Y’know, I’m encountering more and more people who are relatively attached to their nightly glass of wine. So much so, that it’s become a unique sort of habit.
I get it, truly – if you feel like the wine helps you “calm down” and “sleep better,” then you’re going to have a hard time detaching yourself from it come evening time.
Before I can get to the switch, the questions need to be asked: why can’t you wind yourself down without the wine? High-stakes, stressful job? Believe me, I understand that, too. But if the goal is to be as healthy as possible – mentally as well as physically – then finding coping mechanisms that are just as intense and powerful as the stressors are ideal. In other words, if you’re a partner at a powerful firm or a teacher of a particularly unruly class, you might need to take up boxing after work or something. Maybe the impact of your fists against the punching bag, followed by a nice hot shower or sauna session will help you relax.
If you have difficulty with sleeping, there’s usually two main culprits* – too much sugar (or processed food in general) before bedtime, or too much anxiety. Really, the anxiety can lead you to the “too much sugar” part just because so many people manage their anxiety by making themselves feel better with a sugary treat before bed… but it affects your sleep in a negative way.
Remember this blog post where people, weirdly enough, focused less on the fact that their ice cream was not, in fact, ice cream… but more on the fact that certain kinds of “dairy desserts” gave them nightmares? Big contributor. And, if you have a bedtime “treat” that’s super sugary and hyper-processed? You might even have a more difficult time.
That’s…where chamomile comes in.
Oftentimes available at local farmer’s markets and large grocery stores, definitely available at your local tea shop (if you’re lucky enough to have one,) chamomile is a blessing. The benefits are all over the place – everything from anxiety relief to antibacterial properties (sometimes even reducing the bacteria that cause underarm odor!) to naturally managing PMS symptoms.
Not even lying, I keep my bag of dried chamomile tea on my desk. Because, well, reasons.
Make no mistake about it, the goal should be to develop the ability to calm down without assistance, but if that’s not possible, then what? Then, you work on it. Developing healthy coping mechanisms always take time, which is what makes the chamomile so valuable. The immediate issue is that the “bedtime wind down treat” is caloric – the tea, even with a little honey, is nowhere near the same. It’s lower calorie, infinitely healthier, and much more fun.
Teas are ritualistic and mindful – you have to prepare your tea strainer, prepare your water, get your squeeze-ins or stir-ins ready, sit down and sip slowly. For me, there are very few things that I enjoy more than making myself a cup of tea, turning on some music, propping my feet up, and locking my family out of the house.
Kidding. (Sorta. The puppies can stay.)
There are also blends on the market that mix chamomile, lavender, and jasmine together as a tea blend of their own, for the TKO. I will tell you, though – for the first time, test it out on a night that leads into an off day at work, where you don’t have any responsibilities in the morning. I find that people need to test the strength of their teas before using it on a work night, specifically if you’re using loose chamomile.
The tea is strong. I prefer to use loose teas for my chamomile because, for one, it’s cheaper and two, I can control the strength of the tea. Maybe I only want a little relaxation, so I might mix a little bit of chamomile with a peach and ginger tea. Or, maybe I’ll make a strong blend of chamomile tea, freeze it into ice cubes, and drop a cube in my water for the day. You could even make a giant pot of it while using a large tea strainer, refrigerate it, and mix it with seltzer water for a chamomile soda.
The current chamomile blend I have – chamomile, lavender, jasmine, and more – is actually called the Naptown Snoozer from a company called Humboldt County Tea Company. An ounce should make a good 12-15 servings of super-strong tea, if you use the recommended two teaspoons for every 12oz cup.
Trust me, you’re sleepin’ on chamomile. I’m serious – this stuff is a dream. (As in… sweet dreams? Get it? Okay. I’m done.)
*Of course, there are many culprits, but of the people I work with these are the most common. Consult with your doctor if you sincerely struggle with sleep.