Alaska Sleep Education Center

Drinks for the Sleep-deprived?

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Jan 29, 2019 2:22:00 PM

Let's celebrate! It's hot tea month!  For centuries, tea has been a staple in cultures around the world. From Earl Grey for waking up in the morning to calming chamomile for winding down, tea plays a part in the everyday lives of many.

"The World of Tea" and how it helps improve sleep.National Hot Tea Month is celebrated each January to remind us all to take a minute to relax with a warm sip of our favorite flavors while we remember the long history and impact of tea.

Certain teas, warm milk and cherry juice are all beverages that are believed to be effective sleeping aids for restless sleepers, but do they (and other drinks that come with similar claims) actually help?


According to a 2016 study by insurance provider Aviva, Canada is the third most sleep deprived country in the world (tied with the U.S.) and NASDAQ reports the global sleep aids market will reach US$80 billion by 2020.

So if you’re having trouble sleeping, chances are you’ll try almost anything to get that good night’s rest.

Global News spoke with registered dietitian Nicole Osinga who offered up a list of the 5 beverages that are known to help induce sleep and a couple that are thought to but really don’t.

1. Dairy milk

“Dairy milk contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid used to manufacture a neurotransmitter melatonin,” Osinga says.

However, this option has many divided. Some say drinking milk – especially warm milk – can help promote sleep, while others say there is no evidence that it does. But it’s also important to note that milk contains another hormone called melatonin which is also related to sleep and relaxation, The Guardian reports.

Soy milk is also rich in tryptophan, Osinga says.

In fact, a 2010 study by the Universidade Federal de Sao Paolo found that soy, in general, may help ease sleep problems for older, postmenopausal women, Reutersreports.

This is due to isoflavones present in soy products.

3. Chamomile tea

“Chamomile is a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer,” Osinga explains. “A warm beverage can be very calming.”

According to a 2010 study by Case Western Reserve University, the sedative effects may be due to the presence of the flavonoid apigenin, a bioactive constituent of chamomile.

4. Smoothie with magnesium-containing foods

“Magnesium helps put your body into a sleepy state by helping with muscle relaxation,” Osinga says. “Some examples of magnesium-rich foods are spinach, nuts and seeds.”

According to Healthline, magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system known for getting you calm and relaxed. And by quieting the nervous system, magnesium may help prepare the body for sleep.

5. Banana shake

“Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium and also contain tryptophan,” Osinga says. “Simply combine your favourite milk with a banana and some cinnamon in a blender.”

Drinks that may not help

A recent small study of 11 people by Louisiana State University claims cherry juice may help induce sleepiness and give you an extra 84 minutes of sleep a night. The study claims the presence of sleep-inducing compounds like procyanidins and anthocyanins are in cherries.

READ MORE: 5 foods that will help improve your mental health

However because it’s such as small study, Osinga says not to bank on the claims.

“I never tried this as a sleep aid and it has not been something I recommend largely due to the sugar content in the juice (about 21g per glass),” she says. “I would be cautious in recommending this drink as a sleep aid. Instead, I would recommend a small handful of cherries, combined with a healthy fat like almonds to prevent a large blood sugar spike before bed.”

If you’re trying to get some shut-eye, also avoid drinking hot chocolate and soda, Osinga says.

“Both of these beverages contain caffeine,” she says. “High sugar foods and drinks will make your blood sugar spike and crash, which can interrupt sleep.”

Many times, a simple solution like which tea to drink will not help those that cannot get the rest they need each night.  If you live in Alaska and you think you may have sleep apnea, call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

Take Our Sleep Apnea Quiz



Topics: sleep myths, tea, drinks, caffeine

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