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Does Drinking Chai Help Improve Sleep?

Updated: Mar 11

We’ve all been there, lying in bed long after you wanted to be asleep and your mind is racing with 101 thoughts. I like to call this time, “The post-caffeine regret”.

 

But, when it comes to chai, does this incredibly delicious and aromatic drink fall into the “avoid after 6 p.m.” advice? Read on and you might just be adding chai to your night-time routine!


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Does Chai contain caffeine?

 

A box of chai with a cup and chai tea bag in it.

Masala Chai, if made with black tea, will contain some level of caffeine. However, due to the addition of spices to the tea, the level of caffeine is generally lower than a cup of regular black tea.


Chai only contains about 30-50% of the tea compared to regular tea, which is about 15-25mg of caffeine (per 8oz cup) compared to standard black tea (35-50mg per 8oz cup).

 

One thing that is important to note is that it is really difficult to know the exact amount of caffeine without testing each cup. This is because even the same brand of chai will fluctuate the amount of caffeine it contains depending on when and where the leaf is harvested. But the difference will be minimal.

 

So, what are the benefits of drinking chai before bed? 


Five Benefits of drinking chai before bed:

 


1. Promotes Relaxation:

 

I should start this point by saying that I cannot drink chai lattes during the day or I will be out for the count. I only have to smell a warmly spiced chai oat latte and I am already mentally preparing myself for a nap.

 

Chai contains several ingredients known for their calming properties, such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. These spices have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Drinking chai before bed can help relax both the body and mind, creating an ideal routine for a good night’s sleep.

 

These spices aren’t the only ingredients in chai that help promote relaxation. The other is an amino acid that is in tea, called L-theanine. While there is more L-theanine in green tea, there is still enough in black tea-based chai to have some potentially noteworthy benefits. L-theanine has been shown to aid with relaxation while not causing drowsiness [1]. This allows for a more restful sleep cycle, leaving you feeling refreshed and renewed in the morning.

 

A mug of chai being held by two hands

2. Supports Digestive Health:

 

Some spices which can be found in chai, such as ginger and fennel, have been associated with improved digestion [2]. Ginger in particular is rich in phenolic compounds which have been shown to aid in digestion.

 

Drinking chai after a meal can alleviate discomfort such as bloating or indigestion, and we all know a happy tummy makes a big difference!

 

So, if you find that your digestive system isn’t quite as healthy as it could be, chai may be a great option for you. One thing I would suggest is that if your preference is for chai lattes, it might be worth using oat or another milk alternative.

 

A 2017 study [3] found that 65-70% of the population suffers from some form of lactose/milk intolerance. Trying your chai without milk may in itself make a big difference to your digestive system.

 

3. Enhances Sleep Quality:

 

It is no secret that when it comes time to sleep, many people report thoughts racing through their minds, worry about an event which happened during the day or any multitude of restful sleep destroying things.

 

It may appear to be a little counterintuitive that a drink containing caffeine would enhance sleep quality, but the evidence seems to back this up, not to mention our own anecdotal experience of hearing customers' feedback.

 

As mentioned above, L-theanine plays a big role in this benefit and as it aids with relaxation and stress reduction, this therefore has the knock-on effect of a better night’s sleep. Going to bed in a relaxed state has the benefit of allowing your mind to begin the wind-down process. This is why we recommend having a chai an hour or two before bed as part of your evening routine.

 

4. Provides Antioxidant Benefits:

 

Chai is rich in antioxidants! Antioxidants are like the body’s own personal security team. They keep us safe from free radicals (molecules which can cause damage to your body’s cells).

 

Thanks to ingredients like black tea, cinnamon and cloves, antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in the body, which can contribute to various health issues. By consuming chai regularly, especially before bed, you can give a helping hand to your body.



Aesthetic Chai mugs beside loose leaf chai

 

5. Warms the Body

 

This one is purely for those who go to bed with woolly socks and wrapped in 3 blankets.

 

There is a reason that chai is a winter favourite for so many. It screams cosy autumnal vibes and open fires on wet, rainy days. But, it is also a great option for actually warming your body.

 

Due to the spices in chai such as cinnamon, black peppercorn and ginger, drinking chai will give you that chest-warming feeling that you need to fight back the colder days. My favourite ingredient in chai is ginger for this very reason. I love the sensation of heat rising in my chest after drinking a mouthful of fresh chai.

 

If you are feeling adventurous, why not try adding extra ginger (about a 1-2cm chunk per person) to your chai for a little extra warmth.

 

Top Tip: This is can only really achieved by drinking real, whole-ingredient chai as powder and syrup chai often don’t have real ingredients but artificial flavourings. Trying real, loose-leaf chai will only confirm that for you.

 

So, will drinking chai keep me awake at night?

 

Enjoying a cup of chai before bed, for the vast majority of people won’t harm their sleep. The low amount of caffeine and the numerous benefits associated with chai are a great combination for a restful night’s sleep.

 

Incorporating chai into your evening routine, allowing your mind to prepare itself for sleep, can be a great way to get a better night’s rest. Why not try having a cup of chai before bed and see how you find it?

 

But please remember, everyone is different and for those who are more caffeine-sensitive, drinking chai before bed may not be helpful for you. Listen to your own body and respond as necessary.


Herbal chai in glass jar and brewed in cup with tea bag

Below are a few of my top tips for those wanting to opt for a caffeine-free chai.


Chai blends designed for those avoiding caffeine

 

  • If you normally get jittery from caffeine, you may be better suited to a herbal chai. Herbal chai often uses either decaffeinated tea or herbal tea. Herbal teas are those which don’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant. For example, rooibos, yerba mate and chamomile are all popular herbal tea bases used in some chai. I prefer rooibos in herbal chai as the flavours work brilliantly. (It is also excellent when served ice cold in the summer).

 

  • Herbal chai boasts many of the same health benefits as regular, black tea-based chai, but without the caffeine. If this sounds like it is more up your street, why not check out our own Herbal Sticky Chai here.

 

  • If you want to try a black tea-based chai (check out our range here) because of the listed health benefits above but still feel a little worried about the caffeine, this tip is for you:

 

Reducing the steeping time of your chai will reduce the amount of caffeine in your cup. Try playing about with the blend to see what you think, and if you enjoy the flavour when steeped for less than the normal recommended time, then this could be a winner for you.


Please leave a comment if you have any tips or ways that chai helps (or hinders) your sleep routine.


Sources:

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ANDREW MCGUIRE

CHALA FOUNDER & CHAI EDUCATOR

Hello there!

If you want to learn more about chai, you have come to the right place!

 

With chai continuing to grow in popularity, there are lots of questions to be answered.

In my blog posts, I answer the questions that I receive daily from customers and those who come across Chala at markets or online.

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