A small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in June 2010 showed that consuming two 8-ounce servings of tart cherry juice during the day (once in the morning and once two hours before bedtime) resulted in a significant decrease in insomnia. The study was repeated in September 2010 in the Journals of Gerontology with similar results. This may be because cherries contain melatonin, an antioxidant that is known to help regulate our sleep cycle.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has a deliciously sweet, lemony taste. Steep lemon balm leaves in boiling water to make your own relaxation tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lemon balm has been used to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety since the Middle Ages.
This age-old cure for sleeplessness, said to be effective because milk is high in the amino acid tryptophan, reportedly has a calming effect on the brain and helps induce sleep. The effects may be purely psychological, though, as according to a New York Times article published in 2007, there is not enough evidence to prove that tryptophan is what causes sleepiness. Regardless, many people swear by this bedtime ritual.
Celestial Seasonings has been promoting its "Sleepytime" tea for years, noting that its blend of chamomile, lemongrass, spearmint, and linden flowers will help you wind down before hitting the pillow. Try the new "Sleepytime Vanilla" blend which adds natural vanilla flavor to give a sweet and smooth boost to the tea.
A blend of chamomile and lavender gives this tea a floral aroma that is sure to calm you down. According to the University of Michigan Medical Center, research has shown that the smell of lavender has a slight soothing and sedative effect and that chamomile may help reduce anxiety when ingested.
The British malt beverage Horlicks has been a popular sleep aid in Britain and India for years. Though Horlicks is hard to come by in the U.S., Ovaltine is essentially the same product. Malt is germinated cereal grain that has been dried out. The extract of malt is the main ingredient in flavored drinks like Ovaltine and Horlicks and is a good source of B vitamins, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and magnesium. This high mineral content is said to help relax your muscles and therefore help you wind down before heading to bed.