nighttime chocolate treat to promote sleep + other sleep aids
disclaimer: I was sent some of the products mentioned for review, but this post remains my honest opinion. also because I truly believe everyone deserves fantastic sleep.
sleep. I've always had a love-hate relationship with it; sometimes I wish I could forgo it just because I have so much to do, but most of the time, it's frickin' magical and I can physically and mentally see the benefits when I get enough (or more than enough) sleep.
but with all the distractions of every day life (caffeine, exercise, blue light, social media, friends, etc.), it can be hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get quality sleep. here are 3 methods to help you out, because sleep (along with hydration) is a major key to good health.
routines to help promote sleep
bedtime routines do wonders to help you sleep.
if you have a set routine to wind down every night, then your mind and your body will know that it's time to relax and prepare to sleep. everybody is different, so it might take some experimenting to find what works best for you.
my roommate likes to light candles, turn off the lights, and relax in bed with some TV before she sleeps; that sounds like the coziest thing ever.
my old roommate (her picture is below) usually does some sort of face mask and follows her nighttime beauty routine.
for me, I'm still discovering my nighttime routine. lately, it's been a cup of hot tea, a book (or responding to comments on Instagram, but I have to set myself a time limit with that one because it leads to a black hole and suddenly it's 1 AM), and a nighttime snack (see below).
I also follow a set nighttime beauty routine: I take a shower (this helps raise your body temperature and then lower it, which makes you sleepy), wash my face, apply a face mask once or twice a week (it's one of the most relaxing things ever), wash my body with a scrub (I love sugar scrubs like GloNaturals Essentials tropical mango sugar body scrub or salt scrubs like Trader Joe's lavender salt scrub), and moisturize post-shower with either a natural body lotion or straight up oil, like Aura Cacia balancing jojoba skin care oil.
the one thing that I've been loving the most post-graduation is that I can light candles, which weren't allowed in the dorms. I lit my first candle ever the other night — I've been using the Aroma Naturals serenity soy vegan candle, which smells like lavender (can you tell I like lavender?).
the last thing to make my room cozy is a couple sprays of lavender room spray — I bought mine at Whole Foods, but this one looks like it works just as well!
some other common things that people like doing before bed:
- light stretching or yoga (I always felt that I could stay asleep forever during savasana, so this probably works)
- turning off all electronics (or using f.lux for laptops — I use this and swear by it — and the nighttime setting on iPhones to get rid of blue light )
- reading a book instead of TV (TV can quickly spiral into one episode after another)
- brushing your teeth right after dinner and getting ready for bed so that you have no excuse postpone getting ready (I've found that I sleep the latest when I'm already tired but don't want to move from the couch to get ready for bed and then actually go to bed)
- reflecting on the day (this puts you in a good mindset for the night)
- turning the AC on (your body falls and stays asleep better in cooler temperatures - ideally 60-67 degrees F)
foods to help promote sleep
if you can't sleep without a bedtime snack, you're not alone.
sometimes, if I eat an early dinner and don't have a super early bedtime, I feel myself getting hungry... and nothing is worse than waking up in the middle of the night hungry.
try this warm and comforting bowl as a pre-bedtime snack — it's packed full of nutrients that help you fall and stay asleep.
easy bedtime chocolate "mug" cake
note: the products I used are linked; the research as to why the particular food helps you sleep is also linked. enjoy!
- in a microwave-safe bowl:
- 1 banana (the magnesium and potassium in bananas help relax your muscles)
- 1/4 steamed sweet potato (easy-to-digest carbs like sweet potatoes and bananas also help you sleep)
- 1 tbsp collagen (I use FurtherFood - use PALEO10 at checkout for 10% off!)
- 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1 tbsp almond butter (it has protein so you don't wake up hungry)
- 1 tbsp cacao powder (cacao also contains magnesium)
- 1/3 packet enjoy life semi-sweet chocolate chips snack pack bag (or any other type of chocolate chip - this is about 2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon (this helps balance your blood sugar levels)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cacao nibs
- tbsp hemp hearts
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds (nuts have selenium, which helps you sleep; almonds also have magnesium - when your body's magnesium levels are too low, it's hard to stay asleep)
- 1 tbsp chopped walnuts (walnuts contain melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy)
in a microwave-safe bowl or mug (I personally like using mini baking ramekins like the one in the pic above — I stole it from my little sister), combine all the ingredients listed in that section. stir well.
microwave for 1:45. after 1 minute, check at 15 second intervals to make sure nothing's bubbling over. stir if necessary.
top with all the ingredients listed under "toppings," and enjoy with a cup of warm golden milk (or normal milk) or hot tea for extra comfort / sleepiness! (my favs: Yogi bedtime tea, which is a chamomile tea with lavender, or Gaia golden milk, which is a golden milk powder that I mix with 4 oz of boiling water and 4 oz of unsweetened almond milk.)
fun fact: if you want an extra extra dose of sleepiness, eat salmon for dinner - it also helps you sleep because it's full of omega-3 fatty acids! while you're at it, add some kale too. it's full of calcium, which helps your body manufacture tryptophan, which makes you sleepy. no wonder I'm always sleepy at night...
other recipes to help you sleep:
- 15-minute salmon and kale recipe for a quick dinner from my blog
- spring salmon and strawberry salad from my blog
- turmeric nourish bowl from my blog
- a bedtime smoothie for better sleep from hello glow
alternative methods to help promote sleep
sometimes, even with a nighttime routine and nighttime snack, you still find yourself tossing and turning. that's when it's time to step it up a bit. there are a variety of natural sleep pills to help you get better sleep; healy sleep is one brand that I tried and loved.
they're sleep pills uniquely designed for you and made from herbs — the pills are gluten free and formulated in non-gelatin capsules (yes, you'd be surprised how many pills aren't); if you're curious about the list of ingredients, check it out here.
truth be told, I'm not a person for medication. I never took medicine growing up (and still don't, unless it's a serious situation), because I believe that the body can heal itself in most cases, especially with the help of herbs. growing up in a Chinese household where my mother was very much into the traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, that was what I also learned to believe in — and they work.
healy is inspired by that traditional Chinese medicine, and that's mostly why I feel comfortable taking it — because otherwise, popping pills into your body is kinda uncomfortable. education is key, right?
what are some of your nighttime routines? what helps you get quality sleep? I'd love to hear!