Getting into the arms of Morpheus, no matter how much you relish it, is not as easy as it used to be. Gone are the days when it happened naturally, without even thinking about it. Forget about counting sheep. Ditto for drinking hot cocoa or chamomile and sniffing lavender. They all fail miserably to send you to snooze city. You keep tossing and turning and when you finally fall asleep, it’s time to get up and you feel wasted.
The good news is that a divine dark red liquid could change this… No, not Cabernet or Pinot noir! Forget alcohol and try tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus): a glass of this beautiful beverage in the morning and another at night, one hour before going to bed. That’s it. And no, it’s not a joke. It works. It has been tested scientifically and tried domestically by family and friends, from 17 to 87 years old. This delicious scarlet sweet and sour delicacy will help you nod off, slide serenely into Slumber Land and sleep soundly without waking up several times during the night.
So, what’s the secret of these tantalizing tart cherries? Quite a number of studies showed that the ruby red marvel promoted a longer (84 minutes more) and better night's sleep by boosting brain chemicals. It contains, among other goodies, high levels of melatonin – Morpheus’ best friend, critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle –, tryptophan, another of the sleep God’s pals, which induces sleepiness on its own as well as converting serotonin – aka the happy hormone – which is important for sleep regulation. The juice also stops the build-up of brain chemicals that are linked to poor sleep.
If you don’t like cherries, kiwi fruit might do the trick. They too are high in serotonin and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, all sleep-promoting, due to their role in reducing inflammation. One or two medium kiwis – preferably gold, higher in vitamin C –, before bed can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
According to scientists, saffron is a good sleep inducer too. Its high amount of anti-oxidative carotenoids helps save the serotonin in our system. Infuse a dozen pretty filaments in boiling water or milk for 20 minutes and drink at bedtime. Feel free to jazz it up with some cardamom and/or some nutmeg to make even more powerful.
Eating foods with a high glycemic index – such as brown rice, pulses, banana, dark chocolate – a few hours before bedtime also works. This is likely because carbohydrates too contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
Research also shows that taking probiotics might regulate melatonin production and, having plenty of lusty gut microbes to maintain steady levels of tryptophan in the body leads to more serotonin and quality sleep.