July 22, 2018

Wide Awake? Can't Sleep?

Overwhelmed with responsibilities, stressed, worried about past or future events? You are not alone. Sleeplessness is a global epidemic. 

First question to ask is "what is insomnia" and "do I have it?"

Insomnia is defined as having trouble falling or staying asleep, or early morning awakening for a minimum of 3 nights per week in the previous month. In Canada, 40% of Canadians reported having at least 1 symptom of insomnia. [1].

According to the American Sleep Association, 30% of American adults also reported having short-term insomnia which can translate to unintentionally falling asleep during the day. An event an estimated 37.9% of American adults reported happening at least 1 day in the preceding 30 days [2].

Dark haired guy asleep in a chair with book on face

How much sleep do I need?

According to the American Sleep Association, adults need 7-9 hrs and teenagers require 8-10 hrs. So how do we get to sleep and stay asleep...

Can drinking tea help me sleep?

By increasing or modifying specific neurotransmitters involved in initiating sleep, herbal teas containing Chamomile can be helpful.

Why is Chamomile Tea so popular as a sleep-aid?  

  • With over 1 million cups consumed per day, Chamomile is one of the most popular teas in the world. It is also one of the oldest and most widely used medicinal plants in the world.
  • It is a powerhouse for our health! Approximately 120 secondary metabolites have been identified in chamomile, including 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoids [3]
  • Relating to sleep, it has been used extensively as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, insomnia and other sleep problems. [4]

How does Chamomile work?

One of the most effective bio-active ingredients in Chamomile is an antioxidant (flavonoid) called apigenin. It is thought that by binding to specific receptors in your brain, apigenin may decrease anxiety and help initiate sleep. [5]  Chamomile may also improve the overall quality of your sleep.

The power of night-time tea however, comes when paired with a sleep-friendly bedtime routine. Night-time teas with mild sedative properties can be very helpful.  

How to fall asleep fast ~ 5 tips 

  1. Have a bedtime routine that gives you at least 30 minutes of relaxation time before bed.
    1. Dim the lights, read a book [drink tea]
  2. Disconnect from any screens, including laptops, phones, tablets….
    1. Screen light can keep the brain alert and discourage relaxation
  3. Calm your mind by doing a breathing or relaxation exercise.
  4. If you are unable to sleep, don’t lie awake in bed for hours. Get up and do something relaxing and then try to return to bed after 30 min. Train yourself to think of your bed as a place for sleep.
  5. Try to create a routine of waking up at the same time each day, even if you are tired. Your body will be more apt to fall asleep at the regular time the next night. [6]

If insomnia persists please seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional. Chamomile is listed on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list.


  1. Morin, C. M., LeBlanc, M., Bélanger, L., Ivers, H., Mérette, C., & Savard, J. (2011). Prevalence of insomnia and its treatment in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry56(9), 540-548.
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm6008.pdf
  3. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.) Phytother Res. 2000;20:519–530.
  4. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med. 1980;40:309–319. 
  5. Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Molecular medicine reports3(6), 895-901.
  6. https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-do-when-you-cant-sleep

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