The stresses of the past year literally drove many of us to drink. And really, who could blame anyone for seeking a liquid escape from the anxiety? But after more than a year of Zoom happy hours and boozy pandemic “quarantinis,” many of us could use a different kind of nightcap—something healthy, calming and relaxing. So we rounded up some of the best slumber-inducing ingredients to help you nod off—along with recipes to create the best drinks for sleep. Sweet dreams!
Noshing Montmorency or tart cherries boosts melatonin, the molecule that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. The fruit also contains sleep-inducing tryptophan. Just don’t mistake these pucker-producing fruits for the one you snack on: they have a strong cherry taste but much less sugar.
For a light, wind-down cocktail, try Nourish Nutrition‘s Cherry Citrus Spritzer: Mix cherry juice concentrate with citrus sparkling water and a squeeze of lime or lemon. That makes this an ideal sub for caffeine-laden soda.
After a strenuous day, Love and Zest‘s recipe for Cherry-Turmeric Bedtime Tea boosts tart cherry’s sleep-inducing power with the calming energy of chamomile. This is one of the best drinks for sleep because it also includes anti-inflammatory turmeric and warming ginger.
Moon milk has been a timeless Ayurvedic remedy for insomnia. Traditionally prepared with spices steeped in dairy milk, today moon milk recipes have been updated using non-dairy substitutes like nut milks (almond, cashew) or grain milk (oat, rice). Variations may include a dash cinnamon or cardamom; rose, lavender or chamomile flowers; adaptogens like ashwagandha and maca; natural sweeteners (honey, agave, coconut sugar); and even ghee. Dietitian Marisa Moore recommends a warm mug of Cherry Almond Moon Milk made with unsweetened almond milk, tart cherry juice, honey and vanilla extract.
Another Ayurvedic best drink for sleep, Golden milk is a creamy beverage that gets its sunny color from anti-inflammatory turmeric. Try this recipe from Well Plated that thickens the milk with a dollop of magnesium-rich almond butter to promote relaxation. It also adds honey, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and ginger for flavor. A pinch of pepper helps turmeric’s absorption.
For an even more interesting mix on this drink for sleep, Clean Eating‘s Reishi Golden Milk Nightcap replaces dairy milk with a blend of coconut milk and almond milk. It also includes reishi mushroom powder, ginger, turmeric, pepper and honey. Buzz it in the blender for a rich, thick version of Golden Milk with added anti-inflammatory benefits.
Hello Glow offers this recipe for Midnight Milk Powder. It relies on ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb used to combat stress, and pink schisandra berries, a Chinese medicine staple used to fight fatigue and encourage sleep. The complex flavors of the herbs are balanced out with powdered rose petals, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir a teaspoon of the mix into warm milk and watch it bloom a beautiful pink. Save the rest of the powder in an airtight container.
Chamomile has a well-earned reputation as one of the best drinks for sleep. It’s a source of glycine, which acts as a mild sedative to lull you intro dreamland. Kick its effectiveness up a notch by blending it with other calming herbs. Lemon balm, valerian root and passionflower, for example, are known to ease anxiety and insomnia. They increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that helps regulate mood and promote sleep. Fragrant lavender is famous for its calming effects as well. Mix and match these herbs according to your tastes for a relaxing sip.
Every ingredient in the Rosehip, Chamomile and Ginger Tea from Vegetarian Times supports your wellbeing. Brewing lemon balm with the chamomile gives you a double-dose of sleep support.
Lavender-Chamomile Herbal Tea from EatingWell includes a bit of refreshing mint. Make this one special by serving it over ice.
Emily Kyle’s Blueberry Lavender Smoothie is made with non-dairy milk, blueberries, banana, protein powder, and maple syrup for sweetness. Lavender, spinach, avocado, and a few drops of CBD oil are the surprise ingredients in this soothing blue nightcap.