Fortunately, what you drink before bedtime could help you enjoy a more restful night. Your mother likely knew what she was doing when she sent you to bed with a mug of warm milk, a range of other delicious beverages could help you if you struggle to find peace at night. Here are just 10 of the drinks you can make at home to help improve your sleep.
People have used this age-old remedy to help them drift into dreamland for decades, and it’s still a popular choice today, despite the fact that a New York Times article suggests there isn’t enough evidence to prove the ritual has any effect.
The reason why many mothers and scientific experts alike swear by warm milk is because milk contains significant amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is also present in meals full of carbohydrates, which is one reason why many people feel sleepy after eating a big meal. Once tryptophan is consumed, it’s converted to the natural hormone melatonin in the body, which helps to regulate our natural sleep state.
Taking a step away from the classic bedtime solution, almond milk could be a fantastic sleep-inducing alternative. According to studies, the presence of serotonin in the brain can help to initiate sleep. Healthy serotonin levels in our central nervous system often depend on the presence of tryptophan, which is naturally found in both cow’s milk and almond milk.
Almond milk is also particularly high in magnesium, which is another important nutrient that can improve sleep quality.
Whether it’s the classic British option Horlicks, or products like Ovaltine and similar store-brand offerings, this nighttime beverage is a great sleep aid for those in favor of warm, milky drinks. Malted milk contains plenty of vitamin B, zinc, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium — a blend of minerals that’s perfect for helping you relax before bedtime.
Valerian root has been used for centuries as something of a sedative in the medical world. It’s also been used to help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote calmness in people as a natural remedy to stress.
The valerian herb is now frequently used to help treat sleep disorders, particularly for people who suffer from insomnia. Usually, it’s combined with lemon balm, hops, and other herbs known to cause drowsiness. Unfortunately, the only problem with this sleep solution is that you need to be willing to take regular naptime breaks, as valerian can become quite addictive.
Decaffeinated Green Tea
Green tea is generating a lot of interest in the modern world today thanks to its ability to promote weight loss. However, if you remove the caffeine boost from green tea, it has sleep-inducing benefits, too.
Green tea contains the amino acid known as theanine, which has been proven to help reduce stress and promote more restful sleeping patterns. While the high caffeine levels of regular green tea cancel out those benefits when you’re starting your morning, decaffeinated options can be perfect for bedtime.
Chamomile tea, like warm milk, is another more traditional option in the world of natural sleeping solutions. Experts have recommended the use of chamomile for years as an aid for those who suffer from insomnia. Often, this tea is very calming and soothing — as well as being caffeine-free.
Sometimes, people will pair their chamomile tea with other natural remedies, such as magnesium supplements, to help enhance the effects.
Herbal Tea with Lemon Balm
The last of our tea-based suggestions is just about any caffeine-free herbal tea. When mixed with lemon balm, herbal teas can make a perfect sleep aid for anyone seeking a natural way to drift off. Lemon balm, which is also known as balm mint in some areas, is a fantastic option for busting stress, fighting off insomnia, and promoting healthy sleep.
To make the best herbal tea, start by washing about 10 lemon balm leaves and adding them to your teapot with boiling water. Let the lot steep for about five minutes before adding a spoonful of honey and drinking it while it’s hot.
Pure Coconut Water
Coconut water might be a surprising addition to this list, as it’s often used as an energy-boosting beverage — or at least advertised as such. However, the truth is that coconut water is brimming with ingredients that can help you sleep better, such as magnesium and potassium, which help to relax muscles. This drink is also full of vitamin B, which is known for helping to reduce stress levels.
Another fruit-based sleep-assisting option is a banana smoothie, which can be made quite easily before bedtime and is fantastic for promoting healthy sleep patterns. All you need is to blend a small banana with some almond butter and milk for a delicious smoothie. Not only will this healthy beverage help you fight off midnight snack cravings, but it also contains plenty of magnesium and potassium to promote muscle relaxation.
Tart Cherry Juice
Finally, a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2010 found that drinking about 16 ounces of tart cherry juice during the day could result in a significant decrease in insomnia. The study was later duplicated and produced similar results.
Part of the reasoning behind this effect is that cherries are full of melatonin — an antioxidant that’s been known to regulate sleep cycles.
While none of the drinks listed above are guaranteed to knock you out in seconds, they do possess some great natural qualities that can help you wind down and switch off after a long day. Combined with other sleeping advice, these drinks might be just the remedy you need to fight off insomnia.
Oatmeal bars (or just oats in general) are great for boosting your energy and giving you a much-needed top up of fibre, known to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. And apart from being full of health-benefits, added with flavours of cinnamon and vanilla, these oatmeal bars make a tasty snack to eat on the go anywhere.
- 2 sticks (226g) unsalted room temp butter
- 2 x 2/3 cups of white sugar
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grounded cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 tsp baking powder
- 1 big jar black cherry preserve
- Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF / 175ºC.
- Grease a baking pan (I used a 20 x 20 cm / 8 x 8 in) with butter and leave to the side.
- Cream the butter and sugar together really well.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking pan.
- Spread the preserves over it in an even layer.
- Crumble the remaining mixture, with your hands, over the raspberry preserves.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- Cool completely before cutting.
If you can’t get hold of any Black Cherry preserve then it’s just as easy to make your own – if not easier as you don’t need to leave the house! All you need is pitted black cherries, sugar and lemon. Glaze the cherries with sugar and leave for a couple of hours then simmer on a low heat for 1 hour.
This healthier alternative to the usual fruit crumble will surprise and delight even the fussiest of morning eaters. It is simple to prepare and a great way to get kids involved in cooking, not to mention getting fruit into them. Even the berries marinated in the orange juice and vanilla would make a gorgeous topping on porridge or a delicious dessert with a dollop of crème fraiche. This is suitable for those with a gluten, or lactose intolerance, as well as for vegans, by selecting the appropriate ingredient options.
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
125 each of Keelings strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, chopped if large TOPPING
75 g Rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
25 g Pecan nuts or hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 tbsp Honey, maple syrup or date syrup
1 tbsp Sunflower, light rapeseed oil or melted coconut oil or butter
1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
Natural yoghurt or coconut cream
Handful of fresh mint leaves
1Preheat the oven to 160C (fan 140C), 320F, Gas Mark 3.
2Mix half of the orange zest, all of the juice and the vanilla seeds or extract together in a bowl and toss the berries through to coat. Divide evenly between four individual, wide, shallow ramekins or baking dishes and set aside on a baking tray.
3Add the oats, pecan or hazelnuts, honey or syrup, oil or butter and cinnamon to a bowl and mix until well combined. Divide the topping evenly over the berries.
4Bake for 10-15 minutes until the berries have softened and the topping is golden brown.
5Remove and leave to cool a little before serving topped with a little natural yoghurt or coconut cream, a sprinkling of the remaining orange zest and mint leaves to decorate.
6Alternatively, these can be cooled completely and refrigerated to serve later (either cold or warmed up in the oven).
Instead of or aswell as the nuts, add linseeds, pumpkin and / or sunflower seeds or even chopped raisins or sultanas would work well too.
Add a handful of small chocolate drops to the topping mixture before baking for a healthier than usual crumble dessert.