Supporting sleep with different foods and drinks can “really only work if the person obeys the foundation of good sleep,” Dasgupta said.
“The foundation is always going to be having a sleep routine, having a nighttime ritual, transitioning into sleep and many things are involved in doing that.”
Is it time for a cup of chamomile? Chamomile tea is a sedative and sleep aid traditionally used in different parts of Iran.
“It’s full of antioxidants, promotes calmness and can reduce anxiety,” Schmitt said.
“When you activate this receptor, it makes you sleepy,” Dasgupta said. “Many sleep aids that we take work on GABA.”
Valerian root tea
Valerian “does work on the (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor” that controls excited neural activity, Dasgupta said.
Warm milk and golden milk tea
Thanks to the tryptophan, calcium and magnesium in dairy, drinking warm milk before bed may help you sleep better. The warmth makes the beverage more soothing and easier to digest, Dasgupta said.
“Tryptophan’s the amino acid that goes on to produce things like melatonin,” he said.
“We know that melatonin is a natural hormone in your body produced by the pineal gland. And it’s secreted at night and it really is part of helping you try to get that good night’s sleep.”
“Turmeric has also been associated with good sleep,” but how inflammation affects sleep hasn’t yet been fully defined, Dasgupta said. “But anything that helps with pain, with anxiety or induces some form of muscle relaxation can always be helpful with getting good sleep.”
Lemon balm tea
Lemon balm, a lemon-scented herb that derives from the same family as mint, has been traditionally used for improving mood in addition to flavoring meat, seafood and baked goods.
Other beverages for beauty sleep
If cow’s milk sends you on too many trips to the bathroom or results in allergic reactions, almond milk is another good source of tryptophan, Dasgupta said.
Despite the reported benefits of these beverages, most of the studies haven’t compared if one method of consumption — such as pills, powder or tincture — is more fast-acting than the other, Dasgupta said. Talking with your physician about sleep aids is important, especially if you would be consuming them in combination with alcohol or medications.
And although herbal supplements may help you fall asleep, Dasgupta said, they could interfere with revealing the true underlying cause of poor sleep.
“Getting good sleep is like a puzzle,” he added. “It’s so hard to have all the right puzzle pieces for sleep. And when you try to find which one you’re missing, that’s the hard part.”
Make sure to try to put all the puzzle pieces together, including room temperature, light exposure, bedding, sound and routine.
Although he doesn’t buy in to all the existing research, Dasgupta doesn’t discount “a little non-caffeinated chamomile tea before bed as part of your ritual as you turn off the technology and sit down,” he said. “I think those things are really good.”