- This article has been written and medically reviewed by Dr. Darshan Shingala (M.D, MPH) – a qualified and practicing medical doctor – for maximum factual accuracy and reliability.
I have struggled since I was a child to sleep properly at night due to anxiety.
This means that I have tried just about everything you can think of to help me get to sleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
And whilst some medications have helped, I don’t like relying on them and I’d much prefer to take something like a herbal tea that’s safer and non-addictive.
Chamomile tea is often recommended to help with sleep – but does it actually work?
Chamomile tea has been shown in scientific studies to help with sleep by acting as a sedative-hypnotic – where the apigenin antioxidant acts upon the GABA receptors in the brain much like benzodiazepines do to reduce anxiety and allow for the onset of sleep .
I have personally experienced some positive effects of taking chamomile tea in the hour before bed.
The rest of this article explains in more detail how chamomile tea works to help with sleep and provides 8 ways for you to take chamomile tea effectively for better sleep.
If you are on medication (like Cymbalta/Duloxetine), have a pollen allergy, or have any underlying health conditions then you should talk to your doctor before consuming chamomile tea.
Related: a new mattress can help you sleep better – click here to see the best mattresses for better sleep that I have personally tested.
How Chamomile Tea Can Help You Sleep Better
Chamomile tea can help you to get to sleep by acting as a mild tranquilizer through the action of the apigenin antioxidant on the GABA receptors in the brain to promote sleep.
More specifically, chamomile tea is derived from the organic composites of the dry chamomile flower.
An infusion prepared using chamomile contains many antioxidants such as apigenin and luteolin.
These provide several potential health benefits for the human body, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and stress-relieving effects .
Apigenin and Luteolin are classified as flavonoids, and it has been found through various scientific studies that these active chemical compounds play a key role in encouraging sleep.
They synchronize the circadian rhythm – calming the central and peripheral nervous systems, and inducing stress-relieving and sedative effects by relaxing tensed muscles.
They also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
The underlying mechanism hypothesized to be behind the potential health benefits of chamomile tea is related to the structural bond formulated between the flavonoids, such as apigenin and luteolin, and the neuronal receptors, such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and benzodiazepine, in the nervous system [3, 4].
Scientific Proof That Chamomile Tea Can Help With Sleep
A clinical trial conducted in 2015 demonstrates the effectiveness of chamomile tea in helping to aid the onset of sleep.
This trial was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing and aimed to evaluate the effects of chamomile tea on sleep quality, fatigue, and depression among postpartum women.
The randomized controlled trial consisted of 80 women who were struggling with poor postpartum sleep quality.
The study participants were equally divided into an experimental group and a control group.
The women in the experimental group consumed chamomile tea for 2 weeks, while the women in the control group received only regular postpartum care.
The findings of the study showed significantly lower sleep quality problems, fatigue, and depression levels among the women who had consumed chamomile tea.
Based on the results of this controlled trial, it can be suggested that the positive sedative-hypnotic effects of chamomile tea can be highly beneficial, especially for postpartum women .
8 Ways to Use Chamomile Tea for Better Sleep
Below are 8 ways that you can use chamomile tea for better sleep:
1: Drink Chamomile Tea 45 Minutes Before Bed to Help Sleep
Drinking chamomile tea 45 minutes before bed each night can reduce your stress hormones and help you to get to sleep.
It is a well-known and evidence-based fact that high levels of cortisol in the blood plasma are associated with several sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and chronic insomnia.
Cortisol – also known as the stress hormone – is produced by the adrenal glands in response to physical, mental, or emotional stress, and when the glucose concentration in our blood drops.
In other words, if a person is dealing with chronic stress they will have excessively high levels of cortisol in their blood, which will certainly disrupt their sleep cycle.
As portrayed in a number of scientific studies, researchers believe that chamomile tea can help regulate stress, and therefore optimize the production and release of the cortisol hormone.
Some studies also show that chamomile tea can influence the production of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which is secreted by the anterior part of the pituitary gland.
ACTH stimulates the release of cortisol and is therefore an important component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis .
Chamomile tea can help to improve the quality of your sleep by minimizing the stress response by influencing the endocrine system and indirectly lowering the levels of stress-related hormones, particularly ACTH and cortisol.
2: Prepare the Tea Correctly to Avoid Disrupting Sleep
Chamomile tea is generally available in the form of tea bags or loose composite flowers and tea leaves.
If you are using naturally dried flowers or leaves, it is better to pour boiling water over about a teaspoon of chamomile and let it steep, rather than boiling the tea in a pot.
Alternatively, you could simply place the dried chamomile herb into an infuser and steep the tea in your serving cup.
This way you will retain the therapeutic properties of the chamomile and enhance its flavor.
If you are using chamomile tea bags, it is best to let the tea steep in the serving cup for at least three to five minutes before consumption.
How to Make Chamomile Tea to Help You Sleep
The best way to consume chamomile tea so that it helps you sleep rather than disrupting it is as follows:
- It is best that you consume your tea no less than 30 minutes after your dinner, and at least 40 to 45 minutes before bedtime, so that you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to urinate.
- I suggest waiting for around 25 to 35 minutes to brush your teeth after drinking tea, in order to prevent the erosion of tooth enamel.
- It is best if you can avoid adding sugar to your tea, so as to limit your carbohydrate consumption at night time. However, if you prefer adding a little bit of sweetness, you can consider using honey, jaggery, or stevia.
- To obtain maximum benefits from your chamomile tea, it is best to let it steep for at least three to five minutes before removing the infuser from the teapot. This is considered to be enough time to enhance the therapeutic properties of chamomile.
- If you prefer to consume an iced version of the tea, you should let the cold brew steep overnight, or for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
3: Drink Organic Chamomile Tea for the Best Taste
Organic chamomile tea will typically have a stronger and more pleasing flavor than a non-organic chamomile tea blend.
An organic blend of chamomile tea can be an incredibly potent brew that may help in inducing sleepiness, as it targets the same receptors in the brain as many chemically prepared anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills, and hypnotic medications [6,7].
Researchers suggest that an herbal tea infused with chamomile flowers can be an amazing natural substitute or adjunct therapy for anyone who is suffering from a sleep disorder or has trouble getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
A high-quality organic blend of chamomile tea has few to no adverse side effects, but I still recommend you consult with your doctor prior to making any changes to your current medical regimen.
4: Replace Caffeinated Drinks With Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a healthy beverage that does not contain caffeine – making it an excellent choice for replacing caffeinated beverages later on in the day so that you don’t feel overstimulated at bedtime.
A caffeine-free beverage offers several advantages.
For example, it can be consumed safely during pregnancy, it will not keep you awake if consumed close to bedtime, and it does not have a diuretic effect – so drinking chamomile tea before going to bed will not make you urinate frequently, or disturb your sleep-wake cycle .
On the contrary, in comparison to caffeinated drinks, chamomile tea is rather hydrating and calming, which will help with your sleep cycle instead of keeping you awake at night.
Many scientific studies have found that dehydration can interfere with the production of the melatonin hormone in the body, which in turn disrupts sleep homeostasis and circadian rhythm .
5: Drink Chamomile Tea Every Night to Reduce Stress
Chamomile tea is safe to drink every night to help you relax naturally – as long as you are not allergic to chamomile-containing products or taking medication that may interact with it such as blood thinners, sedatives, Cytochrome P 450 substrates, or cyclosporine
In the modern world, it is almost impossible for us to remain stress-free, due to our ingrained contemporary habits of the 21st century.
We spend our lives scrolling through social media, browsing the internet, struggling to meet work-related deadlines, maintaining a work-life balance, and juggling financial issues.
Eventually, these stresses take a toll on our bodies and make us prone to developing cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and sleep-related disorders.
Studies suggest that indulging in wholesome activities in which we utilize more than one of our sensory systems can serve as a great stress buster .
For instance, when we make and consume tea, its organic essence and warmth can be extremely relaxing, and using our tactile, olfactory, and gustatory senses induces a calming effect on the mind and body .
It is a well-known fact that a calm mind and a relaxed body are crucial elements for obtaining good quality sleep.
Developing a nighttime routine that includes some mindful activities can help you unwind from your daily stress.
It is also scientifically proven that drinking warm liquids, especially before going to bed, can potentially curtail blood pressure, relieve muscle stiffness and mitigate symptoms of inadequate sleep .
So consuming a nice, warm cup of chamomile before bedtime can make you drowsy, and prepare you for a long and restful night’s sleep.
6: Drink Chamomile Tea Daily to Combat Anxiety
Drinking chamomile tea regularly may help to reduce the anxiety that may be keeping you awake at night.
Furthermore, consuming a cup of chamomile tea on a daily basis may offer a number of additional health benefits, aside from improving your sleep patterns.
Studies show that chamomile can help to promote cardiovascular health, boost the immune system, and improve the overall appearance and quality of our hair, skin, and nails.
It is also said to prevent degenerative bone loss, reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers, and minimize barriers against sleep, such as negative feelings and depressive thoughts [13,14].
I suggest that you consider consuming chamomile tea on a regular basis, not only to improve the quality of your sleep but also to enhance your overall health and wellbeing.
7: Inhale Chamomile Tea Vapors to Induce Sleep
Breathing in the steam from chamomile tea may have several beneficial effects, ranging from promoting anti-inflammatory responses to stimulating sleep hormones.
There is some anecdotal evidence suggesting that inhaling the steam from chamomile tea before going to bed can be very effective in decongesting the upper respiratory tract, and improving respiration and blood flow while sleeping.
The vapors from chamomile infusions can also help to loosen any nasal congestion, ease a sore throat, and provide some pain relief – especially if you are recovering from an infection or seasonal flu.
Inhalation is a great option for those who do not enjoy the taste of the tea, or who prefer to limit their consumption of fluids during the evening hours.
It allows you to reap the benefits of the herb, and get a restful and healthy night’s sleep.
8: Drink Chamomile Tea Before Bed to Combat Pain at Night
Chamomile tea contains several anti-inflammatory and muscle-relaxing compounds, such as hippurate and glycine that may help to combat inflammation and reduce pain in the body.
More specifically, hippurate helps to reduce any ongoing inflammatory processes in the body.
Whilst glycine helps to relieve muscle spasms – such as those experienced during the menstrual cycle, or stress-related muscle tension and body stiffness related to poor sleeping posture.
Research suggests that chamomile tea helps to relax the spasmatic muscles, calming the inflammation and increasing the blood flow to the affected area for a speedy recovery.
Chamomile Tea and Sleep FAQs
Below are the answers to some of the questions regarding chamomile tea and sleep:
How Long Does it Take for Chamomile Tea to Make You Sleepy?
On average, a cup of chamomile tea should take up to an hour to make you sleepy.
However, this time interval will differ from person to person, depending on various factors such as the individual’s stress levels and sleep patterns, as well as the quality of the tea itself.
It is always best to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after the consumption of chamomile tea, as it has a tendency to cause drowsiness.
Does Chamomile Tea Contain Caffeine?
Natural, high-quality, organic chamomile tea does not contain caffeine.
Is it Safe to Drink Chamomile Tea Every Night?
Drinking a cup of organic chamomile tea on a regular basis is safe as long as you are not allergic to chamomile or pollen – as this may trigger an episode of dermatitis, asthmatic attack, or anaphylactic shock – or taking any medications that may interact with the tea, such as cymbalta, blood thinners, sedatives, Cytochrome P 450 substrates, or cyclosporine.
However, I highly recommend you consult your physician to prevent any potential pharmacological interactions between the tea and your current medical prescriptions.
In addition to this, please be extra cautious if you have a family history of renal disease, or if you have been diagnosed with any nephrotic condition.
Be sure to buy a high-quality and certified brand of this tea to avoid unnecessary exposure to various forms of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Are There Any Side Effects to Chamomile Tea?
There are no known major side effects of chamomile tea recorded in any scientific literature to date – some minor side effects such as nausea and vomiting have been documented, but their direct association with chamomile needs further exploration – other recorded side effects are typically associated with taking chamomile with other medications or in the presence of a pollen allergy.
More specifically, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also recognized chamomile as a safe herbal ingredient.
Some doctors suggest that one should avoid frequent consumption of chamomile tea if allergic to pollen, as this may trigger an episode of dermatitis, asthmatic attack, or even anaphylactic shock.
It is very important to take note, and exercise caution if you are taking certain medications which may potentially interact with this herbal brew.
For instance, chamomile may alter the potency of blood thinners, sedatives, Cytochrome P 450 substrates, and cyclosporine, because of their common metabolic pathway [16, 17].
How Much Chamomile Tea is Too Much?
Although chamomile tea is considered to be generally safe, consuming no more than four cups of chamomile tea a day is considered to be an acceptable limit.
What is Chamomile Tea Made Up Of?
Chamomile belongs to the plant family Asteraceae.
It has a bitter yet mildly fruity flavor which is sometimes compared to the taste of apple.
It is interesting to note that the term chamomile originates from the Greek words “chamai melon” which means “ground apple”.
Is it Safe for Children to Drink Chamomile Tea?
It is safe for children to consume chamomile tea.
In fact, chamomile tea consumption can actually help improve children’s immune systems, and aid them in recovering quickly from the symptoms of infectious diseases, such as coughs, sore throats, and sinus congestion.
Conclusion: A Natural Way to Relax Into Sleep
Chamomile tea has been shown to help with sleep and offers a natural way to relax into sleep when compared to more addictive sleep medications.
Always consult with your doctor before taking chamomile tea if you are on medication, have allergies, or have any underlying medical conditions.
Sources and References
1: Chang, S.-M. & Chen, C.-H. (2016) Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Advanced Nursing 72( 2), 306– 315. doi: 10.1111/jan.12836
2: Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377
3: Hieu TH, Dibas M, Surya Dila KA, 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. Phytother Res. 2019;33(6):1604-1615. doi:10.1002/ptr.6349
4: Chang SM, Chen CH. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):306-315. doi:10.1111/jan.12836
5: Keefe JR, Guo W, Li QS, Amsterdam JD, Mao JJ. An exploratory study of salivary cortisol changes during chamomile extract therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2018;96:189-195 doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.011
6: Mao JJ, Li QS, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Xie SX, Amsterdam JD. Long-Term Chamomile Therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Trial. J Clin Trials. 2014;4(5):188. doi:10.4172/2167-0870.1000188
7: Juarascio, Adrienne & Cuellar, Norma & Gooneratne, Nalaka. (2012). Chapter-9; Alternative Therapeutics for Sleep Disorders. 10.1016/B978-1-4377-1703-7.10009-X.
8: Maliakal PP, Wanwimolruk S. Effect of herbal teas on hepatic drug metabolizing enzymes in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001;53(10):1323-1329. doi:10.1211/0022357011777819
9: Medic G, Wille M, Hemels ME. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017;9:151-161. Published 2017 May 19. doi:10.2147/NSS.S134864
10: Pressman SD, Matthews KA, Cohen S, et al. Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosom Med. 2009;71(7):725-732. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978
11: Abdullahzadeh M, Matourypour P, Naji SA. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial. J Educ Health Promot. 2017;6:53. Published 2017 Jun 5. doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_109_15
12: Li D, Wang R, Huang J, et al. Effects and Mechanisms of Tea Regulating Blood Pressure: Evidences and Promises. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1115. Published 2019 May 18. doi:10.3390/nu11051115
13: Al-Dabbagh B, Elhaty IA, Elhaw M, et al. Antioxidant and anticancer activities of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.). BMC Res Notes. 2019;12(1):3. Published 2019 Jan 3. doi:10.1186/s13104-018-3960-y
14: Adib-Hajbaghery M, Mousavi SN. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2017;35:109-114. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2017.09.010
15: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Chamomile. [Updated 2021 Feb 15]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501808/
16: Colombo D, Lunardon L, Bellia G. Cyclosporine and herbal supplement interactions. J Toxicol. 2014;2014:145325. doi:10.1155/2014/145325
No part of this website offers medical advice – always consult with a doctor for the best guidance for you.
Image Attribution and Licencing
Main image: ‘Cup of green herbal camomile tea and herbs’ by TasiPas (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
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