Sleep loss can have a wide-range of causes, such as stress and taking work home, and for those affected, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Regular poor sleep can be more than an inconvenience, however, as regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy, notes the NHS. Fortunately, making simple tweaks to your lifestyle can aid sleep loss, and diet plays an essential role in restoring sleep health.
According to The Sleep Council, cherry juice contains sleep inducing properties: “Cherries are naturally high in melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleep and regulates your internal clock.”
The health body says to opt for tart cherries as they contain high amounts of melatonin, and steer clear of supermarket cherry juice, which is loaded with sugar.
Evidence suggests consuming more sugar can lead to restless, disrupted sleep. A 2016 study found that those who consumed significantly more sugar and fat in their diet than their study counterparts had an adverse impact on the quality of their nightly rest.
The volunteers who consumed diets with more sugar spent less time in deep, slow-wave sleep. “This sleep stage is essential for the body’s physical restoration and healing, as well as for maintaining a healthy metabolism and immune function,” according to The Sleep Doctor.
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Propping up the sleep-inducing benefits of drinking cherry choice, in one study, participants suffering from insomnia drank either 16 ounces (480 ml) of tart cherry juice or the same amount of a placebo juice each day for two weeks. The cherry juice increased sleep time by an average of 85 minutes.
Furthermore, tart cherry juice seems to rival if not exceed the effectiveness than valerian and melatonin — the two most studied natural products for insomnia.
The Sleep Council also recommends a cup of warm milk before bedtime to induce sleep: “It’s an age old remedy but calcium is known to aid restful sleep which is why many sleep experts recommend a nice warm mug of milk before bed.”
According to the health site, it is effective in reducing stress levels and the “stabilisation” of nerve fibres, including those in the brain – plus the psychological link between milk and going to bed might be responsible for its sleep boosting properties, it notes.
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According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is also important to avoid certain foods to aid sleep loss, such as avoiding complex carbs.
The health body said: “Skip the white bread, refined pasta, and sugary, baked goods, which may reduce serotonin levels and impair sleep. Instead, choose stick-to-your-ribs whole grains for your bedtime snack: Popcorn, oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers with nut butter are all good choices.”
The health site also recommends opting for foods that are high in lean protein, such cottage cheese, as they are a rich source of amino acid tryptophan, molecules which may increase serotonin levels.
In addition to diet, keeping regular sleeping hours is a simple self-help tip to encourage the body to cut down, according to the NHS.
As the health site explains, Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night, and by working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
The health body added: “It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.”
Another critical part of the winding down process is to make your bedroom sleep-friendly, which means forgoing distractions such as such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, advises the NHS.
Instead, the health site advises keeping your bedroom an environment reserved for sleep and sex: “Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.”
It is also important to eliminate other external distractions such as light so your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C, says the health site.
The health body said: “Fit some thick curtains if you do not have any. If you’re disturbed by noise, consider investing in double glazing or, for a cheaper option, use earplugs.”
Keeping a sleep diary can help you to identify the worst culprits, the NHS noted: “It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.”
It added: “A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine.”