« Should You Steep Before Sleep? »- The Drift


« You’ve seen the cartons beckoning to you from the tea aisle of your local supermarket: a pajama-swathed teddy bear snoozing soundly in an overstuffed armchair, his nightcap snug on his head. A moonlit house settling in for the night, one lone window still alight. A nest of soothing herbs cushioning an alluringly steaming mug. These cuddly package designs belong to different brands, but their contents all promise essentially the same thing—an herbal tea to help you fall asleep.

And why not? Humans around the world (especially British humans) depend on tea to wake up and more tea to make it through the day. Having another cup of the stuff—provided it’s uncaffeinated, as all sleep teas are—before bed seems perfectly natural. But do these teas really work? Are all of them created equally? Could some or all of the drowsy effects they advertise actually in our heads? Does that really matter? To find out, I spent the twilight hours of the past few weeks digging into the research on sleepy tea’s ingredients and experimenting with an assortment of products on myself. I’m happy to report that, on the whole, I rested well—but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to buy another box.
Before we get to that conclusion, we should be more precise about what “sleepy tea” means, exactly. I tried four brands—Bedtime by Yogi, Classic Sleepytime by Celestial Seasonings, Nighty Night by Traditional Medicinals, and Sweet Dreams by Bigelow.
All of them tasted generally of a damp, grassy field dotted with wildflowers and punctuated by fennel fronds; some were more full-bodied or gently spicy (in a licorice, peppermint, or clove sort of way), but all shared a largely similar flavor profile. Celestial Seasonings and Bigelow favor chamomile as their primary ingredient, along with an assortment of mints and flower blossoms. Yogi features valerian root and shares with Traditional Medicinals a focus on passionflower as a central component, alongside chamomile and a mix of other herbs and spices. Those varying mixes of lavender, lemon verbena, and raspberry leaves are nice on the nose, but the true active ingredients to keep in mind are chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower. (…) »

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Article by  J. Bryan Lowder