4 drinks that will help you get a better night’s sleep
Your mum wasn’t wrong when she said a warm cup of milk before bed would help you sleep. But it’s not the only drink that will ease you into the land of nod.
Sleep: If you don’t get enough of it, your health, safety, mood and even relationships may suffer.
“It’s very important to get it right,” says Professor Robert Adams, of the Sleep Health Foundation.
Yet one in three Australians does not get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye we need for good physical and emotional health. And once we do fall asleep, only one in seven of us sleeps through the night.
To improve sleep, a good routine and sleep hygiene are important – going to bed at the same time, winding down before bedtime, not using electronic devices in the bedroom and keeping your room at a comfortable temperature.
But sipping a comforting drink is another way to help relax your body and prepare it for sleep.
Try these sleep-inducing drinks to have before bed
Sour cherry juice may seem an unlikely night cap but as well as being rich in healthy antioxidants, cherry juice also contains natural melatonin – and melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
In one study, people who had a small glass of sour cherry juice half an hour before bed slept 39 minutes more than those who didn’t drink juice.
“The sourer the juice the higher the levels of melatonin,” says Lisa Renn, of the Dietitians Association of Australia.
“It won’t work for everyone but as it’s only juice, it can’t do any harm to give it a try.”
This is a longtime favourite before bedtime – and with good reason, says Lisa.
“It may partly have a psychological calming effect but milk also contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes sleep,” she says.
“Milk is a good bedtime drink because the calcium in a glass of milk is also protective for teeth during the night, too.”
Have your warm milk about an hour before you want to sleep as it takes about an hour to process.
It’s not the cocoa or hot chocolate that may help you feel sleepy, it’s the hot milk in your drink and the effect of the tryptophan.
“Instead of adding chocolate to hot milk, try a few drops of vanilla essence instead,” suggests Lisa. “It will be kinder on your teeth.”
Top of the list of teas is chamomile.
Its calming effects are believed to be due to a flavonoid called apigenin.
Peppermint tea also has a soothing effect, particularly if your stomach feels a little unsettled before bedtime.
“The flavonoids in chamomile tea help bind to receptors in the brain to have a calming effect,” says Lisa.
“A warm cup of tea before bed can also be part of your winding down ritual.”
World Sleep Day is on March 13.
More tips for better sleep:
- What happened when I started prioritising sleep
- How to get a good, safe night’s sleep when you’re pregnant
- Could a sleep divorce save your relationships?
- Baby sleep: 9 things parents do wrong
- The amazing power of a good night’s sleep
Written by Sarah Marinos.