Drinks for sleep

4 min read

The best bedtime drinks.

If you've been struggling to wind down in the evening, here are three delicious bedtime drinks to send you off to the land of nod...
Moon Milk

Moon milk
is a lovely drink to end the day... it’s basically a spiced warm milk (I prefer using a nut milk as it’s better for the environment and better for hormonal health!). In Ayurveda (one of the oldest systems of natural healing in the world), warm milk is a common remedy for sleeplessness.
 
This recipe features nutmeg (a natural sleep aid), turmeric and ashwagandha (an adaptogen which helps your body deal with stress) to shepherd you to the land of nod.
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What will you need.

1 cup whole milk or unsweetened nut milk (such as hemp, almond, or cashew)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ashwagandha (or another adaptogen, like shatavari or astralagus)
2 pinches of ground cardamom
Pinch of ground ginger (optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil or ghee
1 teaspoon honey, preferably raw
 
How to make it.
 
Simply bring to the milk to a gentle simmer and whisk in the cinnamon, turmeric, ashwagandha, cardamom, ginger, if using, and nutmeg; season with pepper. Whisk well to incorporate any lumps. Then add the coconut oil, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until warmed through, 5–10 minutes (the longer you go, the more powerful the remedy). Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in honey (you want to avoid cooking honey or you'll destroy its healing wonder). Pour into your prettiest mug (I’m a big believer in the beauty of a mug adding to the whole experience!), drink warm and snuggle right into bed.
Tip for the summer.
 
When it's hot and you don't fancy a warm drink, turn it into an ice version. Just let your drink cool, and then pour over ice. You won't get the benefit of the warm milk bringing on drowsiness but it will be a delicious, relaxing cold drink before bed.
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What it does.
 
The turmeric and ginger have wonderful natural anti-inflammatory properties. Many skin lesions (eczema,psoriasis flare-ups, acne etc) involve localised inflammation so these spices can be helpful for these conditions. Although take care with ginger is you suffer from rosacea as the essential oils in ginger cause relaxation of blood vessels so can worsen flushing.
Hot (or iced) Cocoa

Another delicious bedtime drink is a hot (or, in summer, iced) cup of cocoa but this version is calming, mineral rich and fortifying and won’t spike your blood sugar levels like a typical hot cocoa would.
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What will you need.
 
1 cup whole milk or unsweetened nut milk (such as hemp, almond, or cashew)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of maca powder
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
A pinch of cayenne
A pink of vanilla powder or ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey, preferably raw
 
How to make it.

Mix together raw cacao, cinnamon, maca powder and a dash of ground cayenne and vanilla powder. Dissolve the spice mixture in boiled water, add a heated nut milk of choice, and stir to combine. You can sweeten with a little raw honey.
 
Summer time

In the summer, let the boiled spices cool down, add to cold milk and pour over ice. The perfect iced cacao.
How it works.
 
Why is this such a calming drink? It's because of the magnesium and tryptophan in the raw cacao. Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is instrumental in sleep and a natural relaxant - helping to deactivate our stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It is often referred to as the sleep mineral and having low levels of magnesium has been linked to difficulties falling and staying asleep. It is a very common mineral to be deficient in (with an estimated 70%-80% of the UK population now thought to be deficient in magnesium).
 
Magnesium also vital for skin health! Without enough magnesium the levels of fatty acids and collagen which help keep our skin cells bouncy and plump will decrease - resulting in a dryer, uneven tone and more wrinkles! Magnesium can also help protect our skin as its involved in cell regeneration and recovery. If high cortisol levels are contributing to your acne, then magnesium can be helpful by lowering cortisol production and stabilising other hormone imbalances.
 
Tryptophan is an amino acid (the building blocks of protein) which is turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin (which plays a key role in our mood) and is then converted into melatonin (which is that hormone which makes us feel sleepy).
 
You might be wondering about the caffeine content. Isn't chocolate a stimulant? Most cacao contains a minor amount of caffeine (less than 1%) so not enough to disturb your slumber.
Herbal teas
 
Herbal teas are a simple and brilliant drink before bed as so many herbs have wondrous sleep aiding qualities - some amazing herbs for sleep are oatflower, lavender, limeflower, valerian root and chamomile.
 
I love the Pukka night time tea or you can experiment with your own concoctions buying herbs from somewhere like Neil’s Yard.
 
N.B. If your buying your own herbs always take care with any contraindications, especially if you are on other medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do get in touch with Jessica, if you want more personalised advice on which teas are right for you.
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Jessica Ferrari-Wells

Jessica is a London-based qualified nutritionist specialising in women's health. Having first studied psychology and neuroscience at the University of Oxford she became fascinated with how our wider health, diet and lifestyle impact our mental and physical wellbeing. Going on to work in a highly pressured corporate law environment, she experienced a deterioration in her own health and the health of her colleagues, in particular hormonal health and resilience. She went on to study and train in nutritional therapy and since qualifying has specialised in women's health, primarily hormone balance, energy, immunity, resilience, and mental wellbeing. Jessica unravels exactly what it takes to be well in the modern day - supporting her clients with clear, practical and educated advice and debunking common myths along the way.

Learn more about Jessica or get in touch with her for some personalised tips here.


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