I Tried 10 Different Sleepytime Drinks & This Is The Best One

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I Tried 10 Different Sleepytime DrinksAlison Dominguez

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There are things I do well, but sleeping is not one of them. I either toss and turn for hours or fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, only to spring awake at 4 a.m. Given my sleep challenges, I couldn’t say yes fast enough when my editor asked me to test out new sleep-promoting products, as well as a few old standbys, like warm milk.

To conduct the test, I consumed one serving of each drink approximately one hour before going to sleep. I rated the drinks based on taste, how effective they were at lulling me asleep, and whether they kept me conked out all night (or in one case, for a good chunk of the afternoon).

I also checked in with sleep experts to see what they thought about these drinks. Spoiler: They aren’t fans.

“Many dietary supplements are marketed for insomnia, but there’s not a lot of evidence to support their effectiveness,” says Josna Adusumilli, MD, Neurologist and Sleep Medicine Physician at Harvard Medical School. She warns that they are not FDA regulated and may have side effects or interact with other medications that you’re taking. I found that a few of these drinks did work for me, and it wasn’t necessarily the ones that I expected. Here’s how they stacked up.

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

a book with a bear on it

Pleasant and soothing. I don’t care for tea, even when it’s iced and sweetened with heaping tablespoons of sugar. But Celestial Seasoning’s iconic tea with the bear on the label wasn’t bad. It tastes like warm, unsweetened apple cider with a faintly minty aftertaste. Its main ingredient, chamomile, is a sedative that acts as a tranquilizer and sleep-inducer, and Celestial Seasonings throws in spearmint and lemongrass for extra sedation. Maybe the ritual of boiling the water, steeping the tea bag, and wrapping my hands around the warm mug was more soothing than the tea itself. But either way, it did make me feel sort of calm and drowsy. I made it past the 4 a.m. mark. So that’s a win in my book. $5.79 for a box of 20 teabags.

The Sleepy Girl Mocktail

trend drink
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Doesn’t live up to the hype. I was hopeful when I first saw influencers on TikTok stirring together tart cherry juice, seltzer, and a scoop of magnesium, and swearing it makes them sleep like a baby. In theory, this drink has a lot going for it. Cherry juice contains the amino acid tryptophan and the hormone melatonin, and some research indicates it improves sleep. Magnesium affects the benzodiazepine receptor in the brain, which is the same receptor used by anti-anxiety and sleep meds.

Richard Schwab, MD, chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, points out that the Sleepy Girl Mocktail also contains a lot of sugar, which is not good before bed. I found the Sleepy Girl Mocktail to be fizzy, delicious, and reminiscent of a vodka cranberry, but it didn’t make this girl sleepy. It actually made me feel a little jittery and weird, which was surprising given all the hype online. “Insomnia is a highly personal disorder, meaning that what works for one person may not work for another,” says Adusumilli.

Ashwagandha Tea

close up on dried ashwaganda roots used for herbal tea, bunjako island, mpigi district, uganda
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I could hardly operate my electric toothbrush, let alone a motor vehicle, after one cup. In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “wet horse” because that’s what this Indian herb supposedly smells like. But I am pleased to report that in tea bag form, the smell is subtle and earthy. I used Handpick's ashwagandha tea, and the package suggested adding a squeeze of lemon to cut the tea’s bitterness, which I did, and the resulting flavor was mild. It tasted like…nothing.

According to the National Institute of Health, there is some evidence that ashwagandha has a positive impact on sleep, and I have to agree. While sipping my cup of tea one afternoon, I started to feel woozy to the point I was struggling to hold a conversation, and then enjoyed a long nap. $23.99 for 100 teabags.

Low-Fat Warm Milk

milk in a glass
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On par with counting sheep. The OG of bedtime drinks, warm milk has been being served up by doting mothers for decades. Though, come to think of it, I don’t recall my own mother ever boiling milk for me. Some experts suggest that the effects of warm milk are purely nostalgic, that drinking it wraps you in the warm embrace of childhood, sending you off to lala land.

But there is some research to back up this old-school sleep aid: one study showed that drinking warm milk and honey improved sleep in a group of hospital patients. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that has been show to boost mood and induce sleepiness. Those hospital patients seemed to have more luck with warm milk than I did, however. I found it pleasingly creamy and comforting, but it didn’t make me particularly sleepy.

Tru Dream Seltzer


Puts the "sweet" in sweet dreams. The sleek bottle carries a disclaimer to avoid using the product while drinking alcohol, driving, or operating machinery, so I was sure to test the seltzer on a night that I wasn’t going out for dinner or driving my kids to hockey. This turned out to be a wise move. Tru Dream combines cherry juice with chamomile (check and check), and has an intensely sweet taste that reminded me of Smarties. It contains sugar substitutes—erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit extract—which I try to avoid, but I went for it anyway. At first, nothing happened, but then after about 15 minutes a pleasant sedation effect set in, my eyes started closing…and the next thing I knew, my morning alarm was going off. $35 for a 12-pack.

Almond Milk

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Delicious but didn’t make me drowsy. Almond milk made this list because almonds contain melatonin, magnesium and zinc—all which have been associated with sleepiness. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original was smooth and creamy with a faint almond flavor, and could easily take the place of dessert (for a mere 60 calories per serving). I also appreciated that it doesn’t require any mixing or heating because making these drinks was putting real dent in my bedtime routine. The only downside is that it didn’t make me feel tired.

Valerian Root Tea


Not my cup of tea, but not bad. The valerian plant is native to Asia and Europe and found in some areas of North America, and its root is used for medicinal purposes, including treating insomnia. Study results are mixed and inconclusive, but a meta-analysis showed that it may help improve sleep quality. Handpick's valerian teabags come in a resealable sack with a cute bamboo tea bag tong, and the scent is so strong that you can smell it through the bag.

Give the pungent scent, I was prepared to hate the flavor. But after I generously sprinkled in some sugar (Dr. Schwab would not be happy), it was mild enough to finish. What I noticed most was the minty aftertaste; in addition to valerian, the ingredient list includes peppermint, lemongrass, licorice, and cardamom. I didn’t make me drowsy, but I slept well and woke up feeling refreshed. One thing to keep in mind: Dr. Adusumilli says that valerian root can be associated with liver injury in some cases, so check with your doctor before drinking beverages containing valerian. $17.99 for 50 tea bags.

Red Wine

close up of a glass of red wine on a bar counter
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Made me slightly sleepy…for a while. Wine is sneaky. I found that drinking Pinot Noir before bed helped me fall asleep, but then I was jolted awake later in the night. I emailed Dr. Schwab to find out why. “Alcohol causes sleep fragmentation and is definitely not good for sleep. It may help you to fall asleep but then will fragment your sleep and prevent you from reaching deeper stages of sleep which is bad,” he said. There are plenty of studies to back this up, most notably one published in JMIR Mental Health which showed that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol decreased sleep quality by 9.3 percent.

I noticed that the red wine made me feel groggier than my usual white wine, which is apparently a documented phenomenon, although no one knows exactly why red wine is more of downer. Either way, given my sleep issues, I will try to avoid both before bed. Easier said than done.

Blossom Vanilla Lavender Sleep Latte

a hand holding a glass of milk next to a box of milk

Pretty effective, if you can get past the weird taste. Tucked in a pretty pale purple package, Blossom's sleep latte smells and tastes like a spa. Like hand cream, to be exact. If you can get past the strong lavender taste, this powder blend of oat milk powder, valerian, l-theanine, valerian root, GABA (a neurotransmitter), and lavender transforms into a pleasant frothy latte drink when mixed with eight ounces of water (you can drink it iced or room temp). While it made my brain feel slightly fuzzy, I still was able to stay up long enough to finish another episode of Love Is Blind. $35 for a 10-serving pack.

Liquid IV Sleep Multiplier

liquid iv sleep multiplier
Liquid IV

Up there with Ambien. This is my top pick for effectiveness. Liquid IV is most often used to recharge after intense activity, like running in hot weather. But their Sleep Multiplier is formulated to have the exact opposite effect. In addition to melatonin, l-theanine (an amino acid), and valerian, the Sleep Multiplier contains their patented Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) delivery system that helps its various powders work fast—and this stuff is no joke. Within minutes of mixing the little pack of powder into a glass of water and sipping the pale yellow, blueberry-flavored liquid, I was pretty much knocked out. $23.99 for a pack of ten.

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