When dining out for an evening meal, we’re often offered an array of after-dinner drink choices – including the likes of coffees, brandy, whisky, liqueurs, dessert wines, and herbal teas. However, not all of these choices will ensure a good night’s sleep, so which are the best drinks for hitting the sack?
Does having a drink before bed impact sleep?
Going to sleep fully hydrated means we’re less likely to wake in the middle of the night with the urgent need to quench our thirst. However, what we eat and drink before bed can directly impact our quality of sleep, so read on for the best hot and cold drinks, and which drinks to avoid, to sleep through the night.
What are the best drinks to have before bed?
While there are plenty of beverages marketed as sleep aids, the following types of drinks are proven to support and encourage a better night’s sleep.
Chamomile is an ancient herbal remedy, long favoured for its relaxing and sleep-inducing properties, and it is one of the best herbal teas to drink as a sleep preparation. This is because it contains apigenin, a flavonoid which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.
Drinking milk before bed often starts as a childhood habit, but the strong association with a bedtime routine can persist in later life.Milk contains tryptophan - an amino acid - that has been shown to encourage sleepiness, because it plays an important role in the production of serotonin and melatonin, which are integral to our sleep response.
Drinking hot chocolate before bed means extra calories. As an alternative, cocoa powder doesn’t contain any added sugar, and when mixed with warm dairy milk or plant-based milk, you still get the chocolate flavour, without the added sugar or fat.
Almond milk also contains tryptophan, as well as magnesium - which helps to promote muscle relaxation.
Coconut water is packed with electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, which help to relax muscles and promote hydration.
The worst drinks to have before bed?
Everyone is different, and individual tolerance can vary, but certain drinks that contain these known stimulants should be avoided before bedtime, as they can interfere with the onset of the sleep cycle.
As we age, our ability to metabolise caffeine slows down and can have a more noticeable impact on our ability to sleep. The stimulating effect of a single cup can last for 3 to 7 hours, and peak 30 to 70 minutes after consumption. Caffeine is also a diuretic, so it promotes urination and increases the need for a mid-night bathroom break. You can read more about the impact of caffeine on sleep here.
The combination of caffeine, sugar, and carbonisation is particularly stimulating to our senses, and often why we reach for the ‘red ambulance’ when we’re suffering from a hangover, but it has fewer benefits for our sleep cycle.
BLACK AND GREEN TEA
Enjoy drinking tea before bed? Well, herbal teas are mostly caffeine-free, however, both black and green tea contain caffeine, so it’s best to drink decaffeinated options at the end of the day to avoid messing with your sleep pattern.
While alcohol can help us fall asleep faster, there’s a good chance your night will be more fitful if you've only had a couple of cocktails, beers, or glasses of wine. In the initial stage, alcohol can suppress REM sleep, but as it is metabolised by the liver, it can become very stimulating, hence, you can find yourself waking up suddenly and finding it very difficult to get back to sleep. Read more about how alcohol can affect sleep here.
Pros and cons of drinking water before bed?
You might find yourself often wondering, should I drink water before bed? With zero calories, water is by far the healthiest drink of all. However, drinking too much, too close to bed increases the chance of having to go to the toilet during the night. To avoid bladder troubles interrupting your sleep, try to hydrate during the day, and avoid over-consuming in the two-hour window before you hit the hay.
Water and the interrupted sleep cycle
Sleep and hydration are closely linked, and finding the right balance is important to our sleep schedule. Drink too much water, and you’ll likely need to urinate before our alarm goes off, drink too little, and you may wake feeling parched or groggy.
Dehydration is a major cause of headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, dry mouth and nostrils, which can cause us to wake more frequently or prevent us from falling asleep. Lack of sleep itself may even cause dehydration.
The main ways we lose water are through urination and perspiration. You can help keep sweaty nights at bay by reducing the temperature in the bedroom and use breathable cotton bedding and a cooling mattress. Simba’s patented Aerocoil® springs maximise air flow and ventilation through our Hybrid mattresses, while our Hybrid® pillow and duvet feature Stratos® active temperature regulation to help keep you cooler.
Things to consider before having a drink before bed
Quenching your thirst close to bedtime? These tips can help reduce the need for nighttime bathroom breaks.
- Always empty your bladder as the final stage of your bedtime routine so that you don’t have to get up again later
- Try to sip don’t guzzle - downing several glasses of water or other liquids just before bed will make bathroom visits more likely
- Put your feet up - elevating your legs can help prevent the need to pee during the night and reduce restless leg sensations
- It’s not just about what we drink - make sure you’re also eating the right foods to ensure the best night’s sleep