I Tried 4 Different Teas to Help Me Sleep and Here’s What Happened
I don’t normally suffer from insomnia, but when the holidays roll around, all bets are off for a good night’s sleep. Throughout November and December, I toss and turn at night, fretting about the thousand things on my to-do list. Will I be able to make all the food I’m supposed to supply for parties and gatherings? Will it actually turn out appetizing? Will I get all the gifts purchased and wrapped? Will my mother-in-law like what I got her?
Sometimes during this season of hustle and bustle, I need something to help me rest easier. But since my insomnia isn’t chronic, and because I prefer to try a natural approach to health issues when possible, sleep-promoting teas have been a useful tool for me in the past. However, I’ve only ever tried one variety. And with all the teas on the market for sleep support (and there are many), I wondered if something besides my usual go-to could set me drifting off to dreamland even better.
This holiday season, I decided to try some other options to explore their palatability and — more importantly — their effectiveness for helping me fall and stay asleep. During a week with no out-of-the-ordinary stressors that might give me extra insomnia, I worked my way through four commonly available sleep teas. Here’s what happened.
1. Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra: To start my grand experiment, I dove in with a tea whose name makes it sound like the king of sleep aids: Sleepytime Extra. Celestial Seasonings makes a variety of “Sleepytime” teas, including Sleepytime Classic, Sleepytime Honey, and Sleepytime Lavender, but I wanted the top-of-the-line stuff. (Not. Messing. Around.) According to the packaging, what makes this tea “extra” is its content of valerian, an herb known for promoting sleep.
Shortly before bed, I busted out the teddy-bear-adorned box and brewed a cup. As I sipped, I was struck by its surprisingly bitter taste. Having tried products with valerian in them before, I’m familiar with the telltale flavor of this herb, but in this tea, it overpowered any other taste. Still, I finished my whole mug and turned in to bed.
Unfortunately, even after the Sleepytime Extra, I still had trouble falling asleep. Once I did nod off, I didn’t experience any nighttime waking, but come morning, I felt unusually groggy and found getting out of bed extra tough. (No, it was not a Monday.) Apparently, this sluggishness is not uncommon after ingesting valerian. But since my goal is better sleep without side effects, Sleepytime Extra was not my fave.
2. Lipton Bedtime Bliss: After my first tea’s less-than-delicious taste, I hoped my next night would bring a more appealing flavor. In this respect, Lipton’s Bedtime Bliss did not disappoint. With a citrusy, minty zing, it tasted like a tea I might choose to drink any time, not just to combat insomnia. I had no trouble finishing it as I unwound with some sitcom reruns. The only question now was whether it would live up to its marketing catchphrase and send me to sleep “like a lullaby in a cup.”
I headed to bed to find out. Like Sleepytime Extra, Bedtime Bliss didn’t seem to help me sleep any faster than normal, but once sleep came, it lasted until morning — and this time without any valerian “hangover.” Final verdict: A tasty tea, and possibly helpful for keeping me asleep, but not powerful.
3. Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime: Time for tea number three. Though I adore a good caramel cookie or macchiato, I suspected a caramel flavor might taste unnaturally sweet in a bedtime tea. When I brewed a cup of Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime, though, I discovered that the caramel flavor was quite pleasing — sweet enough not to need honey or sugar, but not at all cloying.
With its impressive list of ingredients, including California poppy plant, l-theanine suntheanine, and a blend of other herbs, I wondered if this tea would be the one to get sugarplums dancing in my head. And finally, my dreams were realized! I could hardly keep my eyes open as I tried to read before bed, I slept soundly all night, and I woke feeling refreshed. It turns out that the California poppy is known for its sedative effects for both insomnia and anxiety — good to know!
4. Bigelow Benefits Sleep: Last on my list of sleep teas was Bigelow’s chamomile and lavender blend, named simply (and aptly) “Sleep.” A basic herbal blend, this one tasted to me like any standard soothing chamomile. Sipping it pre-bedtime, I definitely felt calm — but not necessarily sleepy. I got into bed and waited for sleep to come… and waited… and waited. To be honest, it was a rough night of the usual insomnia, with fitful waking and mostly surface-level, rather than deep, sleep.
Tellingly, Bigelow’s “Sleep” doesn’t provide a Supplement Facts panel on its packaging, leading me to believe that its benefits are less clinical-grade than some other teas. For my money, this one may have induced some relaxation, but not necessarily sleep.
While Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime gets my vote for the most effective (and tastiest) of the teas I tried, everyone responds a little differently to the ingredients in dietary supplements. This holiday season — or any time you experience acute insomnia — try some experimenting of your own to see if a sleep-promoting tea works for you.
Have you tried a tea to help you sleep? Tweet us at @BritandCo.
(Featured photo via Getty; tea photos via Sarah Garone)
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Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com