Best night-time drink

Host: Lyndsey Rodrigues
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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Are you having difficulty sleeping? What's the best drink to take before bed for a great night's sleep?

The traditional warm cup of milk at the end of a long day can help many of us unwind for bed. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts to hormones like melatonin and serotonin to promote sleep. Plus it's rich in calcium, which further assists the brain to use it.

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But if you "don't do" dairy, or even if you do, according to our nutritionist Janella Purcell, chamomile tea is a fabulous alternative. "It has a calming effect on your digestive tract and your whole being," Janella says.

So how does chamomile promote a great night's sleep?

Chamomile is called a "relaxing nervine" due to its ability to relax the nerves. Plus it's great for calming the stomach and/or digestive upsets such as gas and diarrhoea.

"It's an excellent natural anti-inflammatory and can sooth an overactive nervous system," Janella says.

What are the best ways to drink chamomile?

Chamomile comes from the daisy family and the dried flower heads are generally used in tea. You can drink it as loose leaf or tea bag form. You can even tuck a sachet of it under your pillow to further enhance a restful night's sleep.

The other great thing about chamomile is that it's virtually kilojoule- and fat-free. And for optimal results, it's best drunk 30 minutes before bedtime.

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For some really sweet dreams, drizzle a little honey in your tea as a small amount of glucose can help your brain turn off an alertness neurotransmitter called orexin. However, don't add too much honey as it could have the opposite effect.


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