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Contrary to popular opinion, a cup of hot cocoa isn’t really your best option for a bedtime beverage. Any source of caffeine too close to bedtime can keep your mind racing when you should be fast asleep. For a better bedtime routine, consider making these sleepy time smoothies. They are full of nutrients that help promote healthy sleep.
For top-quality sleep, you require something slightly different to your typical morning smoothie. A low-calorie, high-protein, stimulant-free smoothie is best before bedtime. And, you’ll want to include ingredients that help boost your natural levels of magnesium – the relaxation mineral – as well as melatonin, the neurohormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Cherries, almonds, and walnuts are good choices for supporting sleep, as they are some of the best food sources of melatonin. Turmeric and apple are also sources of melatonin, as are flax, fenugreek, and sunflower seeds. 
In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial involving 20 healthy men and women, researchers compared the effects of a placebo to tart cherry juice concentrate taken before bed for seven days. The results suggest that cherry concentrate increased the volunteers’ melatonin levels and supported better sleep duration and sleep quality.
Montmorency cherries are an especially good source of melatonin, but tart cherry juice is not to everyone’s taste. To get the benefits of cherries in a tasty bedtime beverage, make a cherry sleep smoothie using the following ingredients:
2 oz of tart cherry concentrate
¼ cup of walnuts
1 kiwi fruit or small banana
1 cup of soy milk or coconut milk
A handful of chamomile ice cubes
In one study involving 12 healthy male volunteers, those who consumed tropical fruit (banana) or fruit juices (orange and pineapple) had significant increases in the levels of melatonin in their blood, with the highest level seen two hours after consumption.
For a simple smoothie packed with magnesium and tryptophan (which the body converts into melatonin and serotonin), add the following to your blender:
1 small banana
1 cup of almond milk
1 tbsp of almond butter
½ cup of cooled chamomile tea
For convenience, consider making chamomile tea ice cubes earlier in the day. Then, when it comes to making your sleepy time smoothie, just pop a handful of these into a blender with the other ingredients above.
As well as providing magnesium, vitamin B6, and other nutrients needed to support sleep, a fruit smoothie before bed can cause a temporary spike in insulin, which helps get tryptophan into the brain.
Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT
Leigh Matthews is a health and wellness writer specializing in plant-based nutrition and environmental health.