Kitchen Cures for Insomnia

Robin Azevedo @ 2018-09-17 17:22:20 -0700

When it’s late at night and you can’t get to sleep, what do you do? Many of us head for the kitchen, open the cupboard and try to remember what Grandma would have advised us to do. Thankfully, grandmothers everywhere have passed down recipes for drinks that can help us settle into slumber. Note the ingredients so you can have them on hand the next time you’re perusing the pantry at midnight.

Recipe: Cherry juice chaser

Tart cherry juice is loaded with an amino acid that helps the brain’s pineal gland produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. You don’t need a lot of it, just a half to a cup will do. As an option, add one or two drops of vanilla extract for a sweeter flavor and a little extra boost in relaxation benefits.

Recipe: Chamomile tea

Herbal teas like chamomile are not really “tea” because they don’t come from the leaves of the tea plant, so they have no caffeine. Chamomile tea comes from a plant with small daisy-like flowers. This herbal tea has many healing properties and is famous for its reputation as a sleep aid. Its sedative effect comes from a flavonoid called apigenin that helps create a calming response in the brain so that we feel sleepy.

Recipe: Variations on the tea theme

If you are using ready-made tea bags, you can put a few different flavors in your cup or teapot. If you’re using loose tea, you can mix the flavors dry and put the blend in an infuser. You also might add one or any combination of the following ingredients to your chamomile or mix them up to make your own unique sleep brew.

Recipe: Banana tea

Banana peels are rich in potassium and magnesium, but can you imagine eating a banana peel? Making a tea from a whole banana is a remarkable way to get all the benefits of these nutrients deliciously. Drinking banana tea helps the blood vessels, as well as the muscles, relax and helps you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. After drinking the tea, try eating the banana, peel and all— it’s surprisingly yummy.

Recipe: Warm milk

Warm milk has a long tradition as a sleep remedy—and for good reason. Plant-based milk, such as almond or cashew, works the same way because it’s high in protein. When heated, the milk helps raise internal body temperature, which can calm and relax us. The calcium in milk has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Plus, there’s the positive psychological effect it brings, maybe because milk was a comfort food for us when we were babies.

As a variation, dunk a bag of chamomile tea in your mug of warm milk or sprinkle in a pinch of nutmeg. Nutmeg is a powerful spice and acts as a sedative so be careful not to overdo it—1/8 of a teaspoon is plenty. Saffron has mild sedative properties and is delicious with milk. Simply steep two strands of saffron in a cup of warm milk.

Sip warm milk slowly while winding down for the night, preferably curled up on a cozy sofa with a soft blanket wrapped around you.

Cheers to a wonderful night’s sleep!

Warning: Alcohol impairs sleep

One drink to avoid is alcohol. While it’s true that alcohol makes you relax, it disrupts your normal sleep cycle and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, opt for some of the beverages with natural ingredients listed here to help you get the deep sleep you need. It’s best to have these drinks 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime so you avoid waking up to go to the bathroom.

Remember: A quality mattress = a good night’s sleep

There’s no special potion that can help you sleep if your mattress is in bad shape. The mattress is the foundation of a good night’s rest. Learn how to evaluate the mattress for lumps and bumps and signs of wear.

Lissa Coffey is a relationship expert, author and broadcast journalist. She writes for eight websites, including, and the Better Sleep Council’s site, A BSC spokeswoman, she stars in several videos that offer sleep and mattress-shopping tips for consumers.