Ask a CPAP Coach: Tea remedies for sleep

Remedies are often passed down from generation to generation and can target a variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to hiccups.  Remedies for insomnia and other sleep related issues are as easy to find on the internet as a cat video.  Finding something new to try can be fun. However, be sure to always discuss any treatment changes (even natural or home remedies) with your health care provider.

Remedies for sleep related issues take many forms ranging from meditation practices and yoga exercises to aromatherapy and tea.  In an effort to better my own sleep, I recently decided to try the simple practice of having tea as a nightcap. Over the last three nights I tried a different tea recipe to evaluate its effectiveness. After reviewing many options advertised as “sleeping aids”, I narrowed my selection down to three: Creamy Turmeric Tea, Banana Tea and Cherry Tea.

Below is my personal take on each remedy. Again, in relation to your sleep health, please be sure to contact your clinician before undergoing any treatment changes.

Photo: Naama

Creamy Turmeric Tea

The Recipe:

8oz of milk. (Different recipes I found called for different milk including cow’s milk, almond or coconut. I used almond milk)
1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric
1/2 inch wide round slice of Ginger Root peeled and finely chopped
A dash of Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of honey
A Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Warm the 8oz of milk on your stove. In your mug mix the remaining ingredients. Add warm milk a little at a time mixing well as you go. Strain out ginger. Sprinkle Cinnamon on top.

Creamy Turmeric Tea is believed to remedy other ailments beyond poor sleep. Recipes for this tea claim to help with respiratory infections and sore throats as well as reduce inflammation in the body.

The warming, calming anti-inflammatory properties are this tea’s claim to better sleep. Used with cow’s milk, some believe that Tryptophan (think Thanksgiving turkey) will lull you off to sleep.  A lot of science will tell you that the tryptophan myth just isn’t true, so I went with almond milk.

My Results:

As I expected, this tea feels very rich and dessert like. I enjoyed the sweet, creamy and mildly spicy concoction. The warmth of the tea felt very calming to my senses. I could definitely see myself making this tea for company; however, for a night cap, it’s a little labor intensive.

As far as my sleep, I didn’t notice much of a difference, except that I was relaxed when I went to bed. On this note, warm water with lemon may have been just as effective.

Banana Tea

The Recipe:

1 Raw Banana
A small pot of water
Cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Boil the water. Cut both ends off of the banana and place in boiled water. Continue to boil banana in the water for 10 minutes. Pour through strainer and sprinkle cinnamon on top. This recipe was recommended 1 hour prior to bed time.

This tea’s claim to inducing sleep lies with two key vitamins naturally found in bananas. First, the magnesium from the banana supposedly keeps you from pulling yourself out of sleep. Second, the potassium is said to lull you to sleep by helping relax blood vessels and muscles.

My Results:

The tea had a nice mellow banana flavor. I’d actually like to rename this tea “Mellow Yellow” but I believe that’s already taken. Making this tea was an easier process than the Creamy Turmeric Tea, and it felt much lighter to drink.

I’ll spare you the picture, but would warn you that boiled bananas are not attractive. I also felt a little like I had wasted a banana for this tea.

Like yesterday, I didn’t feel any magical sleep inducing properties. However this tea was warm and relaxing with the added benefit of being easy to make.

Cherry Vanilla Tea

The Recipe:

5 oz of tart Cherry Juice (I made mine from concentrate)
2 drops of vanilla

Cherry juice contains melatonin, which is often cited as a sleep inducer. Melatonin is a hormone associated with the regulation of sleep and wake cycles. Cherries are known for relieving muscle pain and inflammation resulting from arthritis; so one might argue that decrease in pain and discomfort from arthritis yields better sleep.

My Results:

I saved this tea for last, because to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of tart flavors.

While I am not exactly sure this drink fits the definition of tea, it was by far the easiest to make. I was surprised to find I enjoyed its flavor. The Cherry was not as tart as I had imagined and the little bit of vanilla balanced the cherry juice well.

The Cherry Tea was the prettiest of the teas I have tried. Its bright ruby color made this tea feel special, and for me the cherry vanilla aroma was calming.

As far as a better night’s sleep, I didn’t notice any major changes. I would imagine that arthritis sufferers would need regular and consistent use to reap the benefits.

Conclusion:

There is a lot of practical reasoning as to why tea could be helpful for inducing better sleep. However, science has yet to prove the validity of these tea claims.  Whether they are old wives tales or the teas actually have properties that foster better sleep, drinking a tea could be calming – give it a try!

– CPAP Coach, Amy