Sleep is a time to rest, renew, and regenerate. It is one of the most important things one can do to stay healthy! That is why nature has created the human body in such a way that it has to spend one-third of its time resting or, more precisely, sleeping.
Yet, people these days are neglecting sleep. This is causing an increase in brain disorders, mood and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression, high-stress levels, and even an increased risk of metabolic diseases. Of course, sleep is not solely responsible for their rise, but now researchers realize it is a significant and independent contributor to these health issues1.
All this means that to stay healthy, people must improve both their sleep quality and quantity. It appears that some herbal drinks may help achieve these objectives.
The 6 Best Bedtime Drinks to Help You Sleep
Before discussing various drinks that may help improve sleep, one important tip: always drink these herbal teas or drinks at least an hour before going to bed. Do not drink too many fluids before bedtime; do not forget to void your bladder to avoid nighttime awakening.
Valerian root is the king when it comes to herbal remedies for sleep improvement and reducing anxiety. It is the most extensively tested herb of all. What is good is that it is not a strong sedative, its effect is mild, and it does not change sleep architecture.
Valerian tea is good for prolonged and daily consumption and does not cause any side effects. Since it does not change sleep architecture but enhances sleep quality, those who drink Valerian tea regularly report feeling well-rested and do not experience morning headaches. Valerian is listed as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS)2.
Ashwagandha is among the most potent adaptogenic herbs known to science, which is why it is popular. It can enhance mood, boost energy levels, and yet lower anxiety and blood pressure. Similarly, it helps people feel energized, and at the same time, it enhances sleep quality.
What is good about ashwagandha is that it is an extensively tested herb. One of the systemic reviews published recently found that taking ashwagandha regularly appears to enhance sleep quality. These benefits are both due to its impact on general well-being and its effect on certain neurotransmitters3.
(Tart) Cherry Juice
Cherry juice is not just high in antioxidants. It also enhances melatonin production, which is a naturally occurring sleep hormone. Thus, using cherry juice is one of the most effective ways of improving circadian rhythm and enhancing the sleep-wake cycle. If you regularly drink cherry juice, within a few weeks, you will notice that you are able to sleep better during the night4.
Banana is known to improve sleep quality in multiple ways. It is rich in dietary fiber and improves gut health. It has certain bioactive compounds that enhance melatonin production in the body. Additionally, bananas are an excellent potassium source that helps calm nerves and the cardiovascular system. Studies show that banana smoothies may be particularly helpful to older adults living with sleep disorders5.
Golden milk is prepared by adding golden spice, which is turmeric, to milk. Although drinking warm milk in the evening itself is known to enhance melatonin production, adding turmeric to it may have added benefits. Studies suggest that turmeric promotes sleep by acting on the histamine receptors and also by reducing stress levels6.
Also, remember that turmeric or golden milk has many other health benefits. It is also suitable for reducing stress, inflammation, and joint pains. This may also contribute to its sleep-enhancing effects.
Almond milk has been widely recognized for its potential benefits in improving sleep quality. As a popular dairy milk alternative, almond milk is naturally lactose-free. It contains no cholesterol or saturated fats, making it a healthier choice for those seeking to enhance their sleep patterns. Almonds are a good source of magnesium; a mineral known to promote relaxation and help regulate sleep.
Additionally, almond milk is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for inducing sleep and maintaining a balanced sleep-wake cycle.
In conclusion, these six herbal bedtime drinks offer promising solutions for improving sleep quality and overall health. All these herbs have been well-tested in numerous clinical studies. Thus, there is a sound reason to recommend them. For maximum benefit, one should use these natural remedies regularly. Of course, one can interchange, but use any of the above remedies regularly for a week to understand what works best for you. Additionally, you might also consider sleep supplements that contain most of these bioactive compounds.
- Wolk R, Somers VK. Sleep and the metabolic syndrome. Exp Physiol. 2007;92(1):67-78. doi:10.1113/expphysiol.2006.033787
- Valerian Information | Mount Sinai - New York. Mount Sinai Health System. Accessed August 3, 2023. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/valerian
- Cheah KL, Norhayati MN, Yaacob LH, Rahman RA. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. 2021;16(9):e0257843. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257843
- Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(8):909-916. doi:10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7
- Panurywanti EE, Wiboworini B, Indarto D. The effect of banana dose and duration on the decrease of sleep disorders in the elderly. J Med Allied Sci. 2021;11(1):71-76.
- Um MY, Yoon M, Lee J, Jung J, Cho S. A Novel Potent Sleep‐Promoting Effect of Turmeric: Turmeric Increases Non‐Rapid Eye Movement Sleep in Mice Via Histamine H1Receptor Blockade. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021;65(14):2100100.