ICYMI, a sleep specialist recently shared with us that a nightcap made with alcohol really won’t do you any favors when it comes to getting a good night’s rest.
That’s because alcohol can negatively disrupt sleep quality. “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,” 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, previously shared with Well+Good.
That being said, drinking a nightcap—aka any drink taken shortly before bedtime—sans booze can have solid Z-catching benefits... so long as it's made with the right ingredients. On the latest episode of Plant-Based, Rachelle Robinett, a certified herbalist and the founder of Supernatural, shows us how to make the perfect sleep-inducing lavender nightcap latte—and it's a delicious, dream-worthy medley of calming foods.
The herbalist's favorite calming ingredients
In the episode, Robinett explains that it’s important to make a nightcap with soothing ingredients that are also considered nervine herbs, like lavender. “Lavender is one of my favorite nervine herbs," she says. "Nervine means an herb that loves your nervous system. So these are calming ingredients; some are great for sleep, and others are great for daytime use," she says.
According to Robinett, lavender is especially great for inducing a sense of calm without that immediate drowsiness. "It’s used for brain function, things like focus, for supporting mood, and specifically for sleep; we found that lavender helps improve sleep latency. Sleep latency is the amount of time it takes for us to fall asleep, and lavender also improves sleep quality,” Robinett says.
For the perfect nervine-friendly drink, Robinett also includes other ingredients that can promote relaxation any time of the day, including chamomile, rose, linden, motherwort, oat, catnip, and valerian root.
How to make this lavender nightcap latte
To make this delicious lavender nightcap latte, Robinett combines six simple ingredients together to make the most soothing drink to help you unwind before bed (or anytime). She starts by brewing an herbal tea made with the aforementioned nervine herbs, primarily lavender. Robinett then froths her favorite alt-milk with a few drops of a sugar alternative, vanilla, and butterfly pea powder for that luscious cloud-like latte effect. Swoon.
FYI: Aside from tasting like a blissful bouquet, this ultra-calming drink will help fight inflammation with each and every sip, thanks to the butterfly pea powder that’s loaded with antioxidants.
To learn more about the benefits of drinking this nervine herb lavender nightcap latte and how it can help promote restful sleep, check out the full episode.
Lavender nightcap latte recipe
Yields 1 latte
1/2 cup lavender herbal tea
1 cup full-fat alternative milk
8 drops liquid stevia
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp butterfly pea powder
2 lavender sprigs for garnishing, optional
1. Brew lavender herbal tea and set it aside.
2. In a milk frother, froth the milk, stevia, vanilla extract, and butterfly pea powder until light and fluffy.
3. Assemble the drink by adding the herbal tea to a large mug. Then, carefully pour the frothy milk overtop. Garnish with lavender sprigs and serve immediately.
This herbal tea will help calm you for a great night's sleep:
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