The Best and Worst Beverages to Drink Before Bedtime

Everyone enjoys a good nightcap at the end of a tiring day to unwind and relax – get yourself into sleep mode before another hectic day tomorrow! But just because that drink makes you feel warm and cozy, doesn’t mean it won’t interrupt a good night’s rest.

Curious to know which bedtime drinks are good for your healthy shut-eye and which aren’t? This article takes you through a comprehensive list of the bets and worst beverages you can consume before bedtime.

*Disclaimer – Note that none of these remedies are medically proven or conclusively established. They may also not be suitable for people with specific health conditions. Consult your doctor before regularly consuming any of these beverages, because they aren’t medical solutions to insomnia or sleep disorder. They may just be soporific and soothing, thus aiding the process of sleep.

In addition, avoid drinking any beverages or fluids at least 3-4 hours before bedtime as they can cause interrupted sleep, especially for those with a nervous/sensitive bladder. Take a few sips, but keep the fluid intake to a minimum after 6 pm, so that urinary urges don’t disrupt the REM cycle.

Best Beverages Before Bedtime


Seems ridiculously simple, but staying hydrated is a great first step to ensuring good sleep. Keeping up water intake throughout the day staves off electrolyte imbalances, muscle cramps, and fluctuations in blood pressure.

Regular water intake also regulates your body temperature and keeps headaches at bay, consequently ensuring sound sleep. Remember to have your last glass of H20 a few hours before sleeping.


Milk has been a remedy for insomnia for longer than people can remember. This is because milk has tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes serotonin production. Serotonin, in turn, modulates mood and cognition and may have calmative effects on the brain and help sleep along.

With standard cow’s milk, there is an additional benefit if the cow has been milked at night, as the milk contains melatonin – the hormone responsible for humans’ sleep-wale cycle as well.

If you are lactose intolerant, or you are trying to lose weight by avoiding dairy - do not fear! You can opt for plant-based milk like almond milk which has just as much tryptophan, generates as much serotonin, and also contains melatonin and magnesium. Magnesium, for its part, relaxes the muscles by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Malted milk like Ovaltine and Horlicks not only warm you, and give you a creamy drink, they are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, and zinc – all of which boost melatonin production and regulate the circadian rhythm.

If you opt for other vegan milk like oat or cashew milk, you can supplement these beverages with ingredients that promote sleep such as blueberries, pumpkin, turmeric, banana, and avocado.

Turmeric protects neurons against oxidative stress and reduces inflammation, both of which can hinder sleep, while bananas are rich in potassium which also relaxes you. You can whip a bedtime smoothie of sorts with these ingredients and welcome sleep.

The curcumin in turmeric combined with whole cow’s milk is a “golden drink” as it can help with sleep deprivation.

Herbal Teas

There is a wide range of herbal teas to choose from that can create a restful atmosphere. The most popular ones include chamomile, Valerian root or blend, lavender, green tea (only decaffeinated), lemon balm, and passionflower.

Chamomile contains apigenin, a flavonoid compound that has a sedative effect because it binds to the brain’s benzodiazepine receptors. Valerian root reduces anxiety and stress by increasing the levels of the GABA i.e., gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter that calms you down, as does lemon balm tea, which works the same way.

Other herbal therapies include tulsi, ashwagandha, magnolia bark, and peppermint teas.

Keep in mind that these are alternative therapies whose efficacy varies from one person to the other. They are widely used, so safety should not be an issue. However, if you experience discomfort or seem to be allergic to these herbs, stop taking them.

Cherry Juice

Another sneaky fruit that is rich in tryptophan is the little cherry. While tart and sweet cherries are chock full of melatonin and tryptophan, the tart cherries have a higher content and should be preferred. 2 cups or 16 ounces a day should help tackle that insomnia – although fair warning its sour quotient is pretty high!

Worst Beverages Before Bedtime


How can the definition of a nightcap be bad for sleep? In fact, it is. Alcohol does make you drowsier before bedtime, be it a glass of wine or a chilled beer. But it doesn't improve your quality of sleep – it reduces it.

It can make you wake up more frequently after the first REM cycle, and it is also a diuretic which means you’ll be sleeping lightly, getting thirsty, and using the washroom at night more often.

Add to this the fact that regular consumption of alcohol to fall asleep is a very dangerous habit, and it makes you more tired, dehydrated and unfocused the next day.

Coffee and Tea

Other than decaffeinated herbal teas, coffee, and tea are high in caffeine that keeps you alert, active, and more energetic, because it stimulates your brain, even if consumed 3-4 hours before bedtime.

So, avoid these 6-8 hours before you go to sleep because caffeine has a long half-life that can seriously disrupt both early and later stages of sleep. It is also a diuretic, so unless you want to spend most of your night on bathroom runs, these are best avoided.


These drinks are high in sugar which makes you jittery at first, and then irritable and lethargic when the sugar crash hits. Carbonated drinks may also cause gastric distress and together, they form a great combination to make you toss and turn all night.

Avoid other sugary cold drinks and sweetened chocolate drinks.


Have you made a choice on which beverage to gulp down to get a night of peaceful snores?

Updated on: 23-Feb-2023


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