The traditional nightcap might be a fine way to put the lid on an evening out with a certain someone special, but as any cocktailer probably knows, another nip before bedtime isn’t the best answer for a good night’s sleep.
“Alcohol does make it easier to fall asleep for some people, but as it metabolizes, it turns into a compound that is actually as stimulating as caffeine,” points out Patty Tucker, a physician’s assistant and personal sleep coach in Windsor, California.
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Alcohol processes in the digestive system as a sugar, elevating insulin levels, which increases the heart rate and generally disrupts sleep patterns. Side affects can include acid indigestion and other stomach discomfort.
Booze before bedtime may help you fall asleep, but the alcohol metabolizes into a stimulant that will wake you up.
Similarly, the traditional teetotaling choice of a warm glass of milk processes the same way. Lactose is a sugar, and as good as that smooth cup of leche feels going down, it can come back to bite you in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, research does indicate that milk combined with another source of protein, like turkey or chicken, has sleep-inducing affects.
There are other drink choices that can relax the mind and body even as the alarm clock ticks on the nightstand.
“A good idea would be anything that is soothing, not too heavy in sugar, and definitely not alcoholic,” Tucker told LifeZette. “An herbal tea would be nice, non-caffeinated. The chamomile tea actually is pretty good for you, and tart cherry juice has some evidence of being a pretty good soporific.”
Lob it out to the masses, in this case ‘friends’ on Facebook, and one gets the predictably facetious, or maybe not, replies along with plenty of sensible responses.
Jack Daniels straight, beer, wine, and tequila, came the responses. That’s all well and good, my frivolous friends, but how’s that corporate meeting going to go first thing in the morning? More than one serious responder offered warm water with lemon, while several others agreed that low-caffeine herbal tea, including chamomile and peppermint, were the best choice.
“It has a calming affect, as do many other herbs like lemon balm and lavender,” said Shannon McCall, 51, a Seattle-based practitioner of Ayurveda, which combines ancient Indian elements of holistic medicine with diet, herbs, and yoga in a preventative wellness lifestyle.
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A yoga teacher herself, McCall recommends a specific brand of herbal nighttime remedies. “The Yogi Tea people blend several different herbs to compliment sleep from a few different angles to try to cover everything,” she said.