‘I’m a Sleep Specialist, and These Are the 4 Best Sleep-Boosting Drinks To Sip Before Bed—And Throughout the Day’

Photo: Stocksy/ Tatjana Zlatkovic
Though you might be in the habit of eating a couple of melatonin gummies before bedtime with the hopes of getting a good night’s rest, know that they are far from the only thing you can consume for better sleep. In fact, according to two leading sleep experts, what you eat and sip on throughout the day plays a critical role in the quality of your shuteye. To help with restless nights, these sleep specialists shared four of the best rest-inducing drinks (and the last one might really surprise you). Plus, they unveil what not to drink before bed that can disrupt the quality of your sleep throughout the night.

Experts In This Article

4 best rest-inducing drinks to sip on throughout the day, according to sleep experts

What drinks help you sleep?

Chamomile Tea

So, does chamomile tea make you sleepy? In short, yes, yes, it does. According to sleep-medicine specialist Wendy Troxel, PhD, a senior behavioral scientist at the public policy research organization RAND Corporation and author of Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep, one of the best bedtime drink options is chamomile tea. A study analyzing the therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality showed a significant improvement in sleep quality after chamomile administration. “For many people, having a cup of chamomile tea as part of a nightly wind-down routine is a great way to set the stage for a good night of sleep,” Dr. Troxel says. "And it can also be consumed throughout the day." The same study also found that this ultra-calming drink can potentially help yield significant improvements in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms in as little as two weeks.

Chamomile tea also contains a potent flavonoid called apigenin, which is linked to helping reduce anxiety and help one fall asleep faster. (Pair it with one of our favorite calming sleep apps or foods that make you sleepy, and you've got the secret recipe for a good night's rest.) That said, although chamomile tea may be effective in promoting feelings of ease and relaxation for some, keep in mind that it may not be effective in improving insomnia severity for others. Additionally, some folks can experience side effects from consuming chamomile tea, including nausea, dizziness, vomiting, or in rare cases, anaphylaxis. As such, it's best to consult with a medical professional before introducing this beverage into your daily routine.

Tart Cherry Juice

Dr. Troxel also recommends drinking tart cherry juice, which evidence has indicated may enhance sleep quality. Research suggests that tart Montmorency cherries contain high levels of phytochemicals, including melatonin, a molecule critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in humans. The study also shows significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency with cherry juice supplementation. Tart cherry juice recipes, anyone?

Although tart cherry juice and chamomile both help promote relaxation and sleep, how do they stack up against one another? In truth, both are equally great, but it ultimately boils down to what your end goal is. On the one hand, tart cherry juice may be most suitable for folks that aren't producing sufficient levels of melatonin or struggle with insomnia. On the other, chamomile may be most effective for folks that lose sleep due to stress or anxiety and simply want to fall asleep more quickly. So, it depends on what you're dealing with.

But it's also worth noting drinking tart cherry juice can cause side effects for some, including constipation, diarrhea, excessive hunger, and memory loss. What's more, those who take blood thinners should consult with a medical professional to learn if consuming tart cherry juice is right for them.

What should I drink for lack of sleep?


Now, if you don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to pee a million times (and disrupt your sleep), sleep experts suggest cutting back on fluids a few hours before bedtime. This is why drinking plenty of water early on and throughout the day is important. “It’s critical to stay hydrated during the day, as you don't want to be guzzling liquids at night, which can, in turn, lead to frequent trips to the bathroom and disrupted sleep. I recommend keeping a water bottle with you during the day to encourage frequent sipping while trying to minimize fluids an hour or two before bedtime,” Dr. Troxel says.

Remember that hydration needs may change as you age. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is to consume at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. However, according to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the number is much higher; they recommend about 15.5 cups (or 3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.  (Note: This includes other beverages like coffee and tea, as well as hydrating fruits like watermelon or cucumbers.)

That said, as we age, our body's capacity to retain hydration diminishes, as does the ability to recall feelings of thirst. As such, staying on top of one's hydration levels becomes all the more important. And adequate hydration doesn't only play a critical role in terms of sleep. It also helps regulate just about every bodily function and is a key factor in boosting longevity. As such, Dr. Troxel emphasizes the importance of staying well-hydrated and not just before bedtime.

Green Tea

According to Michael Breus, PhD (aka “The Sleep Doctor”), a leading sleep specialist and clinical psychologist, drinking green tea throughout the day can also help promote better sleep come nightfall. “I would say my number one choice in terms of sleep-boosting drinks would be green tea because of an active ingredient it contains called L-theanine,” Dr. Breus says. Though consuming green tea might sound counterintuitive due to its caffeine content, he reassures that its quantity is minimal—especially those made with lower caffeine content—and can help people focus better while awake. Research also shows that low-caffeine green tea intake can reduce stress in middle-aged individuals and improve their sleep quality.

What are drinks you shouldn’t consume before going to bed?

If you’re looking to get the best rest possible, there are a few drinks—namely, alcohol and high-caffeine beverages—that both sleep experts agree will disrupt your sleep quality. “Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are both powerful sleep disrupters, so it is best to limit intake of such beverages or avoid them completely, especially before bed,” Dr. Troxel says. Although some can confuse alcohol-related drowsiness with promoting good sleep, she explains that’s really not the case. “The idea of alcohol being a ‘nightcap’ to induce sleep is a total misnomer. Alcohol reduces the quality of sleep and leads to sleep fragmentation, particularly fragmenting REM or dream sleep, which is critical for memory and emotional well-being,” she says.

Additionally, highly caffeinated drinks might also affect the quality of your sleep. “Caffeine is a stimulant. Even if you are someone who believes caffeine doesn't affect your ability to sleep, it likely does affect your sleep quality and depth, so it’s best to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours,” says Dr. Troxel. So, you better get your morning brews in bright and early (but not too early).

Find yourself counting way too many sheep at night? These herbal remedies for sleep might help:

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