Most of us have bedtime rituals. We take showers, eat snacks, play certain music, watch certain shows, or read books right before bed. We arrange our pillows, shake out our blankets, and adjust the lighting. We set our alarms and switch our phones to silent.
For many of us, our bedtime routines incorporate some sort of evening beverage. A mug of hot tea. A glass of cold milk. A sweet wine after a long day. A cup of cold water after brushing our teeth. Whatever your beverage of choice, it's now firmly worked through the fabric of your evening.
Could it be, however, that what you drink is keeping you awake?
Is What I Drink Keeping Me Awake?
Everyone knows about the link between coffee and wakefulness. We won't insult your intelligence by explaining that in detail. If you are a coffee drinker who can’t sleep, however, we'd just recommend that you vary how much you drink in the afternoons and how late you take your last cup of the day. Working backward from that may help you achieve an earlier bedtime.
When it comes to non-coffee beverages, many of them may contain caffeine as well. Sodas and teas contain especially high concentrations of caffeine and should be avoided in the afternoon and evening hours.
Interestingly, the effects of alcohol consumption on sleep are a bit more complicated. Although a drink or two may help you unwind at the end of a tough day and drop off to sleep, such beverages can actually disrupt restful sleep in the long run, leading to fragmented sleep patterns later in the night.
Alcohol reduces how much time we spend in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—the stage of sleep where dreams generally occur. As a consequence, the sleep may feel less restful (BBC).
While a glass of wine in the evening probably won't lead to serious sleep disruption, consistent late-night drinking can definitely wreak havoc with your sleep cycle.
If you truly have trouble falling asleep without alcohol, there could be a deeper underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Whether the problem is psychological, physiological, or whether you just need a more comfortable mattress, it's probably not wise to rely on alcohol as a long-term solution. For the first two issues, consult certified professionals. For the third, come to us. (More on that below.)
So What Should I Drink?
According to one expert, when it comes to bedtime drinks that promote restful sleep, there are a few really solid options.
Cherry juice in the evening may help you fall asleep faster. Night workers may also benefit from drinking tart cherry juice in the morning to help them sleep.
Chamomile tea and passionfruit tea with a little honey, 90 minutes before bedtime, may make your sleep more restful.
Milk, 90 minutes before sleep, may also help you fall asleep (if you're not lactose intolerant). Whether you warm it up or not is a personal preference—it has no effect on milk's sleep-inducing properties, which are tied to the essential amino acid L-tryptophan.
Water is important to drink throughout the day for optimal health. However, drinking water right up until bedtime will stimulate your kidneys and you're likely to wake up multiple times in the first few hours of sleep.
For those who would prefer something with a bit more flair, you could always try a homemade sleep tonic. While some sleep tonics are labor-intensive and contain uncommon ingredients, some people find that the ritual of making them is enjoyable in itself.
If those options do not work for you, we would suggest some combination of the following: lemon, chamomile, lavender, and lemongrass. Whether used as an essential oil, steeped in an herbal tea, or (in some cases) dripped onto the tongue, these have all been shown to increase relaxation and promote restful sleep. Just be sure to do your own research and avoid using any herbs, oils, or additives against recommendations.
When Should I Drink?
When it comes to evening beverages, there are several considerations regarding finding the perfect timing.
First, let's look at the question practically. No matter what you're drinking, anything consumed after 8:00 pm has the high likelihood of causing you to have to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Those who already can’t sleep or who suffer from disrupted sleep don't need to add another item to the list of things keeping them from a restful sleep. Therefore, you will want to go easy on the liquids after dinner, especially after 8:00 pm. If you're going to have one of the pre-bed sleep-promoting drinks listed above, try to time it as close to then as possible.
Second, there's an extra consideration to be made if you plan to drink alcohol. If you're going to indulge, timing really does matter because the timing affects your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) throughout the night.
[A] BAC equivalent to about 0.04 is the threshold at which sleep starts to be disrupted...Adults typically metabolize alcohol at a rate that decreases BAC by about 0.01 to 0.02 per hour. And, in theory, if you drink earlier enough in the evening―happy hour, anyone?―your BAC has time to drop below the 0.04 threshold before bed.
That means even if you are just at .08 when you cut yourself off, it could take as long as four hours for your BAC to return to .04. Depending on the particulars of your body (weight, gender, ect.), the process could take even longer.
No matter what you decide to drink (or not to drink) to promote restful sleep, the least you can do for yourself is ensure you have a comfortable mattress to sleep on when you are ready to go to bed.
That's where we come in.
We Can Help
Here at Nest Bedding, it's our goal to help you find your best night's rest no matter what you drink. We carry premium mattresses at affordable prices, and we would love to see you take advantage of all we have to offer.
If you have questions about our mattresses, or if you would like to arrange to try your options, feel free to stop by our showroom any time or contact us directly to make arrangements. Once we hear your particular sleep needs, we will know how to point you toward the best mattress.
We look forward to hearing from you!