In anticipation of our upcoming list of natural sleep remedies, we’re sharing 3 incredibly simple drinks that you can whip up before bedtime that will help you relax, unwind, and drift off to dreamland (and no, none of them contain alcohol, which will actually disrupt your sleep patterns.)
Cherry juice (and vanilla) drink
I have made cherry juice a regular part of my morning and nighttime routines since the first time I tasted it. To make it even better, it is one the easiest sleep tonics you can concoct!
Why tart cherry juice: Tart cherries are incredibly rich in melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycles, so indulging in a glass of the tart but sweet ruby red liquid every morning and night will help you keep your sleep schedule on track.
Why vanilla (optional): Vanilla has a soothing scent, and adding a drop of extract to your cherry juice can provide aromatherapy benefits that will help you doze off.
You will need…
-5-8 ounces of tart cherry juice
-A drop or 2 of vanilla extract
In the morning pour yourself about 5-8 ounces of tart cherry juice and drink it in its entirety. At night 1 hour to half an hour before bed repeat, adding a drop or 2 of vanilla if you desire. I would suggest sticking to using the vanilla only at night, since you don’t want to get too relaxed first thing in the morning!
Fresh Chamomile-lavender tea
This tea combines two of the most relaxing herbs known to promote rest and a sense of calm-lavender and chamomile.
Why chamomile: It’s not exactly pinpointed just what in chamomile gives it its sedative effects, but some research has tentatively shown that a constituent in chamomile called apigenin can bind to GABA receptors in the brain, creating a mild response similar to anti-anxiety medication, such as Xanax, does. GABA is the second most common amino acid in the body and plays a huge role in our central nervous system, calming us down and, of course, helping us relax into sleep.
Why lavender: Lavender is a scent that has been used to relax and unwind for centuries. Recently a study showed that people exposed to its odor had a change in brainwaves patterns, suggesting that it did indeed induce drowsiness.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of lavender buds
-1 teaspoon of chamomile buds
-8 ounces of hot water
-milk/honey to taste (optional)
Bring 8 ounces of water to a boil. In a teaball or loose-leaf tea strainer, place 1 teaspoon each of lavender and chamomile buds. Put the straining device in your cup and pour the boiling water over it. Allow the herbs to steep for 10-15 minutes-the longer it steeps the stronger the flavor will be. Add milk and/or honey to taste. If you don’t have a teaball or something similar, simply pour the hot water directly over the herbs in a bowl and then use a kitchen strainer to remove the buds.
Warm milky drink
This tasty combination of warm milk, honey, and a sprinkling of nutmeg is your ticket into Snoozefest.
Why warm milk: The idea that warm milk helps you fall asleep didn’t come from nowhere, as people over the centuries could tell you it really does work, but not for the modern day reason that states it makes you sleepy because of tryptophan. Conclusive studies have been done that show milk does not raise tryptophan levels, but it can raise your internal body temperature when it’s heated, which will relax you and make you sleepy and calm. Add to this the most powerful effect of all, the placebo effect. Warm milk seems to do something psychologically that makes us calm and drowsy. Perhaps it makes us harken back to our days of infancy, and therefore makes the drinker “sleep like a baby.” Either way you look at it, there’s something about it that makes falling asleep a breeze.
Why honey: L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid vital to our rest. It is the precursor to serotonin, which can be converted into melatonin, and melatonin is what regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Honey creates a spike in insulin, which drives tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. It is then converted into serotonin, which in darkness is converted in to melatonin in the pineal gland in our brain. The result is that as nighttime approaches, you have more melatonin to tell your body “ok, it’s time to sleep now.”
Why nutmeg: Nutmeg is a pretty powerful spice-so much so that it’s very possible to “overdose” and end up getting looped out, feeling incredibly ill, hallucinating, and experiencing a myriad of other unpleasant side effects. Ingested safely though it is a pretty darn good natural sleep-aid, thanks to numerous chemical components that act similar to tranquilizers-just stick to a quarter teaspoon or less.
You will need…
-1 glass of milk
-2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of honey
-1/8 teaspoon to a 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Warm up about 8 ounces of milk in your favorite mug. Heat it until it’s a little hotter than you would comfortably drink, and stir in 1 tablespoon of honey (or as little as 2 teaspoons if you prefer.) Sprinkle with a ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg at the most, and let it cool to a temperature that is still nice and toasty warm but drinkable. Make this about 30 minutes before bed when you start winding down, sip slowly, and enjoy!
Any remedy dealing with sleeping troubles strikes a chord with me, as I myself have struggled with insomnia for over 4 years. The world we live in now just does not cater itself to a good night’s rest, with our daily lives full of caffeine, various dramas, work, and stress. If anything though, I’ve found that the fact that sleep is harder and harder to achieve for a lot of people means that it’s that much more important we actually do find a way to get as much as we need.
Tip: Make your drink at least a half an hour before bedtime so you’re not waking up in the night to run to the bathroom!
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By Claire GoodallClaire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything :) Meet Claire→
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