Except for maybe Santa Claus and Donald Trump, most of us are actually trying to get some sleep this holiday season. But it’s not always easy. Despite the implicit “joy” of the holidays, there’s often a bit more stress than usual this time of year, whether it’s end-of-the-year job-stress, New Year’s date anxiety, or the classic “Oh god is that really my checking account balance?” angst.
And then there are folks who can’t sleep any time of year, insomniacs and the chronically sleep-impaired who struggle to get shut-eye whether it’s holiday season, tax season, or open bar wedding season. For all the sleep deprived out there, there may be an unlikely (possible) solution: beer.
Okay, not beer specifically, or even drinking beer, but the hops that go into beer production. Hops contain compounds, including dimethylvinyl carbine, that may help induce sleep. In fact, there’s something called “hop picker fatigue” that’s supposedly caused by the transfer of fresh hop resins (and inhalation of volatile aromatic compounds) as hop pickers work the fields.
Hops have been used in folk sleep remedies for centuries, and can be found in extract and pill form in health food stores. But maybe the simplest—and easiest—way to see if hops can help you hit the hay is by washing your pillowcase in beer. No, we don’t mean dumping a nice 300 thread-count pillowcase into a bathtub of Miller High Life. What you’ll want for this is a much hoppier beer, like a West Coast style IPA. And even then, you don’t need full submersion. Just add a bit of IPA to the water in your washing machine (or a small tub with water, since you’re probably not doing a load of IPA wash). Wash and dry as usual and, ideally, the hops will have left behind some of their sleep-inducing magic.
This method doesn’t guarantee sleep*, but it’s an interesting experiment for both beer and sleep lovers out there. Worst case scenario, you get to drink the rest of an IPA while doing the laundry. If you weren’t doing that already.
*There’s also a chance that fresher hops—and not pellets—with more of the resinous oils still intact will have a more powerful impact on your sleep. It does seem reasonable that putting an IPA even through the Gentle Cycle will muck with those aromatic compounds, but again, it’s an easy experiment. If you have a brewer supply store nearby, or access to hops, you can always try to buy some fresh hops and stuff your pillow. Worst case scenario here, you’ll dream of beer.