Whether you’re British or not, a warm cup of tea is one of the most amazing things you can add to your bedtime routine. You might be a teaholic already, you might be a casual tea drinker or you might even abhor the sight of a steaming cuppa. In this post, I hope to either inflame your love for this hot beverage further or entice you to try it.
There is nothing as lovely as making a warm cup of tea, and nestling into a warm blanket. If you add a good book into the mixture you might just be getting an early taste of paradise.
While some people swear by their pre-bed cup of hot brew, others are wary of the consequences.
Consequences, you might be asking, what consequences?
Well, here’s a little fact that you may not be aware of. Regular black, green and white tea leaves contain caffeine. Just like a cup of coffee, black, green or white tea can stimulate you into wakefulness. Obviously, this might not be a good idea before you want to go to sleep.
A way to decaffeinate your tea is to dunk your teabag twice. First, put your teabag in a cup of hot water. Then dump that cup out and make another cup of tea with the same bag. Since the largest part of the caffeine in the teabag are released early in the steeping process, the quick dunk will help decaffeinate your tea.
If you don’t want to take the risk of drinking caffeine right before bed, you might want to opt for a caffeine-free herbal blend. We will look more closely at types of herbal teas in the second part of the article.
If you don’t mind taking in some caffeine, health experts highly recommend drinking green tea before bed. Not only does this tea boost your immune system and improve your ability to focus. Some studies have also shown that it can reduce the chance of getting cancer. Overall, it is a great health booster.
Some more reasons you should start drinking green tea before bed.
Green Tea Helps You Sleep
Didn’t I just say that green tea contains caffeine? Shouldn’t that wake you up instead of making you go to sleep? Not so fast, my friend.
As any sleep expert might tell you, it is not really a matter of how long you sleep. It is more a matter of how high the quality of sleep is that you’re getting.
Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid offers many interesting properties, including anti-anxiety and relaxation.
As relaxing agent, L-theanine not only benefits those who struggle with insomnia. It is also used as a natural treatment for anxiety. L-theanine is an excellent option for people who struggle with sleeplessness but don’t want to go the chemical route. It naturally improves both the quality and length of sleep.
Together with the caffeine also contained in green tea, L-theanine will not leave you feeling drowsy like many sleep medications do. It will help you to wake up feeling refreshed and energetic during the day.
Green tea helps you lose fat
According to studies done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea has been shown to increase the fat-burning metabolism by up to 4%.
This super-drink is also able to regulate your hormones. At the same time, it is able to decrease your appetite by keeping your blood sugar and hunger-hormones in check. It then also increases the hormones that help burn fat.
Another great property of green tea is that it helps with your digestion. If you struggle with constipation or have some other digestive difficulty, drinking green tea at night can help your gut stay healthy
It helps to improve your immune system
Green tea is well-known for the many antioxidants it contains. One of the antioxidants in green tea is called polyphenols. Polyphenols act as an anti-inflammatory and can result in a boost in your immune system. It can also help people that suffer from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Some other great substances contained in green tea are catechins. These antioxidants fight bacterial and viral infections and can help your body protect itself against colds and flu. Experts claim that drinking green tea before bed can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by as much as 60-70%.
Something that you should look out for, however, is not drinking green tea on an empty stomach. This can lead to dehydration and overstimulation of gastric acid. Consuming green tea on an empty stomach has also been linked to reduced absorption of vitamin B1, iron and calcium.
Green tea reduces the risk of cancer
The studies in this field are still ongoing, but some positive results have already come to light. It has been revealed that drinking green tea can lower the risk of getting various kinds of cancer. Included is cancer of the liver, colon, breast, bladder, pancreas, stomach and prostate.
Scientists at Penn State University has recently found in a research study that the compound EGCG fights against tumour cell invasion. This compound, found in green tea, causes reactive oxygen species to form in diseases. The mitochondria then use this breakthrough to create more responsive species, smothering the cancer cells’ expression of anti-oxidant genes.
In a study done by Mayo Clinic, it has been mentioned that green tea extract in pill form has shown positive results in treating chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
It improves your dental health
Bad breath and oral hygiene are most likely caused by the growth of inflammatory and harmful bacteria in the mouth. Drinking a cup of green tea at night can help keep your dental hygiene up to par.
Green tea contains catechins, an agent that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth. The antioxidants have also been shown to fight infections and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Studies have shown that citrus makes catechins easier to absorb, so adding a squeeze of lemon to your evening cup of tea might be a good idea.
According to a recent study done on Japan, green tea can also help boost the health of your teeth and gums. Researchers claim to have found that the regular intake of green tea will benefit the drinkers’ teeth in the long run.
It might also reduce the risk of getting periodontal disease. This chronic inflammatory disease affects the gums and bones that support the teeth and can be very painful.
Green tea improves your cardiovascular health
Especially when drunk at night, a nice hot cup of green tea might decrease your chance of getting a heart disease.
According to a study done at Harvard University can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. The study also showed that this tea may also reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Another study done in Japan found that drinking green tea might lower the risk of heart attacks or stroke. This study was done on 40000 adults and the participants who consumed more than five cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of getting stroke of heart attack. Interestingly, they also had a 15% lower chance of dying.
A third study has tried to show that people who drink green tea has a lower risk of coronary artery disease.
Green tea sounds pretty amazing, but you might still be hesitant to drink caffeine right before you go the bed. That’s perfectly fine, and I’ve included a few handy herbal brews especially for your benefit.
Here in South Africa, we are fortunate to have an ample supply of rooibos tea. Like most herbal teas, rooibos contains almost no caffeine and therefore is an excellent choice to drink before bed.
Some other herbal teas that are good to drink before bedtime are chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea. These teas are usually caffeine free unless the blend contains some regular tea leaves as well.
Here are some more lovely herbal teas you can drink to get better sleep.
This traditional remedy has been widely known for its calming properties for a long time. It has some amazing antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, some of which that may be beneficial to reducing inflammation.
Chamomile has not only been used to fight insomnia, but it has also been used to reduce anxiety and stress. It has even been known to heal an upset stomach. Research has shown that chamomile might contain a specific flavonoid that triggers a calming reaction in the brain. It relaxes your muscles and nerves, acting like mild and natural sedative.
For best results, you should allow your chamomile to brew for at least ten minutes.
Not only does lavender have an aromatic and relaxing smell, but it also has many beneficial medicinal properties.
Lavender, like chamomile, contains antioxidants that are beneficial to your body. Drinking just one cup of hot lavender infused water in the evening can help reduce anxiety and ease the tension in your body. It can also help your mind to relax and help you drift off to sleep. Lavender also has some healing properties, as it helps to reduce coughing and other respiratory problems.
When used as a wash, lavender has been known to reduce and ease the effects of bronchitis, asthma and colds.
The anti-inflammatory agent in lavender, that helps with the abovementioned issues, can also help reduce fever, draw inflammation from cuts and wounds and help ease pain from sores.
Of course, Valerian has to make the list. Used since medieval times as a cure for insomnia, Valerian can also be used as a herbal infusion for a relaxing bedtime drink. Although it is rather strong and has a slightly bitter taste, its many great properties will make it worth your while.
Valerian is simply crawling with antioxidants, and can be used to battle insomnia. It is a safe, natural and strong sedative that increases your quality of sleep. It also reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
Just a word of warning, Valerian has been known to become addictive when used over long periods of time. Some health care professionals also warn that this might interfere with other sleep medications or supplements prescribed by your doctor. Be sure to keep your intake of this tea under control, and check with your doctor before making it a regular part of your routine.
This one might be a lifesaver if you are a coffee lover. Chaga tea is brewed with chunks of mycelium harvested from birch trees. It has a warm, earthy flavour that resembles that of coffee. And the good news is that chaga tea is entirely caffeine free.
It is also brimming with healthy and beneficial antioxidants. Chaga tea is especially known for its health benefits that include the easing of an upset stomach. It will not only help you to drift off to sleep but will also boost your immune system and help you to wake up feeling healthy and refreshed.
This quirky and flavourful brew is simply made from dried and crushed peppermint leaves. If you don’t have dried peppermint on hand, you can even make your own peppermint tea from scratch by simply adding fresh peppermint leaves to hot water. This herbal tea is completely caffeine free
Peppermint is known as a muscle relaxant, and is often used in sports or muscle gel. This of course, helps you sleep. However, peppermint has also been used to relieve headaches and stomach pain. It is excellent for relieving tension. If you suffer from anxiety or stress related aches you should seriously consider adding some peppermint tea to your arsenal.
This aromatic tea is great for people suffering from anxiety. If you struggle with obsessive thoughts or other anxiety related problems, this herbal tea might be a great option. Passionflower has many calming properties and ingredients that have anti-anxiety calming effects. Usually combined with other relaxing herbs, passionflower can be a great addition to your bedtime routine.
Research has been done on passionflowers, and the researchers believe that it contains a certain chemical that helps your nervous system to relax and feel tired.
That’s it folks!