According to the Sleep Health Foundation, 1 in 3 people have at least mild insomnia. The reasons for this inability to sleep peacefully at night are many and range from psychiatric and medical conditions to unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and certain biological factors. Anxiety, depression, work-load pressure and even certain health conditions like arthritis, asthma and Parkinson’s disease can rob a person of a good night’s sleep.
People turn to a variety of remedies to be able to catch a wink when their head hits the pillow, and there are all types of options available from over the top counter medicines to home remedies. One of most widely used remedy for sleep deprivation is the use of chamomile, which has been utilized for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt!
So how does chamomile tea help you sleep?
Well, it does so by correcting several factors like insomnia, anxiety, depression and indigestion, which prevent sleep. According to reports from Molecular Medicine, Chamomile is regarded as a tranquilizer and a sleep inducer. Sedative effects are due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Drinking chamomile tea increases the glycine level in the body, a chemical that is known to help relax the nerves and muscles of an individual, while acting as a mild sedative. Also, a few of the chemicals in most of the chamomile species are distant relatives of opioids and can bind to opioid receptors. (Real opioids are used to put people to sleep; anesthesia)
Chamomile is naturally caffeine free, whereas most teas contain a significant amount of caffeine which if consumed result in an overall sense of alertness and wakefulness in an individual. The caffeine free chamomile tea provides warmth to the body, thereby calming your senses. Providing heat to the body either by way of drinking warm liquids or trapping heat around the body through a blanket or bed comforter is a natural way to start the sleep cycle. Much like a warm glass of milk before bed. Therefore, when you have a cup of chamomile tea, it calms your mind and helps you drift off to sleep.
Is there any scientific evidence to the claim?
There is in fact quite a bit!
In 2009, a study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reviewed the effectiveness of chamomile tea in patients who were diagnosed with anxiety. Those individuals who took chamomile showed a significant decrease in their anxiety levels as opposed to those who took a placebo.
Another study in 2012 showed that chamomile has powerful antidepressant properties, and may be useful in treating depression, in addition to anxiety reduction. It also showed that the effects of chamomile increased with continued use, meaning the body does not appear to develop a tolerance to chamomile.
A preliminary study looking at the effects of chamomile and sleep revealed that chamomile may be used to treat patients with chronic primary insomnia and is particularly suited to those who take a long time to fall asleep or those who wake up multiple times during the night. It also works well for those who have an adverse reaction to their current insomnia medication.
In short, chamomile is found to reduce stress and anxiety which help in bringing about sleep by removing these sleep inhibitors.
The tea ritual
Another interesting thing about chamomile and sleep is the whole tea making ritual. If you have an everyday ritual of making tea at night and enjoying it before going to bed, the whole act itself will relax and calm you, helping to bring about sleep fairly quickly. We live in a world where change is the only constant, and sometimes that tends to unnerve us. However, if we have something constant in our routine, even if that’s making and having a cup of tea before bed, we tend to feel in control of our lives, something that bring normalcy back into our lives, helping us be calm and relaxed. Amazing isn’t it?
Summing it all up, chamomile tea is a safe and natural sleep aid, and a hot cup about thirty minutes before bed can help bring about sleep quickly. Say goodbye to sleep-less nights!