Everyone has their end-of-the-day routine. Whether you’re free from the moment you step inside your house after work or you have to wait until all the kids/dogs/cats go to bed before your moment of solace, you likely turn to your go-to activity to relax.
Watching TV, soaking in the tub, and meditating are some common picks, but there’s something you can enjoy while doing all three of those things that’ll also help you relax. Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you pair any or all of those activities with having a drink.
A drink at the end of the day isn’t at all uncommon. According to a book cited by the Washington Post, a drink a night will put you in the top 30% of American adult alcohol consumption per capita, while two drinks will bump you up to the top 20%.
A drink or two at night is supposed to help you relax at the end of a long day; but did you know that there’s one drink in particular that will do just that and provide you with countless other benefits?
A glass of red wine, a 5-ounce one to be exact, is believed to be tied to numerous health benefits. Red wine contains tannins, which help boost the body’s ability to absorb iron. Red wine also contains resveratrol, which has anti-aging properties for the skin and also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. According to Washington State University and Harvard Medical School, resveratrol also helps convert white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat that is easier for the body to burn off.
FYI, I am not a huge wine drinker. I enjoy sangria once in a while, but if I have to drink wine, I’ll pick white every time. The idea of a 5-ounce glass of red each night was a little daunting, but I didn’t think it was impossible. So I put myself to the test. Here’s how it worked out.
All the Wonderful Benefits of Red Wine
As the iconic Betty White points out here, there are a ton of ways red wine can improve your health. It contains resveratrol, which can boost health in a number of ways. It can be good for the heart, as well as blood circulation. It can help prevent breast and lung cancer.
With all these benefits in mind, I headed to the liquor store. I know very little about wine, but I know a lot of cabernet sauvignon drinkers, so I figured I’d start there.
The selfie was cute. The actual drinking was not. The smell of the wine I chose was a little overpowering. It was super bitter as well. So I choked down the contents of the glass and got into bed.
I fell asleep a little more easily than usual. So far, so good.
On my second night as a wine lady, I thought I’d have an easier time. I imagined knocking a glass back with all the slickness of Olivia Pope.
I also had a belly full of barbecued skirt steak, the remains of which linger in the background of this photo. I was ready to have my glass and get into bed.
There was just one problem. It didn’t go down any easier. In fact, it was a little harder now that I knew what to expect. That stressed me out, which was the opposite of the relaxed, healthy life I was supposed to be living and loving.
I went to my resident wine expert, my mom, for suggestions. She told me I needed a sweeter red, so I gifted her the cabernet sauvignon and hightailed it back to the liquor store.
Taste Test, Take 2
After wandering around the liquor store mumbling the pros and cons of different wines to myself, a nice liquor store guy came up to me and asked me if I needed help. I briefly explained my dilemma, and he handed me this.
For night three of my wine quest, I got myself all ready for a movie in bed. I poured my glass and already was much more pleased with the smell. I grabbed some popcorn in true Olivia Pope fashion and got myself settled in.
This one was much smoother. About 20 minutes after I finished my glass, I felt the slightest bit relaxed. I made it through another half hour of the movie before I knocked out. This is pretty impressive considering I settled in pretty early and am regularly known to stay up until at least 1 a.m.
I actually woke up refreshed!
I was pretty surprised to find I had more spring in my step the next morning. I can’t say for sure that it was the wine, as my body might’ve appreciated a normal, recommended amount of sleep. Still, the wine helped me get there, and that has to count for something.
Nights 4 to 6
The next few days featured a lot of ladylike swigs like the one above. I definitely found myself falling asleep more easily, but waking up earlier was throwing me off. I normally wake up between 8 and 10 a.m. Specifically, on wine nights five and six, I found myself waking up between 6 and 7 a.m. Naturally, I thought I had enough time to sleep a little longer — and then next thing I knew, it was 11 a.m. It was also the beginning of the week, which is tough to get through normally.
After two days of this, I woke up… grouchy. Couple this with the hormone monster dropping in on me, and I was tired. I was starting to think I wasn’t cut out for red wine, even though I was enjoying having an easier time falling asleep for a change.
Day 7: Mind Over Matter
On the last day, I decided I needed to adjust my attitude. I was never going to be able to relax if I kept worrying about what would happen the next morning, or timing how quickly I fell asleep, or the million other things that are on my mind from day to day.
With this in mind, I set out to give myself the perfect wine night. Wine and port wine cheese (aka wine with winey cheese) as a nightcap after a bubble bath.
My mind-over-matter attitude proved to be a success! I still fell asleep earlier, and I woke up refreshed. I was also surprised I wasn’t in pain. I expected a combination of PMS and joint pain to give me a rough mid-week. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my last wine night was a great success.
All in all, there were a few differences I noticed during my wine week. My sleep saw a little bit of improvement. Falling asleep earlier is a blessing for an insomniac like myself, but I’m not sure if falling asleep earlier is worth waking up with a too-much-sleep hangover. I also felt like I tossed and turned a little more than usual, but it’s also been humid and disgusting out, so that could have had something to do with it as well.
Another thing I noticed was that my general aches and pains seemed quelled during that week. Between a bad back and a herniated disc in my neck, this is a rarity. I had a more active week than usual, and when the aches and pains don’t get me, the headaches often do. This was a major concern going into this little experiment. As a cluster headache sufferer, I’m usually working overtime to prevent headaches from hitting. The jury is out on if alcohol is a trigger, but I’ve heard wine and headaches go hand in hand. I didn’t have any abnormal headache activity, which I consider a victory.
Finally, there was the benefit I didn’t expect. I’ve been combating some pretty dry skin along the edges of my face lately. I found my skin was significantly less dry during my wine week. That was one less
I think the key to getting your glass of wine before bed to work for you is definitely finding the right wine. You’ll reap the benefits as long as it’s red, but you want to actually enjoy the experience, too. While I don’t know if I’ll go all-in and add this to my nightly routine, it’s definitely something I can get behind doing on a nice pampered night in.