Herbal Tea Sleep Study

November 16, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

A common criticism of conventional medicine is that it’s too clinical. Some patients feel like they’re simply cogs in a massive medical machine that needs repair. This is one of the unintended consequences of relying too heavily on the cold, hard facts provided by science alone. On the other hand, alternative medicine can sometimes go too far in the other direction, allowing emotions to run the show. Several years ago I attended a conference in which the famed cancer patient advocate Dr. Bernie Siegel gave a presentation. He emphasized the importance of considering every available treatment option and understanding the reality of one’s condition. But he balanced that advice by adding this, “Statistics do not apply to individuals and there is no false hope”.

When I was compiling research for today’s blog, I began to pull studies that evidenced the many hazards of sleep deprivation. Normally, I would cite those scientific trials at the end of the paragraphs that make up my column. But two things happened recently that shaped how I’m writing today’s particular entry. I discovered some coverage about SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. One of the presentations there caught my eye. It was entitled, “Sleep Disturbance and Daily Relationship Quality in Couples: Evidence for Bidirectional Associations”.

A bidirectional association is basically a chicken and egg kind of circumstance. If a couple isn’t getting along, it negatively affects their sleep quality. However it’s also true that poor sleep, no matter what the cause, is damaging to relationships. But here’s where it gets more interesting and specific.

  • Women’s sleep tends to suffer the most if daytime interaction with their mate is stressful or unfulfilling.
  • Men who sleep soundly at night rate their relationship as more positive during the day.

Scientists learned about this pattern by examining the sleep diaries of 29 couples over the course of one week. On 6 separate occasions during each day, the men and women independently rated the quality of their interactions with their partners. (1)

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Brant Hasler of the University of Arizona, commented that “In this cycle, conflict with one’s partner during the day leads to worse sleep that night, which leads to more conflict the following day. Although these results are preliminary due to the relatively small sample size and a subjective measure of sleep quality, the woman’s perception of the relationship seems particularly important, as it impacts both her own and her partner’s subjective sleep quality that night.”

The scientists behind this pilot study suggest that couples work out their problems prior to retiring at night, which is in line with the traditional axiom “never go to bed angry”. But beyond that, it’s important that both men and women understand that arguments or negativity expressed the day following a poor night’s sleep may be tainted by sleep deprivation.

Percentage of Adults in the US With Inadequate Rest or Sleep in 2008
Source: CDC October 30, 2009 / 58(42);1175-1179 (link)

In addition to the suggestions made by Dr. Hasler and his colleagues, I want to offer one other possible aid to individuals and couples. I’ve decided to put together a very basic study that will evaluate the efficacy of a natural herbal tea on sleep quality. To do this, I’m teaming up with Kroeger Herbs. I’d like to test how well their SLP tea works in a group of 6 people who have difficulty sleeping well on a consistent basis. The details of this open-label trial is as follows:

  • I’m asking for 5 readers who would be willing to use an all-natural herbal tea before bedtime for a period of 2 weeks.
  • It’s important to point out that this herbal aid is not intended to be taken along with other sleep medication. Therefore, I need to find individuals (or couples) that do not already use synthetic sleep medications.
  • The tea contains a blend of hops flowers, lemon balm leaves, linden flowers, orange flowers and poppy flowers.
  • I’ll send you the tea, free of charge, and provide you with a copy of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) – a questionnaire/rating scale.
  • You’ll complete the PSQI and e-mail me the results. Then, you’ll repeat this same step after having used the SLP tea for 14 consecutive days.
  • Once I’ve collected all the data, I’ll put together a column about the specific details of the product and the results reported by our study volunteers.

All of the participants will be completely anonymous to everyone except for myself. No names or personal information will posted or otherwise shared with anyone. In addition, I will be the 6th participant in this study. My sleep quality could be better and I would certainly never ask you all to use something that I wouldn’t personally try myself.

The complementary tea is provided by Kroeger Herbs. A representative recently contacted me and inquired about doing a product review. I thought that doing this experiment might be a more interesting option for everyone involved. In fact, I’d like to do more of these types of mini-studies in the future. I think this is an opportunity to safely share potentially valuable information and at the same time offering up a more interactive experience.

I want to make it 100% clear that I’m not receiving any gift or payment with regard to this experiment. I’m certainly hopeful that the findings of the trial will be positive, but the results will speak for themselves. The only way this sort of research can be of any value is if everyone involved provides an entirely truthful account of their own experience. That’s what I’ll do and that’s what I’m asking of everyone else.

If any of you are interested in taking part in this experiment, please e-mail me directly. I urge you not to leave your e-mail address or any other contact information in the comment section at the bottom of this column. I have no idea how many people will respond to this offer. If I happen to receive responses from more than 5 readers, I’ll try to include all the extra volunteers in other upcoming trials. I’m looking forward to hearing from some of you and learning as much as possible from this new adventure. Who knows, we may even improve a few relationships along the way!

Be well!

JP

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements

17 Comments & Updates to “Herbal Tea Sleep Study”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    disturbed sleep is mostly the result of to much stress during the day (relationships, job etc., too much sport in the evening). at my universtiy they have a sleep laboratory (hope thats the right word for that) and the researchers found out that women tend more than men to disturbed sleep patterns when they have problems especially problems with social relationships. another thing was, that married men sleep better next to their wifes, but women often feel disturbed by their husbands because of noise or farting (yes really ;-) ) :-)

    greetings
    Nina K.

  2. anne h Says:

    Sounds very interesting!
    I would be a hard case –
    I haven’t slept well at all for two months!

  3. JP Says:

    Thanks, Nina! :)

    Us guys tend to be rather loud … especially if we’re overweight! I used to snore horribly! In fact, that was one of my main reasons for finally losing weight!

    I always love to hear your experiences and insights. Thanks for sharing them!

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Never give up hope, Anne!

    There must be a way to get you back on (a healthy) sleep cycle!

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Julia Says:

    Your article is interesting. Because my husband can’t sleep well.Thanks for sharing!

  6. JP Says:

    Thanks, Julia!

    I hope your husband finds a good solution for his troubled sleep. Perhaps something like SLP or mindfulness meditation could be helpful?

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Dr. Bill Rawls Says:

    Yes never give up hope! I suffered from severe insomnia for years, but finally discovered natural therapies that worked for me. Life can really become a blur without healthy sleep, just making it from day to day.

    I spent many months writing a health brief on insomnia for my patients, and have recently posted it on my website, fdnhhealth.com/groups/17-insomnia. It includes some resources, tips and nutraceuticals that may be helpful for improved sleep. Any specific questions, please send me an email, I am happy to help!

  8. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing that info, Bill! :)

    Glad to know you’re sleeping better these days!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Herbal tea is great for naturally getting restful sleep. Thank you for this wonderful insight!

  10. JP Says:

    You’re welcome! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Rey Herrera Herbal Says:

    Hello, I’m searching google and found your blog worth reading it. Nice post. Hope it helps. Thanks!

  12. JP Says:

    Thanks, Rey!

    Be well!

    JP

  13. BJ Says:

    Am just getting caught up on your blog….what a wealth of information you share here!

    Wondering what happened with the SLP study – are the results available or is this ongoing?

  14. JP Says:

    Thank you, BJ! :)

    The results are still ongoing. The holiday season probably wasn’t the ideal time to announce the trial. Everybody has too much going on around that time of year. Fortunately, we do have enough people participating to collect information. Now it’s just a matter of receiving and tabulating the data. I’m hoping to post the questionnaire results and my analysis in about a month or so.

    Be well!

    JP

  15. Pradip Gharpure Says:

    What a great article. It really throws light how that negative cycle of bad relationship goes on during day , night and again on next daY MORNING. It needs to be avoided in furtherance of interest of both wife and husband.

  16. JP Says:

    Thank you, Pradip. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  17. JP Says:

    Update: L-Theanine, a component of green tea, improves sleep quality …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25759004

    J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Mar 11:1-12.

    In Search of a Safe Natural Sleep Aid.

    Sleep deprivation is associated with an elevated risk of various diseases and leads to a poor quality of life and negative socioeconomic consequences. Sleep inducers such as drugs and herbal medicines may often lead to dependence and other side effects. l-Theanine (γ-glutamylethylamide), an amino acid naturally found abundant in tea leaves, has anxiolytic effects via the induction of α brain waves without additive and other side effects associated with conventional sleep inducers. Anxiolysis is required for the initiation of high-quality sleep. In this study, we review the mechanism(s), safety, and efficacy of l-theanine. Collectively, sleep studies based on an actigraph, the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) sleep inventory questionnaire, wakeup after sleep onset (WASO) and automatic nervous system (ANS) assessment, sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve activities, and a pediatric sleep questionnaire (PSQ) suggest that the administration of 200 mg of l-theanine before bed may support improved sleep quality not by sedation but through anxiolysis. Because l-theanine does not induce daytime drowsiness, it may be useful at any time of the day. The no observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) for the oral administration of l-theanine was determined to be above 2000 mg/kg bw/day. Key teaching points: Sleep deprivation-associated morbidity is an increasing public health concern posing a substantial socioeconomic burden. Chronic sleep disorders may seriously affect quality of life and may be etiological factors in a number of chronic diseases such as depression, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Most sleep inducers are sedatives and are often associated with addiction and other side effects. l-Theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness. Unlike conventional sleep inducers, l-theanine is not a sedative but promotes good quality of sleep through anxiolysis. This review suggests that l-theanine is a safe natural sleep aid.

    Be well!

    JP

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