The citrusy notes of lemon balm combine with spearmint, fennel, and rose for a gentle sleepy tea that's perfect for supporting a good night's rest. These herbs come together with passionflower and California poppy, which herbalists have traditionally used to encourage an easy mood and better sleep.
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What is it?
Sleepy tea is a bedtime tea blend that includes nourishing, sleep-supportive herbs. These herbs, which include rose and lemon balm among others, are traditionally used to calm the nervous system and encourage a good night's rest.
It has a minty flavor touched with notes of fennel and rose, undercut by a slightly bitter edge owing to the inclusion of California poppy. Ultimately, it's a soothing blend of herbs that supports rest and relaxation that is appropriate for both adults and children.
What's in it?
This bedtime tea contains six medicinal herbs that support relaxation and rest. Some herbs are relaxing nervines, which work by soothing the nerves. Others are soporifics - herbs that encourage and support good sleep. In combination, they work to support relaxation, ease nervous tension and promote a good night's rest.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a highly aromatic herb with a bright minty flavor undercut by the slightest sweetness. It's traditionally used to support digestion, but it also soothes the nerves. Animal studies have found evidence of the herb's anti-anxiety and sleep-supportive effects (1). Another study conducted on older adults found that spearmint helped improve memory and sleep (2).
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is also a member of the mint family; however, it tastes of citrus rather than mint, and it makes delicious herbal tea. Lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe anxiety and promote good sleep. Current research supports this traditional use with researching finding that supplementing with lemon balm decreased anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances (3, 4).
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) makes an excellent tea. It has a light flavor and is used to support rest and sleep (5). A study on passionflower tea found that it improved sleep quality (6).
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) blooms across the west coast of North America in sunny orange flowers. While botanically related to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), California poppy is mild, gentle in its action, and non-addictive. The herb is a common addition to sleep remedies.
Damask rose (Rosa damascena) has been used since ancient times in sacred and religious applications. It has a distinct, strong rosy aroma and is commonly used in both cosmetic and food applications. Like other roses, Damask rose promotes a sense of peace and calm. It also is a promising herb for encouraging sleep in adults (7).
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is traditionally used to support digestive health and to ease painful gas (8), and it's this use that it's best known for; however, recent research has explored its role in supporting the mood and easing feelings of anxiety and worry (9). In this recipe, it lends a subtly sweet, anise-like flavor that complements the mint and lemon balm.
Where to find organic herbs and spices
You can find many fresh herbs at your local grocery store; however, medicinal herbs can be harder to find locally. We recommend Starwest Botanicals because they stock a wide assortment of organic and ethically wildcrafted culinary and medicinal herbs.
You can (and should) adjust the recipe to your preferences and tastes. You might easily swap chamomile for California poppy, or add a touch of lavender in place of rose. Below you'll find a list of other herbs to consider adding to the remedy.
Chamomile relaxes the nervous system, promoting a sense of calm. It can be helpful in promoting good sleep.
Valerian encourages good sleep and tends to be stronger in its action than other similar herbs; however, it has a medicinal taste that some people dislike.
Lavender is a gentle herb that helps relax the spirit and is a natural addition to sleep remedies. Its potent flavor means that a little goes a long way.
Hawthorn is a vitamin-rich herb that soothes and nourishes the heart. If a racing heart charged with worry keeps you up at night, combining hawthorn with calming herbs can make a pleasant and soothing remedy.
Lemongrass has a pleasant citrusy flavor that adds interest to herbal teas. In addition, it's traditionally used to lift the spirit and works well in combination with similarly calming herbs.
Brew a cup of tea by pouring 8 to 12 ounces boiling water over 2 tablespoons herbal tea, steep for 5 minutes, and then strain and serve.
Store the dried herbal tea blend in a container with a tight-fitting lid in a cupboard away from direct light and heat. Discard it after 6 months.
The herbs in this tea blend are gentle and are considered by most herbalists to be safe for children. Smaller servings (2- to 4-ounces) is appropriate for most children.
Try these herbal remedies next
- Caro, Daneiva C et al. “Pharmacological Evaluation of Mentha spicata L. and Plantago major L., Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Anxiety and Insomnia in Colombian Caribbean Coast.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2018 5921514. 7 Aug. 2018
- Herrlinger, Kelli A et al. “Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-Associated Memory Impairment.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 24,1 (2018): 37-47.
- Haybar, Habib et al. “The effects of Melissa officinalis supplementation on depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with chronic stable angina.” Clinical nutrition ESPEN vol. 26 (2018): 47-52.
- Ranjbar, Maryam et al. “Effects of Herbal combination (Melissa officinalis L. and Nepeta menthoides Boiss. & Buhse) on insomnia severity, anxiety and depression in insomniacs: Randomized placebo controlled trial.” Integrative medicine research vol. 7,4 (2018): 328-332.
- Guerrero, Fructuoso Ayala, and Graciela Mexicano Medina. “Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep.” Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 10,3 (2017): 96-100.
- Ngan, A, and R Conduit. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 25,8 (2011): 1153-9.
- Ghorbani Rami, Mohammad Sadegh et al. “Effect of Rosa damascena on improvement of adults' sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Sleep medicine vol. 87 (2021): 8-19.
- Badgujar, Shamkant B et al. “Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicology.” BioMed research international vol. 2014 (2014)
- Ghazanfarpour, Masumeh et al. “Effect of Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) on symptoms of depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomised controlled trial.” Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology : the journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology vol. 38,1 (2018)