Can’t Sleep? Try This Lemon Balm Tea

We’ve all been there — between work and your personal life, stress levels begin to soar, leading to restless nights. If you can relate, perhaps you’ve already spoken to your doctor. If you’re sick of tossing and turning, not being able to put your mind to rest, there’s a simple remedy you can try.

If you do visit your doctor, you may be prescribed a few pills that will address any sleeping issues you’re currently experiencing. Considering approximately four percent of American adults over the age of 20 used prescription sleeping pills between 2005 and 2010, it’s safe to say that they’re being overprescribed. With increased use, patients are now dealing with adverse effects, including addiction.

A treatment is supposed to heal you — not make you worse.

On a positive note, we can look to nature instead. After all, most drugs are created based on the medicinal properties of plants. Botanicals offer alternative remedies that reduce symptoms, while promoting overall health — sounds good, right?

Lemon balm to the rescue


I love my little bushy patch of lemon balm — it’s so healthy and convenient. I purchased a small plant for just $2 at my local farmer’s market. It will provide fresh lemon balm all summer and fall — not a bad trade. Luckily, I don’t suffer from sleep issues — knock on wood — but I do like to look after myself, so I often add lemon balm to my five to six daily cups of green tea.

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Although lemon balm is known to treat a range of ailments, including menstrual pain and indigestion, it’s best known for its relaxing and sedative properties. Used by the Greeks nearly 2,000 years ago to treat sleep issues and symptoms of anxiety, lemon balm continues to be a prized possession for optimal health.

One 2011 study, published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, examined the ability of lemon balm extract to treat both anxiety and insomnia. Within the 15-day study, volunteers suffering from anxiety and sleep disturbances were given lemon balm extract.

Researchers found that when a lemon balm extract was administered, 95 percent of participants responded — 70 percent experienced full remission for anxiety; 85 percent for insomnia; and 70 percent for both. This study, as well as a number of other studies, clearly show that lemon balm has a stress-relieving effect.

Make your own lemon balm tea


Whether you’re a little too wound up at the end of the week, want to relieve pain, reduce bloating or aim to sleep better, the regular consumption of lemon balm tea can help. It’s a good idea to invest in a lemon balm plant, regardless of the amount of space you have — it will grow on a deck, balcony and even thrive on your windowsill.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 small handfuls of fresh lemon balm leaves (I use around 10–12 leaves, plus stems)
  • 1/2 tbsp dried hops — resin in hops has been shown to increase GABA levels — relaxing the central nervous system and promoting sleep.
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Optional — slices of ginger and/or a lemon wedge

What to do:

1. To make this tea quickly and easily, simply pour hot water over the fresh lemon balm leaves and hops.

2. When pouring hot water onto your leaves, it’s important that you cover your mug — allowing the leaves and dried hop buds to steep for 15 minutes or so. Covering the tea prevents the beneficial essential oils from escaping.

3. Drink 1–2 cups an hour before you go to bed.

Sweet dreams!

—Krista Hillis

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