LANSING, Mich. (PRNewswire) — When the clocks change on Sunday most of North America may want to cling to that extra hour of sleep. But the reality is that this time shift from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time may actually compromise sleep rhythms, according to researchers. Tart cherries, a natural source of melatonin, may help us get back on track to a better night's sleep.
With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from sleep disturbances and sales of over-the-counter sleep aids on the rise, Dr. Carol Ash, Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health in New Jersey, believes the Fall time change is a wake-up call for America to rethink sleep and consider more natural ways to get a good night's rest.
"Getting proper sleep has never been more important - inadequate sleep is considered a risk factor for obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases," said Ash. "Instead of shopping for solutions in the pharmaceutical aisle, consider switching up what you eat and drink. Simple steps, like adding tart cherries to your daily diet, may help you to be a better – more efficient – sleeper."
Research has shown that tart cherry juice may help improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce the severity of insomnia and increase overall sleep efficiency. In one study, adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice slept about 40 minutes longer on average and had up to 6 percent increase in sleep efficiency. Researchers also found that drinking tart cherry juice daily helped reduce the severity of insomnia and time spent awake after going to sleep. 
Researchers attribute the sleep benefits to the melatonin and phytonutrient content of tart cherries, which are especially abundant in anthocyanins. Each serving of tart cherry juice concentrate used in the studies is estimated to contain the equivalent of 90 – 100 tart cherries.
Natural Ways To A Good Night's Sleep
Dr. Ash recommends making sleep a priority by creating a routine with these simple changes:
- Go Red Before Bed: Change your bedtime ritual by adding tart cherries to your routine. Get started by drinking a glass of tart cherry juice in the evening before you go to bed for seven consecutive days.
- Be Anti-Social: The screens from gadgets can emit blue light that suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin causing alertness, so forget about social media before bed. Keep the room quiet, dark, and cool, creating a calm sanctuary.
- Hit the Gym: Decompress from stress with exercise. The National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll 2013 found that exercise anytime is good for improving sleep patterns.
- Set Your Internal Alarm: The timing of sleep is critical for a good night sleep and keeping the same wake up time everyday helps to set your biological clock that controls rhythms for wake and sleep. When you must make a shift due to a schedule change or Daylight Saving Time, start early. If you plan ahead and adjust your time to bed and wake up time by 15 minutes a night, the transition will be much easier.
Many Reasons To Try Tart
The same compounds that give tart cherries their unique sweet-tart flavor profile and bright red color – anthocyanins – are also a cue for an array of health benefits. In addition to evidence supporting the benefits of tart cherry juice as a natural sleep aid alternative, research indicates that tart cherries may help promote heart health, reduce inflammation related to arthritis, and ease exercise-related muscle pain.
Tart cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms (including juice concentrate), and readily accessible on the shelves at a variety of retailers across the country and online. For more ways on how to Go Red Before Bed, and to learn more about the many health benefits of tart cherries, visit www.choosecherries.com.
The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI's mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research. For more information on The Red Report, a comprehensive overview of the body of research supporting tart cherries' health properties, the Red Recovery Routine, and for cherry recipes and menu ideas, visit www.choosecherries.com.