Friday, January 15, 2021

Sleep reali-tea

Yesterday was a much better day than I’ve had lately, and I owe that to chamomile tea.

I’d been feeling like crap for a week, give or take—extremely tired, depressed, unable to motivate myself to do much of anything. As it happens, I’d been having trouble with sleeping, too: Sometimes it would take me an hour or so to fall asleep or I’d wake up for an hour or so. I’d also sometimes jolt awake and/or feel anxious.

I’d been monitoring my blood pressure and heart rhythm anyway, and all have been normal. Also, I don’t consume caffeine after around 4pm, sometimes much earlier than that. So, I thought it might be the prescriptions I’m still on (they won’t be reviewed for maybe a couple months). Then it hit me: What if my lack of good sleep was the problem and not a symptom?

I remembered how when I had sleep trouble in the past I used to have a cup or two of chamomile tea before going to bed, and I decided to try that on Wednesday night. Result: I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in ages.

I felt good enough yesterday to venture out to go to the supermarket, the first time I felt like leaving the house in nearly a week. While I was there I got more chamomile tea (I’m running out), and I looked at flavoured versions because, honestly, chamomile tea isn’t exactly nice. The version in the photo was lower in sodium than a similar version from an overseas brand, and that’s something I need to monitor.

I’m keenly aware that chamomile tea isn’t actually tea, but a “herbal infusion” (it must have Camellia sinensis or it’s not tea, as I mentioned in a blog post ten years ago this year). But I also know that chamomile “tea” works for me, whatever it’s properly called. I felt good yesterday because of it.

However (there’s always a “but”, isn’t there?), chamomile tea/infusion/tisane isn’t magic or perfect. Many things we consume can affect sleep, everything from stress, emotional issues, temperature of the bedroom, and also things we consume, like having too much sugar (as well as caffeine), especially too late in the day. Such stimulants can hide in unexpected places, so it’s actually quite easy to have “too much”.

All of which means that chamomile can’t fix everything. Still, it’s worth trying, and is definitely a healthier option than alcohol—especially because alcohol can disrupt normal sleep patterns, possibly causing a bad night’s sleep.

Last night I had my two cups of chamomile—and had a terrible night’s sleep. I think I had too much sugar too late in the day (I may, quite possibly, have bought some particularly yummy soft chocolate chip cookies at the grocery store; I can neither confirm nor deny that). This underscores what I’m saying: A chamomile hot beverage may help with sleep, and, in fact it often does for me. However, there are so many things that affect sleep that it’s unreasonable to expect any one thing to “fix” any problems. My experience provides examples of both why that is, as well as how chamomile can sometimes help. Your results may vary.

Still, anything that helps, even if only sometimes, is a good thing, provided it does no harm. I’m going to keep using it, and it’ll help—sometimes, anyway. I’ll drink to that!

I bought the tea at normal retail prices—I wasn’t compensated in any way for including that particular brand of flavoured chamomile herbal infusion in the photo above—I just wanted a reason to take a selfie. This post is a revised, expanded, and updated version of something I posted to my personal Facebook

This post has been updated. Follow the link to see the update.


Roger Owen Green said...

Thank you, Dr. Arthur, for your scientific explanation of teas and "teas".

Arthur Schenck said...

Right? It's so easy to become muddled, rather like a bad cup of tea, or perhaps a particularly bad infusion.