Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial to one’s long-term health and wellbeing, and a lack thereof is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, depression, and diabetes, among others. At the same time, about one-third of the US population alone have been diagnosed with insomnia, and nearly 95% of people have had at least one episode of insomnia throughout their lifetime.
This makes insomnia by far one of the most common conditions, with millions of people suffering from it every night. And yet, insomnia is often disregarded and underestimated, and patients are left on their own with their symptoms. If you find that you don’t get enough shuteye throughout the night, many treatments, such as breathing techniques, white noise, and others are widely available for you to try.
Doctors also recommend exercising, avoiding heavy meals 2 hours before bed, staying away from TVs and other blue light screens an hour before sleep, and refraining from caffeinated beverages and alcohol in the evening. But today, let’s focus on the various beverages that can help you fall asleep. All 7 of these delicious teas, kinds of milk, juices, and smoothies have been proven experimentally to improve sleep.
It’s best to enjoy these drinks 1-2 hours before bed, to see a better effect, and avoid having to go in the middle of the night. Sleep experts also advise not to add any sweetener to these drinks, as excessively sugary drinks, too, have been shown to worsen the quality of one’s sleep.
1. Dairy Milk
Generations of parents have been offering their children a glass of soothing warm milk on a restless night. It turns out this trick may just work on adults, too, as milk has been shown to improve the quality of sleep in several small studies.
Researchers believe that a naturally-occurring ingredient in milk called tryptophan may be responsible for these beneficial effects. Tryptophan has been shown to naturally increase the levels of serotonin in the blood, the famous "happy hormone". Few people know, however, that serotonin is also a precursor of melatonin, which is essential for healthy sleep.
Thus, unless you're lactose intolerant or can't drink milk for another reason, there's no reason not to try milk as a sleep aid.
2. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is made from dried chamomile flowers (Chamomillae romanae) brewed in hot water. The tea has been known for its calming and soothing properties for millennia, and research supports the claim that chamomile is relaxing and thereby can make falling asleep and staying asleep much easier.
Researchers suggest that one specific flavonoid antioxidant called apigenin present in chamomile flowers may be responsible for the calming and anti-anxiety effects. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in the brain and has a pleasant sedative effect on the mind. The tea has a slightly sweet aroma and taste, and it can be easily prepared by brewing 1 tablespoon of dried chamomile in 1 cup (240 ml) of hot water for 10 minutes.
3. Almond Milk
If you've recently become sensitive to dairy and you've previously relied on cow's milk before bed, we have an excellent replacement for you - almond milk. Just like cow's milk, almond milk naturally contains tryptophan, as well as melatonin. In fact, almonds and almond oil have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat insomnia and studies seem to support the idea that almonds and any products made of almonds can improve sleep.
In addition to tryptophan and melatonin, almonds are also rich in magnesium, which has been suggested to help support healthy sleep cycles in humans, especially in seniors. Thus, a glass of almond milk actually makes a superior alternative to cow's milk when it comes to its sleep benefits.
4. Valerian Tea
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a plant with pink or white flowers, and both the roots and the flowers of the plant have been used as a sleeping aid in many cultures for centuries. Modern research likewise suggests that the herb may be beneficial at treating insomnia, especially in postmenopausal women.
Valerian is considered safe at relieving insomnia without upsetting the circadian rhythms, but it needs pointing out that high doses of valerian can make you feel anxious, so proceed with caution and don't drink more than one cup a day. The National Institute of Health points out that kids under the age of 3, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers should stay away from Valerian.
Valerian root tea is typically available at health food stores. To prepare the tea, steep 2-3 g (1 tsp) of dried valerian root in 1 cup (237 ml) of hot water. Let the tea brew for 10-15 minutes, strain, and enjoy warm.
5. Cherry Juice
If you're not a fan of herbal tea nor milk, but you still need some help with your sleep, try eating some fresh cherries or drinking 2 glasses of cherry juice a day. Like milk and almonds, cherries are naturally rich in both tryptophan and melatonin, with red tart cherries having the highest content of the latter.
Several studies have shown that drinking 1-2 glasses of cherry juice significantly improved participants' sleep quality and increased their melatonin levels. The most noteworthy of these studies pointed out that drinking 2 cups (480 ml) of cherry juice every day for 14 days helped adults over the age of 50 suffering from insomnia sleep 84 minutes more every night and significantly improved the quality of their sleep.
6. Lavender Tea
While many of you will be familiar with this purple aromatic flower, and you may even use lavender essential oil from time to time to calm your nerves, many people don't know that lavender can also be used in food and drinks. It seems like the calming and soothing qualities of lavender are not limited to the flower's pleasant aroma, however, and lavender tea, in particular, can actually help you feel more well-rested after sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
Although it isn't clear which ingredients in lavender are responsible for the beneficial impact, one study clearly showed a significant improvement of sleep in patients who drank lavender tea before sleep. To prepare lavender tea, simply steep 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried lavender buds in 8 oz (230 ml) of hot water for 10 minutes, then drain, and enjoy warm.
7. Banana Almond Smoothie
If you need something beefier than a cup of tea or milk in the evenings, and you want that drink both to nourish and prepare you for a good night's sleep, it doesn't get any better than an almond and banana smoothie. We previously detailed the various sleep benefits of and almonds an almond milk, and this recipe uses both almond milk and almond butter to double up on the almond goodness and make the smoothie creamier and more filling.
The third ingredient in this recipe is the humble banana, a fruit that's likewise very rich in melatonin, magnesium, and tryptophan. In addition to that, bananas are an adequate source of dietary potassium, which is known to have a relaxing effect on the body and can ease falling asleep after a stressful day.
To prepare this super easy smoothie, simply blend together 1 fresh or frozen banana, 1 cup of almond milk, and 1 tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter until smooth and enjoy. Make sure to wait for at least 1-2 hours after drinking this smoothie before you go to bed, though, as it is quite filling.
Please share this article with people who might benefit from it