Healthy sleep is getting hard to come by, and the neuroscientist Matthew Walker’s landmark 2018 book ‘Why We Sleep’ really brought the importance of it into the wider public consciousness (if you haven’t read it, it is highly recommended, written in very non-sciency, accessible language).
A big part of a healthy sleep pattern is daily fluctuations in the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is suppressed in response to light, so a typical melatonin pattern will be very low throughout the day, and then increasing during the evening from around 8-9pm, when it signals sleepiness and prepares the body for bed. Modern light environments negatively impact on melatonin, so good sleep hygiene means we shouldn’t be staring at the phone 6-inches from our face while in bed, and try to use dim side lighting when preparing for bed.
The light issues aside, can you naturally increase your melatonin levels and support better sleep? Remember, melatonin as a supplement is not available over the counter in the UK. Turns out, tart cherries will help you navigate that problem. Cherries contain a range of compounds that are common to different berry and grape varieties, but unlike their counterparts, cherries also contain naturally high levels of melatonin.
A recent study found that drinking 30ml of a concentrated cherry juice, each serving equivalent to eating 70-100 cherries, in the morning and again with dinner, improved total sleep time and sleep efficiency in a group of healthy 25yo volunteers. The best part? The supplement they used was a commercially available product, Cherry Active, which is available online or in health food stores.
You’ll want to dilute the 30ml of concentrate with 200ml of water, FYI. But if sleep is something you struggle with, in addition to improving your sleep hygiene, consider adding some extra melatonin in the form of a food-based supplement
As always, stay fit and stay healthy.
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