When it’s late at night and you just can’t get to sleep what do you do? Well, many of us head for the kitchen, open the cupboard, and try to remember what Grandma would have advised us to do. Thankfully, Grandmothers everywhere have passed down recipes for drinks that can help us to settle into slumber. Note the ingredients so that you can have them on hand the next time you’re trolling the pantry at midnight!
One drink you definitely want to avoid is alcohol. While it is true that alcohol makes you relax, it disrupts your normal sleep cycle and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, opt for some of these beverages with natural ingredients to help you get the deep sleep you need. It’s best to have these drinks thirty minutes to one hour before bedtime so you avoid waking up to go to the bathroom.
Cherry Juice Chaser
Tart cherry juice is loaded with an amino acid that helps the brain’s pineal gland produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. You don’t need a lot of it, just ½ to 1 cup will do. As an option, add 1-2 drops of vanilla extract for a sweeter flavor and a little extra boost in relaxation benefits.
Herbal teas like chamomile are not really “tea” at all because they do not come from the leaves of the tea plant, so they have no caffeine. Chamomile tea comes from a plant with small daisy-like flowers. This herbal tea has many healing properties and is famous for its reputation as a sleep aid. Its sedative effect comes from a flavonoid called apigenin that helps create a calming response in the brain so that we feel sleepy.
Variations on the tea theme
If you are using ready-made teabags you can simply put a few different flavors in your cup or teapot. If you are using loose tea you can mix the flavors dry and put the blend in an infuser. You might also add one or any combination of the following ingredients to your chamomile, or mix them up to make your own unique sleep brew:
- Lavender is another flower that has been used for centuries to induce drowsiness. It pairs beautifully with chamomile.
- Turmeric, also known as Curcumin, is well known to help ease inflammation. Turmeric root is delicious with chamomile tea. Simply add a few thin slices to your cup for extra sleep benefits
- Lemon Balm reduces stress and helps to relieve both indigestion and anxiety.
- Valerian is a muscle relaxant and a strong sleep aid. However Valerian root on its own tastes kind of earthy, and is not very enjoyable to drink. Blending it with chamomile or any of these other variations ingredients makes it a lot more palatable.
- Ginger root is great for digestion and also has anti-viral and antibiotic properties. If you can’t sleep because you have an upset stomach or a cold a few slices of ginger is nice to add to your tea.
- Cinnamon is high in cinnamaldehyde, responsible for many of its health benefits. Cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar levels and fight infections. An easy way to get just the small amount you need and not overpower the other flavors is to stir your tea with a cinnamon stick.
- Rose helps to calm and bring bliss to the mind. Rose tea can be made from rose hips or rose petals or both.
- Honey contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, and gives a natural sweetness to the tea. Honey also supplies the liver with glycogen storage, giving it fuel to recover during rest so that it doesn’t have to produce stress hormones. This way the body can rejuvenate more easily, helping us to sleep more soundly.
- Himalayan salt contains minerals such as magnesium, essential for relaxation and stress reduction. You just need a little bit, a pinch will do.
- Coconut oil is a healthy fat that helps in the production of sleep hormones. Half a teaspoon melts easily in the hot water of tea and helps herbs to assimilate in the body more quickly.
- Milk or plant-based milks provide protein rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan helps boost melatonin.
Banana peels are rich in both potassium and magnesium, but can you imagine eating a banana peel? Making a tea from a whole banana is a remarkable way to get all the benefits of these nutrients deliciously! Drinking banana tea helps the blood vessels to relax as well as the muscles, getting you to sleep more quickly, and helping you to stay asleep longer. After drinking the tea you will want to try eating the banana, peel and all – it is surprisingly yummy!
Simply boil water in a pot.
Cut off the ends of one banana and place it in the water.
Boil the banana for 10 minutes or so, until the peel is soft.
Pour the water through a strainer into a mug and serve with a cinnamon stick if you want to make it look a bit fancy.
Warm milk has a long time tradition as a sleep remedy, and for good reason. Plant based milk such as almond or cashew milk works the same way because it is also high in protein. When heated, the milk helps to raise internal body temperature, which can calm and relax us. The calcium in milk has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Plus there’s the positive psychological effect it brings, maybe because milk was a comfort food for us when we were babies.
As a variation, dunk a bag of chamomile tea in your mug of warm milk. Or sprinkle in a pinch of nutmeg. Nutmeg is a powerful spice and acts as a sedative so be careful not to overdo it – 1/8 of a teaspoon is plenty. Saffron has mild sedative properties and is delicious with milk. Simply steep two strands of saffron in a cup of warm milk.
Sip warm milk slowly while winding down for the night, preferably curled up on a cozy couch with a soft blanket wrapped around you!
There’s no special potion that can help you to sleep if your mattress is in bad shape. The mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. If you’ve had yours for longer than 5-7 years, evaluate the mattress for lumps and bumps and signs of wear. It’s probably time to get a new one!
Cheers to a wonderful night’s sleep!
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Blogger: Lissa Coffey @CoffeyTalk