Fortunately, what you drink before bedtime could help you enjoy a more restful night. Your mother likely knew what she was doing when she sent you to bed with a mug of warm milk, a range of other delicious beverages could help you if you struggle to find peace at night. Here are just 10 of the drinks you can make at home to help improve your sleep.
The reason why many mothers and scientific experts alike swear by warm milk is because milk contains significant amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is also present in meals full of carbohydrates, which is one reason why many people feel sleepy after eating a big meal. Once tryptophan is consumed, it’s converted to the natural hormone melatonin in the body, which helps to regulate our natural sleep state.
Taking a step away from the classic bedtime solution, almond milk could be a fantastic sleep-inducing alternative. According to studies, the presence of serotonin in the brain can help to initiate sleep. Healthy serotonin levels in our central nervous system often depend on the presence of tryptophan, which is naturally found in both cow’s milk and almond milk.
Almond milk is also particularly high in magnesium, which is another important nutrient that can improve sleep quality.
Whether it’s the classic British option Horlicks, or products like Ovaltine and similar store-brand offerings, this nighttime beverage is a great sleep aid for those in favor of warm, milky drinks. Malted milk contains plenty of vitamin B, zinc, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium — a blend of minerals that’s perfect for helping you relax before bedtime.
Valerian root has been used for centuries as something of a sedative in the medical world. It’s also been used to help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote calmness in people as a natural remedy to stress.
The valerian herb is now frequently used to help treat sleep disorders, particularly for people who suffer from insomnia. Usually, it’s combined with lemon balm, hops, and other herbs known to cause drowsiness. Unfortunately, the only problem with this sleep solution is that you need to be willing to take regular naptime breaks, as valerian can become quite addictive.
Decaffeinated Green Tea
Green tea is generating a lot of interest in the modern world today thanks to its ability to promote weight loss. However, if you remove the caffeine boost from green tea, it has sleep-inducing benefits, too.
Green tea contains the amino acid known as theanine, which has been proven to help reduce stress and promote more restful sleeping patterns. While the high caffeine levels of regular green tea cancel out those benefits when you’re starting your morning, decaffeinated options can be perfect for bedtime.
Chamomile tea, like warm milk, is another more traditional option in the world of natural sleeping solutions. Experts have recommended the use of chamomile for years as an aid for those who suffer from insomnia. Often, this tea is very calming and soothing — as well as being caffeine-free.
Sometimes, people will pair their chamomile tea with other natural remedies, such as magnesium supplements, to help enhance the effects.
Herbal Tea with Lemon Balm
The last of our tea-based suggestions is just about any caffeine-free herbal tea. When mixed with lemon balm, herbal teas can make a perfect sleep aid for anyone seeking a natural way to drift off. Lemon balm, which is also known as balm mint in some areas, is a fantastic option for busting stress, fighting off insomnia, and promoting healthy sleep.
To make the best herbal tea, start by washing about 10 lemon balm leaves and adding them to your teapot with boiling water. Let the lot steep for about five minutes before adding a spoonful of honey and drinking it while it’s hot.
Pure Coconut Water
Coconut water might be a surprising addition to this list, as it’s often used as an energy-boosting beverage — or at least advertised as such. However, the truth is that coconut water is brimming with ingredients that can help you sleep better, such as magnesium and potassium, which help to relax muscles. This drink is also full of vitamin B, which is known for helping to reduce stress levels.
Another fruit-based sleep-assisting option is a banana smoothie, which can be made quite easily before bedtime and is fantastic for promoting healthy sleep patterns. All you need is to blend a small banana with some almond butter and milk for a delicious smoothie. Not only will this healthy beverage help you fight off midnight snack cravings, but it also contains plenty of magnesium and potassium to promote muscle relaxation.
Tart Cherry Juice
Finally, a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2010 found that drinking about 16 ounces of tart cherry juice during the day could result in a significant decrease in insomnia. The study was later duplicated and produced similar results.
Part of the reasoning behind this effect is that cherries are full of melatonin — an antioxidant that’s been known to regulate sleep cycles.
While none of the drinks listed above are guaranteed to knock you out in seconds, they do possess some great natural qualities that can help you wind down and switch off after a long day. Combined with other sleeping advice, these drinks might be just the remedy you need to fight off insomnia.
This is a very filling soup that is actually a recipe of my mum’s that we have been making on and off in the restaurant for years. Use the very best quality fish and shellfish for the best flavour
1 tblsp rapeseed oil
1 tblsp butter, softened
2 large potatoes, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 small onion, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 carrot, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1/2 small leek, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 tblsp plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
300 ml (1/2 pint) fish stock (page 254)
100 g (4oz) skinless salmon fillet, cut into cubes
100 g (4oz) smoked coley fillet, cut into cubes
100 g (4oz) cooked mussel meat
100 g (4oz) cooked peeled prawns
150 ml (1/4 pint) cream
1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tblsp parsley oil (page 250), to garnish
fresh micro salad, to garnish
makes about 1.2 litres (2 pints)
250 g (9oz) white fish trimmings and/or bones (such as lemon sole, brill or plaice bones)
3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
175 ml (6fl oz) dry white wine
100 g (4oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley
100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) rapeseed oil
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and then add the butter. Once it stops sizzling, tip in the potatoes, onion, carrot and leek and cook for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add the flour and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Season to taste.
Gradually pour the wine into the pan and allow it to bubble down, stirring continuously. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the salmon and coley and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the mussel meat, prawns and cream and simmer for another 2–3 minutes, until warmed through. Stir in the herbs and season to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each one with the parsley oil and micro salad.
Rinse the fish bones and trimmings of any blood, which would make the stock look cloudy and taste bitter. Place into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot with the leeks, carrots, fennel and parsley.
Pour in the white wine, then add 2.4 litres (4 pints) cold water to cover the fish and vegetables. Place on a high heat and bring to a simmer. After 5 minutes, remove the scum that forms on the surface with a spoon and discard. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, skimming as necessary.
At the end of the cooking time, remove the stock from the heat and strain, discarding the fish trimmings and the vegetables. Cool and store in a plastic covered jug in the fridge and use as required.
Pick the leaves from the parsley and place in a mini blender, discarding the stalks. Add the rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt and blend for 5 minutes, until completely smooth.
Pass the parsley mixture through a fine sieve into a jug and then transfer to a squeezy bottle. Use as required.
Neven’s tips: This soup can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered in the fridge. Just be careful when reheating not to allow it to come to the boil or the fish will lose its texture. Splash out on a rosé Champagne, rosé Cava or a ripe Chardonnay from Macon in Burgundy.
This recipe and many more are available in Neven Maguire’s The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook, published by Gill & MacMillan Books and available to buy here.
Serving Sliced strawberries 1 tsp granola per jar Fresh mint leaves
Method Add the raspberries, strawberries and defrosted cherries to a bowl and mash until they are completely broken apart. Divide into serving jars for older children and into a bowl for your baby.
In a separate bowl, mash the banana until it turns into a puree. Add in the chia seeds then stir in the milk. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes while the chia seeds soak up some of the milk and the mixture is a little thicker.
Spoon into the jars on top of the fruit compote filling the jars 3/4 ways up. Add just 1 tablespoon to the baby bowl.
Refrigerate overnight. The chia pudding should be thick and creamy.
👶🏻 Baby Led Weaning – Serve with quartered fruit, I used one strawberry and one raspberry. 👧🏻 For older children – serve with quartered fruit, a sprinkle of granola and top with fresh mint leaves.
Note: Chia seeds are a fantastic source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, calcium and zinc, and they make a super addition to your baby’s diet – if served in the right way. When serving chia seeds to your baby, it is essential to soak chia seeds overnight as it makes them more digestible for little tummies too.
Give it a try, and let us know what you think in the comments below!