When I was younger, sleep was certainly a friend of mine. I slept so soundly and for so long, an alarm clock wouldn't wake me up, forcing my parents to rouse me from my deep slumber every morning through high school. Not such a bad problem to have.
But now, add up all the daily stresses of adult life and my formerly comatose nights have been replaced with hours of tossing and turning.
As much not a fan of sleeping pills as I am alarm clocks (although I use and abuse one now), I have long looked for a natural way to get more sleep that still allows me to operate heavy machinery in the morning. Out of trial and error and some recent research came my new concoction: taking my calcium-magnesium supplement with a glass of tart cherry juice between 30 and 60 minutes before I go to bed Now, I bet you're wondering how this would work.
Calcium and Magnesium
In addition to protecting the body's tissues, calcium also supports a healthy central nervous system, which can help you bring down your anxiety and get to sleep more easily (and stay asleep). Magnesium is also known to calm the nerves and tell your brain to "shut off" so you can relax and sleep through the night.
The recommended daily amount of calcium and magnesium one needs varies by age. On average, adult women should consume 1,000 mg of calcium and 310 mg of magnesium per day and adult men should have 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 mg of magnesium, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements. You can find calcium-magnesium combination supplements in many forms, including powders, which can be added to the juice if you don't like pills (plus they don't taste very appetizing with water alone).
Tart Cherry Juice
The reason tart cherry juice has become my bedtime beverage of choice is the natural presence of melatonin in the juice of these delicious berries. Melatonin helps the body recognize changes in light and communicates to the rest of the body it's time to sleep. Unlike a stronger supplement, tart cherries contain less than 1 mg of naturally occurring melatonin per serving. Melatonin, in supplement form, is only recommended for use for up to two weeks, maximum. Anyone who travels frequently as well as the elderly and shift workers can benefit from these supplements -- categories I don't fall into at this time. The benefits of better sleep go on and on, including a heightened immune system.
I enjoy 8 fl oz over ice each night. I prefer the juice as close to raw as possible and unpasteurized, with no added sugar (fruit has enough natural sugar on its own, so this isn't a calorie-free sip). Basically, the kind of juice that comes in a dark bottle you have to shake before pouring to get all the good stuff mixed. You can also find organic, no-sugar-added concentrates that allow you to stretch the bottle further. Typically, you mix 2 tbsp with 8 fl oz of filtered water.
This combination also has antioxidant and inflammatory effects and, as we all know, calcium and magnesium are daily essentials for continued bone health and the prevention of osteopenia and osteoporosis. I typically work out at night, and tart cherry juice's anti-inflammatory benefits have been known to soothe muscles after exercise to prevent soreness the next day. Of course, you could always take your calcium and magnesium during the day (they still provide the nervous system support you need) and drink the tart cherry juice at night, if you prefer (Editor's Note: I'm not a doctor nor a nutritionist, so please consult your doctor before adding supplements to your routine, especially if you've been diagnosed with a medical condition).
If you're having trouble getting some ZZZZ's at night, give this combination a try and let us know how it works. You can find everything you need at eVitamins!