While vacationing in Florida at my parents’ house, bedtime came quickly the first night and out came the tart cherry juice. At first I thought my wild parents decided to enjoy another glass of red wine, which I wouldn’t put past them in their rowdy retirement lifestyle that now includes late-night line dancing and swims with alligators. My dad–nutrition questionner extraordinnaire–poured himself a 4-oz. glass. “I’ve had so much trouble sleeping lately and the last few nights with this magic elixir have been amazing!”
We all have trouble sleeping occasionally, and it’s true that foods naturally rich in the antioxidant and sleep hormone melatonin (tart cherries, bananas, tomatoes, oats, rice bran, sweet corn, wheatgrass juice, and ginger) or the amino acid and serotonin precursor tryptophan (soy, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, beans, and tofu) can help our noisy brains take it down a notch when our heads hit the pillow. But, how much sleepy food do we need and how many calories can we afford just to get a good night’s rest?
Since my first pregnancy nearly 7 years ago, I got in the habit of enjoying an open-face peanut butter or almond butter and banana sandwich at bedtime, to not only help prevent a ravenous 3 AM wake-up, but to calm my unruly hormonal brain which would otherwise start recounting 4th grade spelling bees. Since I now chase 3 young kids and dirty dishes from dawn till dusk, falling asleep at bedtime isn’t usually an issue. But on nights when I’m extra “busy,” could tart cherry juice work just as well as my PB&B? This week, I’ve tested it out:
Keep in mind this test was done on an 8-day vacation where the biggest stressor was deciding whether or not to take the morning swim in the backyard pool or the large club pool… but still, there was enough activity that winding down at the end of the day may have been tricky.
How I cherried: 4 oz Very Cherre 15-30 minutes before bed: 65 calories, 10.5 g sugar. Bedtime was 10-10:30 PM. I know it’s vacation, but the kids are up at 5:30 sometimes. Can you blame me?
What happened: Fell asleep within 5 minutes of head hitting the pillow, except the night I had the Dixie Chick’s “There’s Your Trouble” stuck in my head. That night it took 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. No trouble here!
So?: If falling asleep or staying asleep are potential problems, tart cherry juice is definitely worth a try. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re getting a hefty dose of antioxidants, some potential arthritis relief, and half your day’s supply of vitamin C in a low-cal, 4-oz glass. And, there’s a chance having the juice in the AM and the PM may work even better than solely @ bedtime (according to Dr. Weil).
This just in… you MUST try The Sleep Doctor’s Sleep Slim Smoothie courtesy of Dr. Oz. Sweet Dreams!
What other foods or drinks help YOU unwind?