Is Earl Grey Tea Good for Sleep?

We all know that caffeine and sleep don’t mix.

But does that mean you shouldn’t drink Earl Grey tea before bed?

Not necessarily. 

Let’s take a look at the sleep benefits of Earl Grey tea.

Sleeping Cat
Bertie (my cat) taking a well-earned nap after a day of sniffing Earl Grey tea.

Table of Contents

Will the Caffeine in Earl Grey Keep Me Awake?

Before we get started, let’s address the elephant in the room – Earl Grey tea contains caffeine! 

But is it enough to stop you from falling asleep? 

Research shows that consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime can negatively impact sleep quality.

So if you’re highly sensitive to caffeine, a cup of Earl Grey tea at night can potentially keep you awake.

But this won’t be the same for everyone.

As part of the study, participants ingested 400mg of caffeine 0, 3, and 6 hours before bed.

Earl Grey tea has around 40 to 120 milligrams of caffeine per 230ml (8oz) cup. 

That’s significantly lower (10 times less) than the dosage in the study. And the research focuses on the caffeine in coffee, not tea.

Caffeine Naps – Does Caffeine Actually Benefit Sleep?

We’ve all been there. It’s after midday and you’re already lagging. 

Do you take a quick power nap? Drink something caffeinated? Or, both? 

Evidence suggests that drinking coffee or tea just before a short nap (15-20 mins) can actually benefit you. 

So how does it work?

When we get sleepy, our bodies produce a chemical called adenosine (a chemical that promotes sleep). Once asleep, our adenosine levels naturally lessen. 

While caffeine won’t reduce your adenosine levels (like sleep does), it helps block your brain from receiving it. As a result, you’ll feel less tired.

This combination of reduced adenosine (from sleep) and caffeine provides a supercharged energy boost. 

Just make sure you don’t nap for too long! 

After 30 minutes, your body starts to go into deep, slow wave sleep (SWS). Awakening during SWS may lead to sleep inertia. And that’s the opposite of what you want.

Caffeine in Black Tea Versus Caffeine in Coffee

On average, coffee contains more than double the caffeine of black tea. 

And while both drinks contain the same energy-boosting stimulant, they affect the body differently. 

But that doesn’t mean Earl Grey tea is any less beneficial.

This study found that drinking tea was just as good at keeping you alert as coffee – even with the lower caffeine content.

What’s more, researchers found that drinking a cup of tea was less likely to disrupt sleep compared to coffee.

And that’s largely down to the L-theanine in black tea.

L-theanine For Sleep

Black tea is full of L-theanine. This amino acid improves stress, mood, focus, memory, and (you guessed it) sleep. 

That means drinking Earl Grey tea throughout the day might benefit sleep. 

In fact, this 10-week study revealed that those given L-theanine (450-900 mg) reported better sleep satisfaction than participants taking a placebo.

And when combined with caffeine, L-theanine provides a stable energy boost. Along with increased focus.

Best of all, this L-theanine and caffeine combo won’t give you the jitters – unlike coffee.

Does the Type of Tea Make a Difference?

Traditionally, Earl Grey contains black tea. 

But sometimes, teamakers use green tea, tisane or a combination of different black teas.

Common black teas used in Earl Grey include:

  • Keemun
  • Ceylons
  • Assam
  • Darjeeling
  • Kenyan
  • Nilgiri

While these are all from the same Camellia Sinensis plant, the caffeine levels will vary

Likewise, an Earl Grey with green tea has less caffeine than one with black tea.

In addition to the tea type. There are certain factors which will affect the amount of caffeine in your cup.

This includes:

  • Tea Origins
  • Processing Technique
  • Tea Leaf Age
  • Tea Amount

So the next time you decide to pop the kettle on, don’t forget to consider the above.

Is the Bergamot in Earl Grey Good For Sleep?

Bergamot is a key ingredient in Earl Grey tea. And it has numerous health benefits.

This includes:

  • Pain Relief
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Anti-Depressant
  • Fights Food Poisoning
  • Digestion Aid
  • Hair Treatment
  • Acne Remedy
  • Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
  • Mood Enhancer

Grown in Reggio Di Calabria (Italy), bergamot has a unique flavour.

And when added to black tea, bergamot creates the classic Earl Grey taste that we all know and love. 

Not only does bergamot have antidepressant qualities, but it can also stimulate hormone secretion.

As a result, bergamot-flavoured tea (like Earl Grey) can help to maintain proper metabolic rates. And, when your inner metabolism is balanced, so is your sleep.

No wonder bergamot oil is widely used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

But that’s not all! 

The flavonoids in bergamot can also reduce pain, relieve cramps, and ease muscle contractions. 

That makes Earl Grey tea ideal for pain-induced sleepless nights.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea Before Sleep

Lavender is renowned for its therapeutic, relaxation, and sedative properties. 

Because of this, it’s often used in aromatherapy to treat stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders (e.g. insomnia).

So if you have trouble getting to sleep at night, a soothing lavender-infused Earl Grey could be the answer.

Not convinced? A study found that exposure to a lavender aroma before bed improved sleep quality. Participants also reported feeling less sleepy upon awakening. 

In addition to smelling nice, this edible herb has a long list of health benefits. And not just for sleep.

Other health benefits include:

  • Eye Health (Vitamin A)
  • Stronger Bones (Calcium)
  • Blood Health (Iron)
  • Digestion
  • Stress Reduction
  • Mood Enhancer
  • Relieves Period Pain

Combine calming lavender with nutrient-rich bergamot and the aroma can increase the time you spend in deep, slow-wave sleep. Plus it adds a delightful floral dimension to the blend.

But it still contains caffeine.

Caffeine-Free Earl Grey Substitutes

For Earl Grey lovers who aren’t convinced, a caffeine-free alternative is an excellent option. 

And luckily, there’s a growing range of caffeine-free Earl Grey blends to choose from.

Decaffeinated Earl Grey Tea

While decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free, it does contain less than a standard cup of Earl Grey tea.

And according to this study, a cup of decaffeinated Earl Grey ranges from 1-12 milligrams of caffeine per 230ml (8oz) cup.

The main benefit of decaf is that you can reduce your caffeine content without compromising on the classic Earl Grey taste.

Rooibos Earl Grey Tea

Native to South Africa, Rooibos is known for its soothing properties. As a result, it’s often given to children with colic to help them fall asleep. 

A herbal tea, it’s naturally caffeine-free. While the sweet, nutty, and woody flavour goes perfectly with the bergamot in Earl Grey.

Rooibos is also full to the brim with magnesium and calcium. These two minerals play a role in a good night’s sleep. One of the ways they do this is by regulating the melatonin (a sleep hormone) in your body.

Honeybush Earl Grey Tea

Honeybush (also from South Africa) is another natural sleep aid.

Unlike other herbal teas, Honeybush is oxidised rather than dried. The result is a sweeter tasting tea without any bitterness. 

It’s naturally high in antioxidants and low in tannins. For this reason, it has a positive effect on heart health, weight loss, and reducing stress.

Oh, and it’s also 100% free from caffeine.

What else do you need before bedtime?

Chamomile Earl Grey Tea

We all know that Chamomile is good for helping you sleep. But why?

Chamomile contains apigenin. This flavonoid induces muscle relaxation and, most importantly, sleep.

In fact, this study found that participants that drank Chamomile tea before bed fell asleep quicker.

And when mixed with bergamot, the scent can be a sleep-inducing relaxant.

Should You Drink Earl Grey Tea Before Bed?

While a full-bodied Earl Grey might not be suitable for everyone, herbal Earl Grey comes with its own benefits. Some of which can make drinkers fall into a deeper, more peaceful sleep.

All you have to do is find the perfect blend for you.

Just make sure you don’t drink too much Earl Grey before bedtime! Or, your bladder will be the new source of all your problems.