There are a lot of drinks that we know we should not drink before bedtime. It is safe to say that most people knot they should avoid coffee before going to bed. But did you know that you should also avoid alcoholic drinks? A lot of people don’t know that having alcohol before bedtime is in fact, not such a great idea! Why not? Alcohol makes you drowsy and it is easy to doze off after you relaxed with a glass of wine. That’s great! However, alcohol inhibits your brain’s capacity to dream. So when you sleep with alcohol in your system, your body can’t enter the REM stage of sleep… If you can’t enter REM sleep, you can’t move on to the next sleep cycle. Thus your nights’ sleep is totally ruined!
Okay so if you can’t have a nightcap, what kind of drinks can you have to make you fall asleep faster? And when should you have it? Read on to find out!
Timing your drinks right
The first thing you need to do when preparing drinks before bedtime, it to time them right. Don’t go drinking a litre of water just before you close your eyes. Needless to say, you will wake up during the night and you will need to visit the toilet. Moreover, you don’t even want to drink a cup of water or tea right before you doze off. The same thing will happen. In the middle of the night, you’ll have to get out of bed to go to the loo. And we all want to avoid midnight toilet runs, don’t we?
According to dietitians the best time to have your nightcap is 90 minutes before you intend to fall asleep. Having the drink so long before bedtime may sound a bit dumb, but it just gives your digestive system time to get the fluids out of your body. Thus, when you fall asleep an hour and a half after you had your drink, you will most likely sleep straight through! No more bathroom breaks because of badly timed drinks. (speaking of which, excuse me for a second as I go grab some coffee. It is still morning, so I’m allowed!)
Unfortunately, the list of pre-bedtime drinks is not inexhaustive. Highest on the list is a whole lot of different kinds of teas. It is imperative to understand that Ceylon tea and Earl Grey tea are not on this list! These two teas contain caffeine, so they should not be consumed within five hours of bedtime. The caffeine can impair the quality of your sleep severely, so don’t drink any caffeinated drinks close to bedtime.
Here is a list of teas that you can incorporate into your pre-bed routine every night:
Rooibos is my personal favourite. It is indigenous to South Africa, contains ultra-low levels of caffeine and tastes amazing! the beautiful thing about rooibos is that it can’t be too strong. You can brew it for five minutes or you can just chuck a tea bag into a cup and let it stand for tens of minutes. The taste stays great and fresh. Rooibos tea also contains a lot of antioxidants that help the body to stay healthy.
My favourite way to drink rooibos before bedtime is to brew it in a pot on the stove. I put two tea bags and cold water in a smallish teapot. Then I bring the water to the boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, I just take it off the stove and allow for it to cool down a bit. Once it is cool enough to drink, I pour myself a cuppa and add a dollop of honey. Which, by the way, can also help you to relax and fall asleep. Honey contains a certain type of sugar that allows the brain to take up tryptophan (a sleep-inducing hormone) more easily. For those sweet tooths out there, don’t overdo it with the honey. One dollop is enough.
Since ancient times, herbalists have been using chamomile as a sedative. No wonder the tea is so highly promoted amongst those who suffer from sleep deprivation. Moreover, science is there to back it up! According to various research articles, chamomile tea has a calming effect on muscles and on the nervous system. Some of the more hardcore chamomile fans out there even say that it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. So if you are feeling down, have a cup of chamomile tea and head for the bed. You might wake up feeling a lot better!
Inhaling the scent of lavender helps the body to relax. That is a fact, not an opinion. A study by the Medical Association of Thailand found that inhaling lavender oil decreases heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature. Thus it puts your body in the perfect mood for sleep. If your body reacts so favourably upon smelling lavender, why not have lavender based drinks before hitting the hay? It sounds like the perfect bedtime drink to me, so give it a try and let us know in the comments whether it worked for you or not. And remember, before you drink your lavender tea, take a couple of deep inhalations of the fresh aroma given off by the tea as it steeps.
Vanilla is widely used in the food and perfume industries. An interesting study showed that test subjects were less likely to get startled after breathing in the scent of vanilla. Another study found that inhaling vanilla reduces anxiety levels in cancer patients. So if you combine lower levels of anxiety and the fact that you are less likely to get startled, sipping vanilla tea before bedtime sounds like a win-win situation.
Other bedtime drinks
I hope that you are ready to go tea shopping, but before you go, just add tart cherry juice and almond milk to your shopping list. Both cherries and almonds contain high levels of magnesium, which is an element that aids in muscle recovery and relaxation. When your muscles are relaxed, sleep tends to come on more readily. Cherries also contain the sleep hormone, melatonin. So if you drink your glass of cherry juice, you’ll get a dose of magnesium and boost the melatonin levels in your brain.
If you don’t like cherries or almonds, have a banana smoothie! Bananas also contain a lot of magnesium, so it will have the same restorative effect as the cherry juice or almond milk.
Okay, now you can go do your shopping! Drink up everyone and have a great weekend!