Ah, the holidays. Trees and lights and parties as far as the eye can see. But as much fun as all of the festivities are, for some of us this time of year also brings with it a fair amount of stress and anxiety. All the planning, present buying, cooking and travel can take a toll on our well-being, causing disruptions in our eating patterns, greater susceptibility to sickness and, my personal favorite, a severe lack of sleep.
For me, sleep is one of my most important assets, so when it’s being disrupted by all the thoughts of the things I didn’t get accomplished throughout the day, or I wake up hungry in the middle of the night, it tends to wear me down.
There are many things I do to ensure I get a great night’s sleep – not eating after 8p, turning off my electronics 30 minutes before bed, magnesium and ginger tea, meditation, journaling to get all the ideas out of my head – but this one thing seems to trump them all: Golden Milk.
I was first turned onto a version of this at the Petit Ermitage here in LA (I believe they call theirs a Turmeric Latte), and I was immediately hooked. The snag, you have to be a guest of the hotel or a member of their private club to partake in the golden goodness. As luck would have it though, they printed the ingredients on the menu, and I memorized them so that I could recreate the magical concoction myself whenever I pleased.
The reason this is such an amazing pre-snooze beverage is in direct correlation to its sleep inducing ingredients (recipe and how-to below).
Let’s start with the ‘golden’ in our milk: turmeric. This anti-inflammatory, blood sugar lowering, detoxifying, immune boosting powerhouse, also helps to improve brain function and aids in the growth of new neurons. It’s yellow color comes from curcumin, which has been shown to lower cortisol levels and increase dopamine, putting our bodies and minds in a happy, stress-free state ideal for sleep.
This brings me to the next ingredient, coconut oil. The good fat in coconut oil helps to regulate your blood sugar as well. It also helps to burn body fat, and fuels your body and mind for repairing itself while you sleep.
For my milk, I use a combination of coconut and nut milk, typically almond, which contains melatonin, a sleep aid, and lends a super creamy texture. I also add a tablespoon of hydrolyzed, grass-fed collagen for a protein boost to the mix. The addition of a bit of protein helps with the body’s integral job of repairing muscles and tissue overnight.
The raw honey does more than just add a hint of sweetness. It raises insulin levels just enough to allow tryptophan to enter our brains more readily. It also provides a sustained dose of glucose for the liver, without which causes insulin to spike and the body to release cortisol. If you frequently wake up in the middle of the night, especially if you’re a woman, this release of cortisol is most likely the culprit. As a stress hormone, this is also why your brain begins to race, preventing you from falling back to sleep.
The last few ingredients aren’t only good for you, they are also delicious. Cinnamon and ginger both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and both help to lower blood sugar. Ginger also helps to aid in digestion, a common sleep disruptor. Black pepper makes the curcumin in the turmeric more bioavailable, helping the body to better absorb it in order to obtain all its healthy properties.
This amazing combination fuels the body and brain to perform all the vital functions it needs to while you sleep. And having all the the things it needs during the healing sleep process will prevent the brain or body from waking you up from something it’s lacking.
It’s also a perfect alternative to the sweet treats I crave at night. Try it out and let me know how much better you sleep.
1 cup almond milk
½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp hydrolyzed, grass-fed collagen powder
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp raw honey
Blend all ingredients, except oil, in a blender. Transfer to a pot and heat on medium, whisking in oil. Remove from heat once oil is melted and drink is steamy. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.