We’ve all noticed the difference between certain drinks and the way they make our bodies feel. Some make us alert and energised, while other make us feel sleepy and ready for bed. The drinks we consume on a daily basis really do affect our bodies and our energy, peacefulness and quality of sleep. There are many different options and to kick 2018 off to a good start, this blog will cover the best – and worst – fluids to put into our bodies for a restful night’s sleep.
Is it true that I shouldn’t drink anything 90 minutes before bedtime?
First things first, I want to answer a burning question which is sometimes considered a complete myth. Unfortunately, it seems to be true. The 90 minutes before bed time gives our bodies a chance to let the liquids settle and (for lack of a better term) go through us. This leads to fewer distractions in the night so our kidneys can rest peacefully without us needing to wake up to go to the toilet once, or even multiple, times. Bedtime won’t be the same without a hot chocolate, but your body will thank you, although your taste buds might not…
The best sleep-inducing drinks:
Chamomile tea, drunk 90 minutes before bedtime, is known to induce a restful night’s sleep. Other herbal or flavoured teas for a peaceful rest include passion fruit tea with a small amount of honey.
A cool glass of cherry juice in the evening helps many people fall asleep faster than usual. And if it doesn’t make a difference, at least you know you’re filling your body with something healthier than chocolate milkshake!
A glass of milk before bedtime is effective for calming our nerves after a long day. It actually doesn’t make a difference whether it is drunk cold or warm, although you’ve probably always been told it’s more effective when warm. But this old wives’ tale isn’t exactly correct – milk contains an essential amino acid named L-tryptophan and it has not been proven to be stronger when warmed up. So drink it to your preferences, and – you guessed it! – drink it 90 minutes before bedtime.
The worst things to drink before bedtime:
Anything from coffee to coca-cola, lemonade and other sodas are known for their stimulating effects. They awaken our bodies, making us alert and energised – this is why many people are so reliant on their morning coffee! As anyone who drinks caffeinated drinks knows, the effects are short-lived and never last for more than three or four hours. And what can we do when we’re feeling sleepy and fatigued? Re-energise with more caffeine, obviously!
Due to the stimulating effect, our heart rate and respiratory rate are increased, making us feel jittery (potentially leading to restless-leg syndrome, making our legs bounce, sometimes uncontrollably), energised and potentially even anxious. These feelings continue until bedtime and affect how easily we’re able to get to sleep, while also disrupting our quality of sleep once we do.
Make the switch to decaffeinated drinks where possible, or if you can’t function properly without the caffeine intake, try starting with half-caffeinated and half-decaffeinated options, slowly decreasing the caffeine levels day by day. We’re sorry to break it to you, but professionals actually recommend to stop drinking caffeine after lunchtime, sticking to only caffeine-free fluids for the remainder of the day or they will only give you a not-so-sleepy buzz.
We have all experienced the effects of alcohol and the way it makes us relaxed and feeling like we could sleep for a few days, so it may confuse you that it’s on this list. Many of us love to enjoy a glass of wine or beer in the evening after a long stressful day, as the fluid acts as a sedative. After the alcohol has been metabolised – three or four hours after drinking it – our bodies try their best to abruptly wake us and after the rude awakening, it can be incredibly difficult to fall back to sleep.
Even after just one drink, the effects of the alcohol can leave us feeling tired and dehydrated the following morning. This is increased if you have a nap after your drink. Those that nap in the evening generally find it much more difficult to sleep through the night. You might never have snored before but after a few alcoholic drinks, people living with you might notice you snoring during sleep. Take note of this for when sharing the room with friends after a night out!
Believe it or not, water has made this list! Did you know that it’s important to drink at least 2 litres of water a day to improve our health? Well, did you also know that we shouldn’t drink too much of it throughout the evening? We’ve all heard of the term ‘it goes straight through me’ (usually regarding wine!), but this is actually the case with water before bed too. The water stimulates our kidneys, forcing our bodies to wake up multiple times throughout the night to use the toilet or simply lie awake with a head full of random and uninterrupted thoughts.
It tastes amazing, it’s warm and relaxing and it’s also full of sugar. One of our favourite bedroom drinks is one of the worst things we can put in our bodies when we’re trying to get to sleep… Even without a spoonful of sugar, marshmallows and cream, it’s just not a good idea right before bed.
To sum it up…
In summary, remember that what you choose to drink is equally as important as when you choose to drink it. Caffeine-infused fluids shouldn’t be drunk after 2pm and it’s important to refrain from drinking anything from up to 90 (or at least 60!) minutes before bedtime to help you to fall asleep faster than usual and minimise sleep disruptions during even the deepest night’s sleep.