Getting a good night’s sleep is important and for more reasons than you think. Experts have said that sleep deprivation played a role in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Staten Island ferry crash, and the Three-Mile Island nuclear meltdown. It’s also been linked to poor driving. One test showed drowsy drivers became 10x worse at driving and more erratic. Less than six hours of sleep at night can leave your brain impaired which makes everyday tasks much more difficult.
More side effects include:
- Slow reaction time
- Long-term and short-term cognition suffers
- Memory and learning declines
- Emotions are heightened
- Immune function and health deteriorates
Studies have shown that eight hours of sleep is the optimal amount, but that does not include eight hours in bed. It takes 15-30 minutes to fall asleep (usually), and you can wake in the middle of the night multiple times.
A lack of sleep has also been linked to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Sometimes falling asleep is hard because we work late, have a restless brain, or for seemingly no reason. So how do we get more sleep when falling asleep at night seems impossible?
Tart cherry juice.
Research from Louisiana State University found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily led to an extra 90 minutes of sleep at night. The researchers had seven insomniacs drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks without the cherry juice. Drinking the juice resulted in increased sleep at night compared to the placebo. The participants napped less, slept longer, and spent more time in bed asleep.
Cherry juice is a great natural source of melatonin (the hormone that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle) and tryptophan. The red pigments in cherry juice also contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan, which means it stays in the body longer.
Drinking organic cherry juice is a great way to keep yourself asleep throughout the evening, but there is more you can do. Try to avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening at least an hour before bed. Get some sun in the morning and 30 minutes of bright sun exposure mid-day (which could mean using your break to take a nice walk outside). This exposure helps your system reset itself making you less likely to be confused by weaker light during the night Sleeping in a dark room is helpful because light can disrupt your body’s internal clock. Installing a low wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb as your source of light at night, or if you’d like, install a night light in your hallways and bathrooms to navigate.
If you want to know more about your sleeping patterns, use a fitness tracker or a phone app. They’re great for letting you know exactly how long you slept, slept restlessly, or got up. You may think you’re getting enough sleep, but you may be horribly mistaken.
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