Whatever we may consume ourselves with during the day — work, school, or even play — can severely interfere with our sleep. We wake up early to get the day rolling and maybe squeeze in a trip to the gym before work or do some last-minute studying before a 9:00 a.m. exam or meeting. Then, we push through the day and often stay up late, whether out on the town with friends or at home finishing up the work of the day. These habits affect our ability to get in the recommend seven to nine hours of sleep needed each night and can take a toll on our physical and mental health.
It is often difficult to wind down and relax before hitting the sack because of the 101 things we all seem to consume ourselves with. To ensure a good night’s sleep, it is important to slow down, stop your mind from racing, and take it easy before bedtime. Still, every now and then we need a little help from an outside player.
Mothers often send their children to bed with a cup of warm milk to help them doze off — this is just one of many drinks that may help induce sleep after a long day. There are also numerous herbs and herbal supplements used to make teas that are said to help promote sleep. And although the National Institute of Health notes that few adverse effects have been reported, be sure to consult a doctor before adding any herbal supplement to your diet.
Here are our top picks for drinks that may help you snooze a little bit easier.
Tart Cherry Juice
A small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in June 2010 showed that consuming two 8-ounce servings of tart cherry juice during the day (once in the morning and once two hours before bedtime) resulted in a significant decrease in insomnia. The study was repeated in September 2010 in the Journals of Gerontology with similar results. This may be because cherries contain melatonin, an antioxidant that is known to help regulate our sleep cycle.
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has a deliciously sweet, lemony taste. Steep lemon balm leaves in boiling water to make your own relaxation tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lemon balm has been used to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety since the Middle Ages.
This age-old cure for sleeplessness, said to be effective because milk is high in the amino acid tryptophan, reportedly has a calming effect on the brain and helps induce sleep. The effects may be purely psychological, though, as according to a New York Times article published in 2007, there is not enough evidence to prove that tryptophan is what causes sleepiness. Regardless, many people swear by this bedtime ritual.
Decaffeinated Green Tea
Green tea contains the amino acid theanine, which has been shown to help reduce stress and promote a restful sleep. However, the high caffeine level of regular green tea can outweigh these benefits when you are trying to calm down in the evening, so be sure to go for decaffeinated varieties.
Pure Coconut Water
Though coconut water is advertised as an energy-boosting drink, it may also help you sleep better. Coconut water is a good source of potassium and magnesium, which help your muscles relax. It also contains a small amount of B vitamins, which can help lower stress.
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