removes toxins from your body as you sleep and helps you get a more relaxed and regenerative rest. However, the best part about tea is that it contains an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine increases dopamine and alpha wave production which creates a powerful combo that puts you to sleep. In essence, the amino acid is relaxing your mind, destressing your body, and putting you in a state of mind that’s conducive to sleep. According to scientific research, L-theanine can also reduce Obstructive Sleep Apnea and sleep insomnia.
But doesn’t it contain caffeine?
This is correct. Tea does have caffeine in it. However, it’s not the same type or quantity of caffeine that you find in coffee or energy drinks. Caffeine in coffee is meant to give you a jolt and make you more alert. The caffeine in tea gently stimulates your nervous system and activates your fight or flight system. After a while, it wears down this system and helps you calm down and enter a relaxing state. The caffeine in tea also works well with the L-theanine found in its properties. The L-theanine overpowers the caffeine and is strong enough that it helps you destress while the caffeine is mild enough that it allows you to sleep.
What tea to take and when
To get the most value out of your tea, you’ll want to drink it right before you go to bed. This will allow your body to enter its relaxed state and promote your sleep cycle. You’ll also want to try green tea or herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian root, and lavender. These modify the neurotransmitters involved in initiating sleep and can help you sleep even faster. If a certain brand doesn’t work for you, you should switch it up. Some people are also extra sensitive to caffeine so if the tea isn’t helping, try reducing the caffeine content by discarding tea bags faster. The less amount of time your tea bag or leaves are in hot water, the less caffeine will come through to your drink.
For a good night’s rest, ditch the expensive products and brew a cup of tea. It’ll help you clear your mind, destress, and catch some Zs.