When looking for something to nudge you gently into snoozeland, is warm milk better than a specially formulated sleep beverage?
We’re always on the hunt for new ways to get a better night’s sleep. Our rooms are dark and cool. Our mattresses are supportive in all the right places and our linens crisp and clean.
Should we add a sleep-inducing beverage before bedtime? Some people believe warm milk is the key to sleeping better – but what about specially formulated waters and protein powders or simple drinks like chamomile tea?
Check out what science says and how these options might work for you…
New beverages stacked with snooze-inducing ingredients
You might have noticed there’s plenty of buzz around specialty waters that boast sleep benefits as part of a “functional beverages” trend. They come stacked with ingredients known to have a beneficial effect on reducing stress and creating a greater sense of calm.
California-based Neuro Drinks has introduced Neuro Sleep, which relies on melatonin, the body’s own sleep-inducing hormone, along with amino acids that help with relaxation, plus extracts of pomegranate, acai and blueberry. The drink is vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free and has just 35 calories a bottle. The star ingredients include magnesium citrate, l-theanine, melatonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan (also known as 5-HTP), a type of amino acid. Magnesium, one of the key ingredients, is known for its ability to calm nerves and lessen anxiety.
Another option is Dream Water’s Snoozeberry flavor, a combination of blueberry and pomegranate. The idea is to drink a 2.5-ounce shot 30 minutes before bedtime. It’s formulated with a proprietary blend of gamma-aminobutyric acid, something brain neurotransmitters need to help the body relax; melatonin, a synthetic version of the hormone made by the pineal gland; and 5-HTP, which converts to serotonin in the brain. And fortunately, it has zero calories and no sugar.
Make sure you check the labels carefully on these types of beverages. Some are heavy on the sweetness with as much as 54 grams of sugar. That’s more than 13 teaspoons—more than 2 Twix candy bars!
A new option has been introduced by Growing Naturals with its new lineup of Benefit Blends products, a selection of plant-based, low-sugar, protein drink supplements made from pea and rice proteins. The P.M. Restore Powder (chocolate flavored) can be blended with water or any type of milk, served hot or cold.
The powder has been designed to help curb snacking urges and late-night fridge raids with 15 grams of rice and pea protein (about the same as a 2.7 ounce serving of wild salmon) and 5 grams of hunger-curbing fiber, plus antioxidants to help with overnight cell repair. Other nutrients include 4.8 grams of iron, vitamin C and relaxation helpers such as lemon balm leaf, chamomile flower, melatonin, 5 HTP and two amino acids.
Winning better sleep with the gold standard—tea
Bedtime and tea have been a longtime winning combination to set the groundwork for better sleep. Chamomile is a superstar in that realm. Mary Ann Rollano is a registered nurse, tea expert/blogger and award-winning tea entrepreneur—and a fan of chamomile.
“It’s the herbal tea for sleep induction,” she says. “Chamomile is one of the most widely consumed herbal teas in the world and has been used for centuries, dating back to the Egyptians. It’s known for its ability to induce a feeling of relaxation and to relieve stress.”
Chamomile is a small flowering annual herb in the daisy family and can be brewed from fresh or dried flowers. It’s gentle, yet effective. “Aside from being a natural sedative, it’s also an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial,” explains Rollano. “It’s safe for both adults and children to drink as it doesn’t contain any caffeine.”
She says that to get the most benefit, you should buy quality chamomile tea. Many supermarket chamomile teas don’t even contain any flower at all. Look for a product with as many whole flowers or at least white flower petals as possible to get the most chemical benefits of the chamomile.
Mary Ann’s Chamomile Honey Iced Tea with Vanilla & Mint
- 24 ounces of water
- 4 tablespoons chamomile flower (dried)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 teaspoons local natural raw wildflower honey
- ½ teaspoon dried mint or 2 fresh mint leaves
Bring filtered water to boil. Add Chamomile flower and steep 10 minutes. Add vanilla extract, honey and mint. Strain into a heat-resistant pitcher, then add enough ice to bring the amount up to 32 ounces. Serve and relax!
Not a fan of chamomile? You can also try lemon balm tea. One study found that participants had 18% less anxiety and 42% less insomnia because it can boost the levels of stress-calming brain neurotransmitters.
Cheery cherries for better sleep
In some small-scale studies, insomniacs who consumed two eight-ounce servings of tart cherry juice twice a day for a two-week period slept more—as much as 90 minutes accumulative over that time period, according to one report— compared to a placebo. Skip the cherry juice blends and ones with sugar to reap the full benefits of cherries and their anti-inflammatory properties that help regulate sleep.
Warm milk, the time-tested superstar
You can thank the amino acid L-Trypophan for milk’s ability to help you fall asleep faster. Warm or cold, it works either way. Vegan or lactose intolerant? Reach for soy milk, which is a good source of magnesium – recognized for its muscle-relaxing and nerve-soothing properties. Use it to make a smoothie with almond butter and bananas, two other magnesium-rich sources.
One important caveat when it comes to sleep-inducing drinks
While sipping various drinks in hopes of a sweet slumber, tread carefully or risk frequent, snooze-interrupting trips to the bathroom. Cut off your intake of sleep-inducing liquids (and any other fluids) at least two hours before you head to bed. While a visit or two to the loo is normal, frequent bathroom journeys may be a sign of a trouble, perhaps a urinary tract infection. Talk to your doc if your mid-sleep toilet trips become problematic.
And something else to note: For those over the age of 60, it’s not your imagination. You do pee more—especially at night. As we age, the bladder’s capacity to hold urine decreases; all the more reason to go easy on sipping before it’s time for lights out.
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