Does Chamomile Tea Make You Sleepy?

Sleep problems have become widespread after the recent pandemics. 

Such a rise in the prevalence responds to increases in anxiety levels and depression. 

But in some cases, you can solve the problem with lifestyle modifications and a few home therapies. 

Soothing teas are an excellent idea to prepare for sleep, and chamomile is a common herb to wind at night. 

But is chamomile tea good for you as a tea to drink before bed? How does chamomile work?

This article will provide a brief and evidence-based review of chamomile as a sleep aid. 

You will also know what chamomile tea helps with, besides soothing your mind before bed.

Does chamomile tea make you sleepy?

Chamomile tea is an infusion made with chamomile flowers. This plant is also known as Matricaria chamomilla. However, there is also a roman variety of chamomile known as Chamaemelum nobile and other Matricaria varieties such as Matricaria recutita. 

What these herbs have in common is a tranquilizer and sleep-inducer effect. Its use dates back to ancient Greece, where it was recommended as a mild astringent and anti-inflammatory. 

Many people nowadays use chamomile tea for sleep support. They report that chamomile tea makes them feel relaxed and sleepy. This effect has also been tested scientifically in animal models and human studies.

There’s a placebo-controlled study about chamomile efficacy for sleep disorders. Sleep latency and nighttime awakenings improved after using the infusions. Daytime functioning was better, and patients reduced their Fatigue Severity scores. 

In other words, chamomile tea’s effects on sleep were positive, even in patients with a diagnosed sleep disorder (1).

Still, it is essential to remember that chamomile tea may work differently in every case. Its efficiency depends on the quality of the tea, the variant, and the growth conditions of the plant. It is likely to improve sleep quality, especially if you have difficulties falling asleep (sleep latency).

But why is chamomile tea good for sleep?

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How does chamomile tea help you sleep?

What does chamomile tea do in your system, and why does it make you sleepy? 

A recent study took over this question and provided an excellent answer based on the chemistry of chamomile tea. 

One of the main chemicals is glucuronoxylan, with sedative and pain reliever effects. Another important substance is apigenin, a flavonoid that binds to brain receptors commonly triggered by benzodiazepines (2).

Apigenin can be a sedative substance and reduce anxiety disorder symptoms. However, some authors do not agree and say that it is probably due to other benzodiazepine-like substances (3). 

Exploring further into the mechanism, Chaves and collaborators found and isolated a xylan in chamomile that shows pain-relieving properties. 

But upon examining the pain-relieving effects of chamomile, they found that the same substance also had a sedative and anti-anxiety effect (2). 

Another mechanism has to do with melatonin and chamomile infusions. In another recent study, plenty of herbal infusions were evaluated to measure the melatonin content. The researchers found that chamomile and green tea contain the highest value (4).

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland to induce sleep. It is released when the lights are out, and the body perceives it is bedtime. 

That’s why we also have sleep supplements with melatonin. But according to studies, we can turn to chamomile as a natural source of this soothing substance.

How long does it take for chamomile tea to make you sleepy? 

Teas for good sleep, such as chamomile and valerian, do not act immediately. You need to give them some time to be absorbed and processed by the organism. So, how long does it take for chamomile tea to work?

After taking this sleep remedy, you may need to wait around 30 to 45 minutes for it to take effect. It will likely be a relaxation effect, but not drowsiness like synthetic drugs. 

So, after drinking your tea, we would recommend preparing your bed for sleeping and dimming your lights to prepare for deep relaxation.

The time it takes for chamomile tea to work depends on various factors. One of them does not rely on you because it refers to the quality of the chamomile tea and the variant of the plant. 

But your baseline sleep problems and their severity are also important. Since chamomile does not cause drowsiness or extreme somnolence, your behavior and what you do before, during, and after drinking chamomile tea are also essential to experience the best results.

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Can you drink chamomile tea before bed?

Chamomile is one of the best tea infusions to drink before bed. However, the properties of chamomile start manifesting up to 45 minutes after drinking. 

So, instead of drinking the infusion right before bed, it is better to give it time to start acting. If you do something else while waiting for the effects of chamomile tea, you will experience a much better sleep quality.

For example, you can take your chamomile tea one hour before bed. During this hour, you can dim the lights, read something, take a hot bath, and prepare the room to sleep. All of this will have an additive effect and boost the sedative properties of chamomile tea.

Studies suggest that sleep latency improves after drinking chamomile tea. In other words, the time it takes to fall asleep becomes reduced. Thus, drinking chamomile tea before bed is an excellent idea.

Does chamomile tea make you sleepy the next day?

An interesting aspect of chamomile tea is that people who drink the infusion do not experience extreme drowsiness or sleepiness. It just helps them wind down and relax in bed. 

That’s why it is so important to follow extra recommendations to boost the sleep-inducing activities of chamomile.

Since chamomile tea does not cause extreme drowsiness, it is not very likely to cause sleepiness the next day. 

Quite the opposite, because the research we mentioned above showed that daytime functioning improved significantly after drinking chamomile infusions. Fatigue scores were reduced, and patients who previously had insomnia stopped experiencing daytime sleepiness.

In contrast with other sleep aids, the health benefits of chamomile tea come with little to no side effects. In fact, the study mentioned above evaluated the safety of chamomile tea and found that instead of giving side effects, they were reduced compared to placebo. 

Adverse events in the gastrointestinal tract and musculoskeletal system were reduced by 11.7 and 5.9%. Patients drinking chamomile tea also reported a lower rate of dizziness, headaches, and infections.

Daytime sleepiness was not reported as a side effect. Instead, fatigue levels the following day were reduced (1).

chamomile tea benefits

How to make chamomile tea

Now that you’re interested in adopting the habit of a bedtime tea, how do you make the infusion? Here’s how to make chamomile tea:

  • If you have a chamomile tree, remove the chamomile flowers from the stem. A handful of them is enough for 8 ounces of water.
  • Rinse the flower to remove any debris they may have. You may optionally store the flowers for 48 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Wrap with a paper towel and place the flowers in a container.
  • Boil water using a kettle or a pot. Ideally, you can use a tea kettle, which has built-in areas to put the petals.
  • If you don’t have a specific device to make tea infusions, use a cloth strainer such as those you use to prepare coffee. Place the flowers inside and pour the hot water into a container or pot to receive the infusion. 
  • Leave the water in contact with the petals for 5 minutes.
  • Serve your teacup and enjoy.

How to use chamomile to sleep better

Besides drinking chamomile tea for sleep aid purposes, you can also use chamomile tea in other ways:

Tea blends

One way to boost the sleep-inducing effects of chamomile is by blending this tea with other soothing preparations. For example, you can use chamomile tea with valerian or try your own blends.

Chamomile drops

Chamomile comes in different presentations. You can find chamomile drops to place under your tongue. 

They are highly concentrated chamomile flower extracts, and only a few drops are needed to achieve results.

Chamomile supplements

You could also find chamomile supplements with crushed flowers on the market. They come in capsules containing dry herbs. 

One benefit of this type of supplement is how practical they are. They are very easy to administer, and since you have a specific dose for each capsule, you can measure how much you usually need to experience the effects.

Chamomile essential oils

These oils are also concentrated extracts made of chamomile flowers. They are blended in an oily base as a vehicle and can be applied to the skin or used as aromatherapy in a diffuser. 

The main goal is to obtain a soothing aroma that helps you sleep. Like lavender, many people trust chamomile essential oils every night to facilitate sleep.

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How much chamomile do I take to sleep?

Depending on your sleeping problems, you could use a higher or lower dose of chamomile to sleep. Sleep research in humans uses capsules because the dose is easier to measure. 

The usual dose is around 500 mg in capsules. This dose has been found to improve sleep measures and daytime fatigue in patients with chronic insomnia. Thus, it will probably make you fall asleep faster if your problem is not as severe.

But can you drink too much chamomile tea? So far, studies have not reported any significant side effects (1).

Other health benefits of chamomile tea

Chamomile tea’s benefits go beyond anxiety and sleeping aids. Actually, it was used in ancient times for many other purposes. 

Recent studies show that it reduces gastrointestinal symptoms and other problems compared to placebo. Thus, it is not a placebo effect, and chamomile can help with other conditions.

For instance (4):

It is a potent anti-inflammatory

Chamomile contains many anti-inflammatory flavonoids such as matricin and alpha-bisabolol. Even when you use chamomile in the skin, it is known to penetrate deeper layers and relieve inflammation.

It can be useful against the common cold

Studies also suggest that inhaling chamomile essential oils may relieve common cold symptoms.

It has cardioprotective effects

Studies suggest that people who consume more flavonoids are less likely to suffer from heart disease. Studies on chamomile in humans also found improvements in cardiac health.

It relieves gastrointestinal problems

Chamomile can be used as a remedy against diarrhea in children and colics in infants. It also relieves upset stomach conditions, gastrointestinal irritation, and flatulence in adults.

Tips to improve your sleep

If you are using teas to help you sleep, they will work much better when combined with a few lifestyle modifications. You can also try different methods to achieve a better result. 

For instance:

  • Put lavender essential oil in a diffuser every night. Lavender aromatherapy is known to induce sleep and works in synergy with chamomile. Aroma sticks can also help if you don’t have essential oils.
  • Try combinations with other soothing teas, such as passionflower tea and hibiscus tea.
  • Try melatonin supplements if your sleep problems do not respond to chamomile alone.
  • Keep a soothing nighttime routine, such as taking an evening bath before sleep.
  • Try to control stress with mindfulness and meditation before sleeping.
  • Reduce screen time around nighttime.

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Conclusion

Chamomile tea before bed is a good idea to wind down and prepare for sleep. It is not associated with daytime sleepiness and reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep.

Chamomile is not a strong sedative and does not cause extreme drowsiness. Thus, if you want to boost the effect of this soothing tea, it is a good idea to drink chamomile one hour before bedtime. During this time, prepare your bed, dim the lights, do something relaxing and reduce screen use.

Other benefits of chamomile include a reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms, an anti-inflammatory effect, and symptom improvements in the common cold.

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Sources

  1. Zick, S. M., Wright, B. D., Sen, A., & Arnedt, J. T. (2011). Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 11(1), 1-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21939549/
  2. Chaves, P. F. P., Palloma de Almeida, S. H., Dallazen, J. L., de Paula Werner, M. F., Iacomini, M., Andreatini, R., & Cordeiro, L. M. (2020). Chamomile tea: Source of a glucuronoxylan with antinociceptive, sedative and anxiolytic-like effects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 164, 1675-1682. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32795578/
  3. Avallone, R., Zanoli, P., Puia, G., Kleinschnitz, M., Schreier, P., & Baraldi, M. (2000). Pharmacological profile of apigenin, a flavonoid isolated from Matricaria chamomilla. Biochemical pharmacology, 59(11), 1387-1394. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10751547/
  4. Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Molecular medicine reports, 3(6), 895-901. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

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