The Best Tea for Sleep

Lack of sleep can leave you with no energy, irritated, lethargic, and moody. Whether you struggle with falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or not getting …

Photo of author
Written by: Siobhan Mendicino
Published on:
Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
Learn about our editorial process

Lack of sleep can leave you with no energy, irritated, lethargic, and moody.

Whether you struggle with falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or not getting enough sleep, know that there are natural teas for sleep that may be effective for you.

Drinking herbal teas can be a helpful way to encourage sleep quality and quantity. In this article, we’ll discuss how herbal tea encourage sleep, the typical causes of sleep issues, and the best tea for sleep.   

the best teas for naturally supporting sleep


Poor sleep can stem from insufficient sleep or lack of quality deep sleep. Insomnia may appear as issues with falling or staying asleep. 

Experts in the US note that 33% of the population struggles with insomnia which may affect quality of life, academic performance, productivity, and mental and physical health.  

One of the biggest causes of poor sleep and insomnia is stress. Other factors that may influence sleep include: 

  • Sleep Environment
  • Caffeine Intake
  • Mental Health Conditions
  • Physical Pain

Lifestyle changes are one of the best ways to improve sleep quality. 

Herbal teas may have the ability to encourage sleep, ease tension, and soothe stress in the body, which may promote better quality sleep.

Click here to read through our list of the best herbs for sleep and the best places to buy them.

Best Tea for Sleep:

Below is a list of the best herbs to use in tea for sleep issues. These natural sleep teas have been used for hundreds of years to induce sleep and improve sleep quality.

valerian root tea for sleep
Valerian (Valerian officinalis L.)

1. Valerian (Valerian officinalis L.)

Valerian is one of the most well-known herbs for sleep and insomnia. Valerian root is thought to work as a sedative and an anxiolytic (i.e., it relaxes the brain).

In a clinical review of various valerian extracts, researchers found that valerian root effectively improved sleep. The study discovered that valerian root improved sleep quality and helped subjects fall asleep faster. 

A clinical study found that valerian root extract improved sleep quality and decreased the time it took for subjects to fall asleep. It should be noted that participants did report feelings of grogginess the following morning. 

Another clinical study discovered that valerian root effectively helped people fall asleep faster and have more restful sleep.

The American Botanical Council recommends combining valerian with other herbs like hops, passionflower, and lemon balm to make a “sleep tea.” 

Valerian root tea has a pungent, musky scent with an earthy flavor, so it is often blended with other herbs that support sleep.

Where To Buy:

Starwest Botanicals has a full lineup of organic tea options. Whether you are looking for the whole herb or a tea blend, Starwest is a great choice.

➡️ Buy Organic Valerian Root – Cut & Sift
➡️ Buy Organic Valerian Root – Powder
➡️ Buy Organic Bedtime Tea Blend (our editor’s choice)
chamomile tea to help insomnia
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

2. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Aromatic chamomile is a globally popular herb in the Asteraceae or daisy family. Chamomile tea is usually used to calm the body and mind, promote relaxation, and encourage digestion.

A clinical trial involving women with insomnia found that drinking chamomile tea improved sleep quality. The women also noted improved mental health.

Another clinical study involving elderly subjects discovered that chamomile significantly improved sleep quality and reduced the number of night-time sleep disturbances. Researchers noted that chamomile tea might be especially helpful for elderly subjects that have trouble staying asleep at night.   

The British Herbal Compendium recommends chamomile for internal tension and spasms and for mild sleep disorders. 

Chamomile tea has a fresh, floral scent with a hint of apples. It has a light floral flavor that blends well with other herbs.  

Where to Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Chamomile Flowers – Whole
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Chamomile – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Bedtime Tea Blend (our editor’s choice)
passion flower tea for inducing sleep
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

3. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is a unique herb commonly known for its exotic-looking blossoms. It has been used therapeutically and as food by numerous cultures, like the Cherokee and Apalachee Native American tribes, for thousands of years. 

A clinical trial found that passionflower tea was significantly able to help subjects experience deeper sleep. It should be noted that the passionflower was taken in a low dose, and the effects were short-term.

In another clinical study, passionflower significantly improved total sleep time. Subjects were given a small dose, suggesting passionflower may be a helpful herb to include in a night-time sleep-boosting tea. 

The German E Commission approved passionflower tea as a treatment for restlessness and nervousness. 

Passionflower tea has a floral flavor with a sweet aftertaste. It has a bright, tropical aroma and pairs well with other herbs for sleep.  

Where to Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Passionflower – Cut and Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Passionflower – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Bedtime Tea Blend (our editor’s choice)
the best teas for sleep - American Skullcap
American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

4. American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Another popular herb for promoting sleep, American skullcap is known for its ability to quiet cyclical thoughts. Skullcap is part of the herb category “nervine,” which has the potential to support the nervous system and ease nervous tension.  

A clinical trial observing health subjects found that skullcap may have an anxiolytic effect. A daily dose of skullcap extract reduced anxious sensations in participants.  

Another clinical study discovered that skullcap significantly improved overall mood, suggesting it may help ease anxiety in subjects experiencing nervous tension.

The Canada Natural Health Products Directorate (CNHP) recommends skullcap to relieve nervousness and aid sleep.  

Skullcap has a pleasant aroma with a grassy, bitter flavor.

Where to Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Skullcap – Cut and Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Skullcap – Powder
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Bedtime Tea Blend (our editor’s choice)
ashwagandha tea for a better night's sleep
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

5. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogenic herb that helps balance the body’s stress response. It’s thought that ashwagandha does this by reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body and improving sleep. 

In a clinical trial observing patients with insomnia, researchers found that ashwagandha helped people fall asleep faster and receive better sleep quality. It should also be noted that the ashwagandha also significantly reduced anxiety levels. 

Another clinical study discovered that ashwagandha helped subjects with insomnia by improving their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ashwagandha also improved the sleep quality of individuals without insomnia. 

A clinical study involving people with insomnia found that ashwagandha has a small effect on sleep quality. Researchers noted that ashwagandha also helped minimize anxious feelings. 

The Canada Natural Health Products Directorate has authorized ashwagandha as a sedative and sleep aid.

Ashwagandha is often described as having a strong, “horsey” aroma with an earthy and sightly bitter flavor. It is often mixed with tulsi and chamomile to encourage deep relaxation.

Where to Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Ashwagandha Root – Cut and Sift
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Ashwagandha Root – Powder
hops tea for sleep
Hops (Humulus lupulus)

6. Hops (Humulus lupulus)

The herb hops is a cone-like flower, or strobile, that grows on vines and belongs to the Cannibinaceae family. It is most commonly used in beer to impart a bitter, floral flavor and is known for its sleep-inducing properties.  

In a clinical trial, non-alcoholic hops beer improved the time it took for the study participants to fall asleep. The hops beer also reduced anxiety levels suggesting that hops tea may support those with anxiety-induced sleep issues. 

Another study observing the effects of hops extract found that hops reduced movement, improved overall sleep time, and reduced body temperature. These results suggest that hops has a sedative effect on the body. 

A clinical study involving participants with sleep disturbances discovered that valerian, hops, and jujube significantly improved the time it took for subjects to fall asleep, the amount of times they woke up during the night, and the overall time they were asleep. 

The Indian Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeiarecommends hops for restlessness and nervous tension, while in Germany, hops is licensed as a medicinal tea to be used as a sedative along with other actions. 

The British Herbal Compendiumrecommends hops for restlessness, excitability, and sleep disorders and reported it as a sedative and spasmolytic (eases tension in the body). 

Hops have a potent, bitter flavor and a pine-like, citrus scent. To create a relaxing tea with hops, it is usually blended with chamomile, passionflower, and linden.   

Where to Buy:

➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Hops Flowers – Whole
➡️ Buy Starwest Botanicals’ Organic Hops Flowers – Powder

How Herbs Support Sleep:

Herbs can help to improve sleep in various ways. Sleep-inducing teas can promote sedation, ease anxious feelings, and soothe stress and tension. 

The categories of herbs that improve sleep include: 

  • Sedative – these herbs potentially work with the brain to slow activity and prepare the body for sleep. 
  • Anxiolytic – this type of herb may ease anxious sensations and have a calming effect on the brain. These herbs are often used to quiet cyclical thoughts.  
  • Relaxing – as the name implies, these herbs ease tension in the body and relax muscles. 
  • Pain dampening – these herbs target and soothe discomfort in the body, allowing the body and brain to wind down for sleep.

Whatever your root issue is, there are various types of herbal teas for sleep that may help.

best teas for insomnia

Causes & Ways to Improve Insomnia:

There are many causes of poor sleep and insomnia, but one of the biggest is stress and excess cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the stress hormone that keeps the body and mind alert.   

Some other causes of poor sleep include:

  • Pain
  • Sleep environment 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Jet lag 
  • Alcohol 
  • Caffeine 
  • Abnormal working hours (working the night shift)
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Allergies  

Some lifestyle changes that may help encourage better sleep include: 

  • Avoiding caffeine after 3pm 
  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment
  • Exercise
  • Limiting alcohol consumption 
  • Taking baths before bed 
  • Managing stress with adaptogens  


Poor sleep or insomnia can significantly impact other areas of life. Drinking herbal tea for sleep may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, as well as balance stress in the body.  

It is essential to consult a professional healthcare practitioner if you’re considering adding any herbal teas to your daily regimen. 

Brock, C., Whitehouse, J., Tewfik, I., & Towell, T. (2014). American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 28(5), 692–698.

Cheah, K. L., Norhayati, M. N., Husniati Yaacob, L., & Abdul Rahman, R. (2021). Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 16(9), e0257843.

Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C, Romero E, et al. (2012) The Sedative Effect of Non-Alcoholic Beer in Healthy Female Nurses. PLoS ONE 7(7): e37290.

Kaur H, Spurling BC, Bollu PC. Chronic Insomnia. [Updated 2023 Feb 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, et al. (September 28, 2019) Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus 11(9): e5797. doi:10.7759/cureus.5797

Leathwood, P. D., Chauffard, F., Heck, E., & Munoz-Box, R. (1982). Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 17(1), 65–71.

Lee, J., Jung, H. Y., Lee, S. I., Choi, J. H., & Kim, S. G. (2020). Effects of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study. International clinical psychopharmacology, 35(1), 29–35.

Ngan, A., & Conduit, R. (2011). A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 25(8), 1153–1159.

Palmieri G, Contaldi P, Fogliame G. Evaluation of effectiveness and safety of a herbal compound in primary insomnia symptoms and sleep disturbances not related to medical or psychiatric causes. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017;9:163-169

Shinjyo N, Waddell G, Green J. Valerian Root in Treating Sleep Problems and Associated Disorders—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. 2020;25. doi:10.1177/2515690X20967323

Wolfson, P., & Hoffmann, D. L. (2003). An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 9(2), 74–78.

Photo of author

About Siobhan Mendicino

Siobhan is a herbal researcher and writer. She has a bachelor of science in communications as well as having completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in herbal studies.