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Bedtime teas compared - Green vs Chamomile vs Valerian Root

From settling down with a good book, to a swift 5k run to round out the day, our evening routines can have a massive impact on our sleep patterns. One such routine that millions take refuge and relaxation in is an evening cup of tea. While the benefits are certainly there, you might want to consider exactly what it is you brew before bed.

Try these individually, or together in your own custom blend. Find loose teas and play with your own ratios. 

Green Tea

Green tea has been lauded as a superfood for many reasons, not least for it’s abundance of beneficial plant compounds. First up are the catechins, a group of antioxidants that include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epigallocatechin (EGC). These are the big guys that have given green tea its disease-fighting properties.

Although the caffeine in green tea might keep you awake, it can also improve nerve cell function and memory. Lastly, green tea is loaded with amino acids like theanine, and it’s this compound that we want to focus on for a minute.

Theanine is thought to reduce stress and promote relaxation, both key drivers for effective sleep. This amino acid works by reducing the hormones that are linked with stress and calming neuron excitement in the brain. There’s even evidence to suggest that drinking 3-4 cups of low-caffeine green tea each day can reduce fatigue, stress and improve sleep quality.

Chamomile

A bad chamomile might smell a bit like cat pee, but a top quality chamomile is pretty hard to beat. Long heralded as a sleep inducer, chamomile is chock full of an antioxidant called apegenin which is believed to decrease anxiety and help you drift off into the land of nod.

Numerous studies have shown that chamomile delivers real sleep benefits and not just duration of sleep. In one study concerning new mothers, those who had chamomile extract reported better nights sleep.

Valerian Root

You’ll find this unusual ingredient in many herbal blends. Originally, this tea was used during air raids in World War II to help calm stress and anxiety, but those properties have been utilised more recently to help those who struggle with insomnia to relax. Valerian root is actually the most popular herbal sleep aid in the US and Europe. It’s believed that this tea increases gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, a neurotransmitter known to increase sleepiness – which is also used in some anxiety medication.

Quick Summary

  • Apegenin in Chamomile helps decrease anxiety and induce sleep
  • The amino acid theanine, found in green tea reduces stress and promotes relaxation
  • Neurotransmitter GABA is found in valerian root and has a calming effect on the brain
October 30, 2019 — JAMIE SMALLEY