Sleep is a fickle mistress. So much so that the Centers for Disease Control have labeled it a public health problem. The world is a busy and chaotic place making it hard to quiet the mind, especially enough to sleep and get the rest that you so desperately need. Overactive thoughts and the yearning to unwind after a stressful day have caused many people to count on a nightcap to help them relax. From wine to whiskey, alcohol seems to be the old faithful when it comes to this task. While this can be effective for some, there are better options.
Alcohol may seem like a trusty tool to help you to fall to sleep, but researchers have found the kind of sleep you get less than ideal. Google the phrase “alcohol and sleep” and you will get inundated with results that explain the correlation between the perception and reality of this common myth. The fact of the matter is, alcohol may make you drowsy enough for sleep, but it impedes rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This form of deep sleep is essential for your body to repair and relax. It is also the segment of your sleep when dreaming happens. Without reaching this critical state, your body may feel just as tired as if you hadn’t had a wink of shuteye. The more you drink, the worse of an impact it has on your sleep cycle.
Enter your nightly cocktail replacement: Tart cherry juice. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice can be a useful sleep aid. The reason being it is naturally high in melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep in the body. It also is a source of tryptophan, the same amino acid found in turkey that makes everyone sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Analyses have proven that a cup of the stuff twice daily can help you sleep 90 more solid minutes a night!
The benefits of this tasty fruit juice don’t stop there. Not only does tart cherry juice help you sleep better, but it has been linked to easing pain and lowering inflammation. Research has even found it can reduce blood pressure and protect brain function. Sleeping and feeling better; what more could you ask? Instead of hangovers, dehydration, and straining your poor liver, you can make this swap and increase your overall health at the same time.
If drinking all that cherry juice sounds daunting, try mixing it in with other juices or in smoothies. You can also buy dried tart cherries for snacking at some health food stores. Still sound unappetizing? With all the recent findings, there are some supplemental forms on the market to make the task more palatable. Just make sure you get it 100% pure to reap the benefits of these potent little fruits.
So do yourself a favor and try it out. Put the cocktail shaker away for a little while and see if this does the trick. Your body will thank you in the long run.