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Does Chamomile Help Insomnia? (Tea, Extract, or Aromatherapy)

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Chamomile is one of the most popular natural sleeping aids.

While more research is needed, it does appear that chamomile has a positive effect on sleep quality.

I’m going to walk you through the research that shows that in this post.

The Effect of Chamomile Tea on Insomnia and Sleep Quality

A 2019 metastudy found that chamomile lacks research to show that it improves insomnia symptoms, but there’s enough to say that chamomile is safe and effective at improving sleep quality and generalized anxiety disorder (1).

Most of the studies that were reviewed by the author had subjects drink chamomile tea once per day for 2-4 weeks.

Note that once they stopped drinking tea, the sleep improvement disappeared in most cases at further follow up dates. This shows that chamomile tea doesn’t actually fix the root cause of sleep trouble, it just can temporarily reduce symptoms.

SummaryResearch suggests that drinking chamomile tea regularly is a safe way (as long as it’s not overdone) to improve sleep quality and anxiety in the short term.

Does Chamomile Extract Improve Sleep Quality?

Chamomile extract is often included in over the counter supplements with claims that it improves sleep.

The problem is that evidence is mixed on chamomile extract.

A 2017 study in elderly people had subjects take chamomile extract capsules (200 mg) twice a day for 28 consecutive days. Sleep quality improved significantly, as shown below (2):

The scores are from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), where a lower score is better.

Another study on the elderly also found that chamomile extract had a sedative effect (3).

However, another study looked at the effect of chamomile extract on patients with insomnia and found (4):

There were no significant differences between groups in changes in sleep diary measures, including total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency, sleep latency, wake after sleep onset (WASO), sleep quality, and number of awakenings

Now this study did have a relatively small sample size and used subjective measures of sleep quality, so it certainly doesn’t prove anything by itself.

However, without more research, it’s hard to say how effective chamomile extract actually is.

SummaryThere’s limited and mixed data on whether or not chamomile extract is effective at improving sleep quality. It’s possible that it helps most with certain types of sleep issues that are found more in the elderly than people in the general population with insomnia.

Can Chamomile Be Used in Aromatherapy to Improve Sleep?

Another way that chamomile can be ingested is through essential oil inhalation.

In a senior community, 183 residents were split into 3 groups: lavender oil, chamomile oil, control (5).

Three drops of 1.5% oil were used for daily for 30 nights, and they found:

Inhalation aromatherapy with both lavender and chamomile essential oils helped decrease depression, anxiety, and stress levels in community-dwelling older adults.

A lot more research is needed, but this one study does show that this method could have promising results if tea is not tolerable for some reason.

Summary: Chamomile and Insomnia

It seems safe to say that chamomile has some significant calming effect that can lead to sleep improvement.

Studies on chamomile tea and chamomile essential oil aromatherapy mostly show an improvement on sleep quality and stress levels.

More research is still needed for a stronger conclusion, especially on chamomile extract (the type you find in supplements), which has mixed evidence on efficacy.

Finally, while chamomile might play a role in improving sleep, it’s very unlikely that it will fix insomnia by itself. For that, someone with insomnia should see a doctor and be prescribed a comprehensive treatment plan.

References

  1. Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality
  2. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial
  3. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan
  4. Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia
  5. The effects of Lavender and Chamomile essential oil inhalation aromatherapy on depression, anxiety and stress in older community-dwelling people

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.