Sleepy Drinks: Are They Worth The Hype?

Sleepy mocktails are popping up all over social media, but do they actually work? Let’s look at the science behind these trending drinks.

woman-driking-tea-covered-up-at-bed
by
Rebecca Washuta
— Signos
MS, CNS, LDN
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Reviewed by

Rebecca Washuta
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
March 20, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

If you find it hard to fall asleep, have trouble staying asleep, or wake up feeling groggy, you’re not alone. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, approximately 33% of US adults (more than 80 million people) are not getting the recommended amount of sleep they need for optimal health.1 Inadequate sleep can impact everything from your mood, appetite, blood sugar, and ability to focus, making it a critical component of your overall health and quality of life.

Given these trends, it’s not surprising that people are reaching for creative solutions to help them catch some shut-eye. The latest trending viral videos on TikTok and other social media platforms feature “sleepy drinks.” These mocktails are consumed just before bed and are supposed to help you get better sleep. But do they actually work? 

In this article, we’ll dive into the sleepy drink trend and break down the science behind the ingredients, so you can decide if you want to give it a try. 

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Bedtime Routines

Let’s first talk about the practice of having a regular bedtime routine (like drinking a sleepytime mocktail every night before bed). Good sleeping habits like going to bed at the same time every night, keeping the lights dim before bed, and lowering the temperature of your room can all help improve the quality of your sleep. Additionally, having small rituals that help you relax, like enjoying a mocktail or cup of herbal tea every evening, are a great way to wind down after a busy day. Establishing a consistent pre-bedtime routine can help promote relaxation and better sleep, regardless of what's in your beverage of choice. So is it the act of having any drink each night that’s created this viral trend, or do the ingredients themselves improve sleep? Let’s find out!

What’s in a Sleepy Drink?

The ingredients in these bedtime mocktails are variations of the following recipe:

  • ½ cup tart cherry juice
  • Magnesium powder
  • ½ cup sparkling water
  • Ice

How Do These Ingredients Promote Sleep?

Woman drinking a cup of tea at bed

Let’s evaluate the science behind all of these ingredients and how they may promote (or potentially hinder) a good night’s sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

Antioxidants

Tart cherries are high in the phytonutrients like anthocyanins and flavonols, which act as powerful antioxidants in the body.2 Studies have shown that regular consumption of tart cherry juice can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and offer cardioprotective effects.3, 4 Tart cherry juice is particularly helpful in protecting muscle function, reducing soreness, and improving recovery after exercise.5 

Experts attribute these effects to the high antioxidant content of tart cherry juice. While these health benefits don’t necessarily correlate with improved quality of sleep, it makes sense that experiencing less soreness and overall inflammation could allow you to sleep more comfortably.

Melatonin

Tart cherries are also rich in melatonin.6 Melatonin is a natural compound that’s produced in our bodies that helps regulate our sleep and wake cycle. Not all cherries contain equal amounts of melatonin, however. Compared to sweet cherries, Montmorency tart cherries contain about six times more melatonin.6 This high melatonin content in the juice may translate to better sleep.

Sugar

An 8 oz glass of tart cherry juice contains approximately 30g (or 7 teaspoons) of sugar. Unlike the whole fruit, fruit juice provides no fiber, which means the sugar will be absorbed more quickly and will likely spike your blood sugar. Research has shown that people with higher blood sugar levels experience poorer sleep.7 

Take Away

There have been a few studies examining the relationship between tart cherries and sleep that have convincing results, but the sample size (or number of participants) in each study was small, making the findings less reliable. One study conducted with 20 subjects found that drinking tart cherry juice improved sleep quality and sleep efficiency.8 

Another study with 10 participants found that consumption of a tart cherry product reduced the number of times subjects woke up, and reduced the amount of time it took them to fall asleep.9 Considering the high amount of sugar in tart cherry juice, and that its benefits on sleep are likely due to melatonin, you may want to consider taking a melatonin supplement instead.

Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of processes in the body, but it’s estimated that over 50% of adults are magnesium deficient.10 When obtaining magnesium through a balanced diet isn’t enough, magnesium supplements can be very helpful. There are many different types of magnesium, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right kind. Below are some of the most common forms of magnesium:

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide can be helpful for relieving headaches, migraines, and constipation.11 However, this form isn’t absorbed as easily as other types of magnesium. 

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate can help alleviate constipation, and when taken regularly has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar.12

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate can be found in oral supplements or as a powder known as epsom salt. This form of magnesium can help relieve muscle soreness, and promote relaxation. 

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate can reduce anxiety, relax muscles, and improve sleep.13 This type of magnesium is easily absorbed in the body, and is likely the best choice for making a sleepytime mocktail. 

Take Away

Magnesium supplementation is beneficial for most people considering the high prevalence of deficiency. Interestingly, tart cherries contain the mineral zinc, which can interfere with you body’s ability to absorb magnesium.14 For this reason, you may be better off taking a magnesium supplement on its own, rather than adding it to a sleepytime mocktail. 

Overall, it seems like this sleepy drink trend has some benefits, but if you’re trying to watch your weight, or reduce your sugar intake, you’re probably better off skipping the nightcap and working with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate supplement to take instead. 

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Related: </strong><a href="sleep-and-weight-loss">10 Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep and Weight Loss Efforts</a>.</p>

Learn More About the Impact of Blood Sugar on Overall Health With Signos’ Expert Advice.

Signos incorporates cutting-edge research and the proven power of continuous glucose monitoring to help you lose weight and reach your health goals. Not sure if Signos is right for you? Take this quiz to find out! Interested in learning more about nutrition and healthy eating habits? Check out more articles on our blog.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="barley-tea-benefits">6 Amazing Health Benefits of Barley Tea</a>.</p>

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References

About the author

Rebecca Washuta is a licensed dietitian with degrees in neuroscience and nutrition and helped individuals develop long-term health habits and achieve various wellness goals.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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