This is the last of a three-part series that breaks down some sensory tips on how to have a great night’s sleep.
We like to think that sleep is very much a sensory experience. As your body rests and recharges for a new day, a wonderful blend of environmental factors come together to determine the quality of your sleep. Whether you know it or not, all 5 senses are at play: sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. The brightness of your room, the softness of your sheets, the smell of your surroundings, the food you consumed that day, and the background sounds are all factors that contribute to how good or bad your sleep is!
A commonly overlooked factor that determines how well your snooze is going to be is the choice of beverage you guzzle down right before you hit the hay. While some people enjoy having a hot drink solely to get all cosy and to set the mood for bed, drinks can actually do a lot more to help you unwind and relax for a better night’s sleep.
Herbal teas are especially good in this area – they’re caffeine-free, and the warm aroma helps soothe your senses and melt the stresses of the world away. Read on to find out what drinks you can knock back before bed that will knock you out (in the gentlest, most relaxing way possible)!
1. Chamomile tea
You already saw this coming, but it’s the undefeated champion in the teas-to-drink-before-bed category for good reason – the chamomile flower has long been renowned for its calming properties and in aiding sleep. Chamomile has its roots in ancient herbal medicine, where it’s been used as a natural remedy for depression and insomnia. It contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which helps initiate sleep by reducing stress levels and anxiety, which is exactly what we all need before a soothing night’s sleep.
2. Valerian root tea
A powerful tea that can cure a myriad of problems such as insomnia, headaches and anxiety, it’s so effective in reducing nervousness that it was used in World War II England to help alleviate the effects of anxiety and stress brought about by air raids. It’s effective as a sleep aid because it causes increased levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that can increase sleepiness. It helps you fall asleep quicker and reduces the number of nighttime awakenings. Think of it as an anti-anxiety medication, but all-natural!
This aromatic tea is well-known for its soothing and calming scent, which is why when you smell it, spas and bath salts instantly come to mind. Even during ancient Greek and Roman times, it was commonly added to baths. The aroma of lavender is so relaxing that it’s perfect to settle nerves and help you destress and unwind, making it the ideal tea to lull yourself into a deep slumber.
4. Hot milk
If you’re simply not a tea person, this is something you can try that’s a little nostalgic and a lot comforting. While there’s no actual scientific research to back up grandma’s favourite sleep solution, there’s no denying that a cup of warm milk is a comforting hug in a mug. This traditional practice serves as a bedtime ritual of sorts and puts you in a calm, sleepy, relaxed mood. It may subconsciously remind you of your childhood, sending soothing, familiar signals to your brain that it’s time for bed. Also, the warmth and heaviness of milk in your tummy makes you feel full and drowsy.
Now that we’ve covered what to drink, here’s what not to drink: COFFEE! But that goes without saying. Try to keep coffee consumption to the morning and early afternoon only, or else be prepared for a long night of battling insomnia.