Sleepy Time Mocktail & Other Recipes
By Alicia Bigelow

Remedies for a cup-of-calm

In our fast-paced world with 24/7 access to technology and stimulation, finding ways to disconnect and unwind can be challenging. Awareness is growing around the true health risks (rather than benefits) of casual drinking, leaving “wine moms” and others in need of healthier ways to wind down, practice true self-care, and replenish reserves. This has led to an explosion  of a new category of beverages: zero-proof cocktails, also known as mocktails.

Whether you’re exploring new ways to unwind without alcohol or want  to incorporate more restorative practices in your life, herbal mocktails can be a creative, nutritious, and satisfying way to bolster well-being and calm the nerves.

The Sleepy Time Mocktail

Commonly known as the Sleepy Girl Mocktail, this drink is a wonderful remedy for people of all genders. This concoction has recently garnered attention on platforms like TikTok and even earned a spotlight in the New York Times. It contains a simple combination of cherry juice, magnesium, and sparkling or still water. 

How it works:

Tart Cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night, sends sleepytime signals to the body, making  us feel drowsy and ready to curl up in bed. Melatonin also contains antioxidants which are anti-inflammatory and can promote relaxation. (1)

Magnesium supports relaxation by increasing the production of melatonin and GABA (a calming neurotransmitter). It also decreases the stress hormone cortisol (2)

Recipe:

Mix ¼-½ cup of tart cherry juice with plain or flavored seltzer (lemon or lime is tasty!) or still water. Add a scoop of magnesium powder (approx 250-400 mg of magnesium, I like the glycinate form because it is most calming) Stir it up and enjoy!

Here’s my spin: I like to add cherries to organic apple cider vinegar to make a cherry shrub, as I discuss in my video here. I use my homemade cherry shrub instead of cherry juice, using the portions as explained above. 

Not into cherries? No problem! Read on for other recipes that can help you catch some ZZZ’s.

Ready to mix it up?

Give these other tasty bedtime drinks a try!

Calming Lavender Chamomile Moon Milk

How it works:

Chamomile and lavender contain bioactive compounds. Known for their anxiolytic (anxiety-soothing) and sedative qualities, chamomile and lavender shift us from  the “fight or flight” response to a state of rest and relaxation.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): binds to GABA receptors and supports the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. 

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): aromatic compounds interact with neural pathways to alleviate stress and improve mood. 

Recipe:

  • 1 chamomile tea bag
  • 1 tsp of lavender flowers
  • Raw local honey or stevia, to taste
  • 8-9 oz milk or milk alternative
  • Directions:

Boil 4 oz of water and pour over a chamomile tea bag. While that is steeping, pour milk into a pan, add lavender flowers and heat gently until milk starts to bubble. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until lavender flavor is imparted into the milk. Strain out lavender flowers.

Combine milk, tea, and honey – and enjoy!

,,Golden Kava Milk

An herbal twist on the traditional Golden Milk, inspired by the Herbal Wise Guy, Dr. Glen Nagel.

How it works:

Turmeric (Curcuma longa): anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, and mood enhancing (4, 5)

Kava kava (Piper methysticum): sedative and euphoriant, and some claim even entheogenic (mind-altering) effects.(3) 

Safety note: Do not mix kava with alcoholic beverages. Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery after consuming kava.

  • 2 cups coconut milk (or dairy or dairy-free alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon kava kava root powder or 1 dropperful kava kava extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional additions: a pinch of black pepper, ginger, cardamom, or vanilla extract; sweeteners such as pineapple juice, maple syrup, or honey

Recipe:

For a warm beverage: Combine ingredients in a pan and warm gently over low-medium heat,  infusing the herbs into the milk for 3-5 minutes

For a cold treat: Combine all ingredients in a blender and serve cold.

References & Notes

If you want to take mixology to another level, check out this recipe for an Herbal Nightcap Mocktail, which includes the aforementioned chamomile and lavender, and includes the addition of lemon balm and coriander (6).

As always, consult with your health provider to discuss if these are right for you. Wishing you health, happiness, and creative exploration of mixing mocktails!

~ Dr. Ali

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6057895
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703169/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35763396/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8717583/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7728608/ 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698858/