When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24
Have you ever heard of Moon Milk? That's okay, neither had I.
While perusing Pinterest for food photography inspiration last week (there was lots of oohing and ahhing going on of course!) I discovered the beauty and simplicity of MOON MILK. Why hadn't I thought of this before? I love warm milk and have been flavoring mine with everything from lavender and vanilla to nutmeg and honey for years! But since I sleep very well it hadn't actually occured to me to add things for the purpose of putting people to sleep at the end of the day. Genius. Seriously. The possibilities are endless...
Here's my first attempt and oh my goodness, it's like therapy in a cup for anyone who loves Autumn like me! I decided to keep it simple and homey for those who are up at midnight googling a way to fall aseep. Most people with a well stocked kitchen should have a lot of these ingredients on hand. (Except for maybe the star anise, but this should still help you catch some Zs even without it!) Here's why....
Dairy Milk contains tryptophan that turns into seratonin a neurotransmitter that helps modulate sleep and affects overall mood and anxiety levels." And the calcium that helps the brain use tryptophan correctly helping you reach REM sleep. This works best when consumed with magnesium (which we'll talk about later) some carbs and a little protein and all bases are covered in this recipe! Dairy milk is my favorite for this but I have also made this with almond milk and it is delicious. And-lucky for us God thought of everything, nuts and whole grains also contain tryptophan so feel free to choose the milk of your choice!
Cinnamon- From antioxidant to antibacterial and more, the benefits of cinnamon are impressive, but how does it help us sleep? Cinnamon is a powerhouse of both Calcium AND Magnesium and like I mentioned earlier-they work best when taken together! While REM sleep relies on Calcium, Magnesium actually induces sleep which for many, is where the problem starts.
Ginger- If your sleep troubles are due to anxiety, ginger may be exactly what you've been looking for. According to a study published in 2010 in "Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry" there are claims that ginger binds to some of our serotonin receptors.
Cloves- I debated on whether or not to put cloves in this recipe because the verdict on if they help with sleep is still out. People recommend cloves for sleep, however, I havent really found much to back up why. I do know that it relives inflammation and pain and since bodily pain is what keeps many awake and cloves taste amazing with pumpkin, I added it! And am so glad I did.
Nutmeg- Helps calm your mind if you struggle with racing thoughts, is a natural muscle relaxant, inhibits the release of stress hormones and contains more of the beneficial magnesium that we talked about earlier.
Star Anise- Not everyone is a fan of the licorice flavor of star anise but it is a favorite of mine and serves to bring out the natural sweetness of the pumpkin. It is considered a mild sedative and is anti-inflammatory which will help if your sleep is typically disrupted by joint pain!
Technically, pumpkin seeds help us sleep because they contain tryptophan, but pumpkin seed spice just isn't quite as appealing, am I right? Pumpkin puree is high in fiber though so you can rest easy knowing youre doing your heart some good!
"A teaspoon of honey before bed is just what the doctor ordered. The sweet liquid will restock the liver with the glycogen needed to prevent the crisis trigger from the brain. Honey's natural sugars also slightly raise insulin, allowing tryptophan to enter the brain."
"The intestinal microbiome produces and releases many of the same sleep-influencing neurotransmitters—dopamine, serotonin, and GABA among them—that are also produced by the brain. Melatonin is produced in the gut as well as the brain." Source: TheSleepDoctor
This is amazing and just barely scratches the surface of all there is to learn about probiotics, gut health and sleep. What studies have shown is that lack of sleep effects our gut health, and poor gut health affects our sleep-so a vicious cycle ensues. I will save this topic hopefully for another blog post, for now, don't skip the probiotic. It's important for so much more, sleep is just the beginning! This is the one I use. It is flavorless and includes a prebiotic to ensure that it continues to thrive once in your gut! It's the BEST! (Use the first green bar to check out and get the membership discount of 40% off forever without having to pay any fees, ever!)