November 8, 2013

FREY: Sleepytime tea a virtual knockout


---- — It has come to my attention recently that it is becoming more and more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

My definition of getting a good night’s sleep is falling asleep and staying that way for at least eight hours, preferably more. There is no waking up in any way, shape or form.

As I age, there seems to be more distractions, all of which include keeping me awake longer and getting up earlier. Good books to read, sitting out by the fire pit, preparing Food Network recipes, and watching past episodes of that slightly dysfunctional 1960s show “Mad Men.”

I have no problem falling asleep, but staying there sometimes eludes me.

Others in the house were feeling the same way, including my 17-year-old son Charles, a year-round swimmer who also requires a lot of sleep.

In an attempt to find a cure-all for our sleep woes, I came across Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea.

Made by Celestial Seasonings, the box sports the image of a cuddly brown bear wearing a white night shirt and red stocking hat sleeping in a comfy chair next to a table with an old-fashioned radio on top. The same bear is on the box of Sleepytime Tea.

We had already consumed copious amount of Sleepytime Tea over the years, and although it relaxed us, I wouldn’t say it helped us with sleeping.

Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea, however, is advertised as an herbal supplement.

I didn’t pay attention to that part printed on the front of the box, if I saw that part at all. Actually, that bit of information would have been a good thing to acknowledge.

Within minutes after taking my last sip of Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea, I said “Good night now” to the unsuspecting members of my family sitting in the living room, and I, just like that bear wearing the night shirt, promptly fell asleep upright in my favorite chair.

It was alarming.

I do not to this day even remember getting up and going to bed.

As night fell upon us 24 hours later, I regaled my family with the wonders of Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea, and encouraged my daughter Bernadette to have a cup with me.

The next morning we both agreed we hadn’t slept that well in years.

A few days later, Charles wanted a cup before retiring for the night. “Best night’s sleep I’ve ever had,” he informed me the next morning.

What exactly are the ingredients in those tea bags? I decided to read the back of the box: “This relaxing and delicious herbal tea starts with the time-honored blend of chamomile, spearmint and other soothing herbs.”

So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

The paragraph continues, “We then add valerian, trusted as a natural sleep aid since the days of the Greeks and Romans because of its mild sedative properties.”

Sleep aid?

Sedative properties?

Since the days of the Greeks and Romans?

And then there is the word valerian, which sounds like Valium.

No wonder we were all in a zombie-like slumber, sitting upright in our chairs or laying prostrate in our beds with our eyes closed, contentedly snoozing the night away.

But alas, there is more good news.

Take heed. For those of us with sinus issues, there is menthol-infused Sleepytime Sinus Soother Tea, a handcrafted blend of time-honored herbs featuring tulsi, trusted for centuries to promote respiratory comfort, and stinging nettle, traditionally used when mild congestion occurs.

Oh happy day!

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at