Just before you’re ready to call it a day and climb into bed, what bedtime drink do you like to have? A cup of hot chocolate, perhaps? A nip of brandy? Chamomile tea? Or maybe a good old standby like a glass of milk (cold or warm)?
If you answered, yes to any of the above, you’re good to go with all but one. You may have guessed -- it’s the brandy. Although brandy seems like a good bedtime drink and over the years, we’ve been sold on its soothing effects, the fact is that in the long run it will actually prevent you from getting the deep sleep you need to feel rested.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that more than one-third of adults in the U.S. do not get enough sleep, or they are sleeping less than seven hours in a 24-hour period.
The most obvious bedtime drink to avoid is coffee or any other caffeinated beverage. Nutrition experts recommend shutting down the caffeine intake sometime in the afternoon or at least by dinner time.
That’s easier said than done with coffee so popular thanks to the Starbucks trend. But the fact is that if you indulge in that cup of Joe to get you through the afternoon lull at work, you are less likely to get the deep sleep you need.
Of course, not everyone has a sensitivity to caffeine, but it’s good to know if you do. And while alcohol may help you fall asleep, that’s where it stops because it dramatically reduces the quality of your rest at night, especially the deeper stages of sleep or REM.
There are dozens of herbal teas available to help you drift off and the benefit of milk is always good provided you’re not lactose intolerant. Milk is a source of tryptophan, the amino acid that is converted into two brain chemicals associated with sleep: melatonin
which helps regulate your body's natural sleep and wake cycles, and serotonin, which causes relaxation and drowsiness.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is another essential for better sleep at night. If you go to bed even slightly dehydrated, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. To stay adequately hydrated, the National Academies of Sciences recommend 3.7 liters, or 15.5 cups of water on average each day for men; and about 2.7 liters, or 11.5 cups of water for women.
Six very popular teas that help induce sleep include chamomile, valerian root, passion flower, lavender, lemon balm, and magnolia bark. Most health food stores carry a wide variety of teas like this, or you can probably find them in specialty food stores such as Whole Foods.
Speaking of lavender, Island Slumber has a lovely Lavender Oil which is recommended as a soothing sleep aid. Lavender Oil has a calming effect when you rub a drop or two on palms and smooth it on your pillow. You can also rub it on your feet, temples, and wrists to help reduce anxiety.
The important thing is to find a bedtime drink that works best for you and one you enjoy. A soothing cup of your ‘favorite’ sleepy-time drink at night can make all the difference in how you feel when you wake up.
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