You’ve been at that party where someone says, “Oh, no red wine for me. It makes me so sleepy.” OK, straight Scotch for you then…

Seriously, though, is there any truth to that? Does red wine—especially as opposed to white wine—make us sleepier? According to Macello Iriti, Ph.D. of Plant Science at Milan State University, and Vandana Sheth, dietician and nutritionist for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, sort of yes, and sort of no.

As they told YouBeauty.com, the seeds and skin and flesh of grapes actually do contain melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland (in the brain, and yes, it looks like a tiny pine cone, hence the name) that controls your sleep cycles. Fermentation, supposedly, increases the amount of melatonin. So it stands to reason that wine—white or red—would make us all sleepy. It also stands to reason that since red wines have more contact with the skin, the melatonin levels in red wine would ultimately be higher, and thus more soporific (that means sleep-inducing, like watching a TED Talk. Or are we supposed to be into those?)

But we have to consider scale. Just like the studies that show rats can die from Sweet n’ Low, the amount of melatonin you’ll get from a glass of wine might not add up to Ambien or chloroform standards. Per Iriti and Sheth, a glass of red wine might contain anywhere between 60 and 120 nanograms (nano meaning one billionth) of melatonin. The melatonin pills we take to sleep (we all take those, right?) contain about 10,000 times as much. Granted, we all might drink a few more glasses of red wine than we care to admit. But we likely don’t drink enough to incur the kind of sleepiness that a melatonin pill induces.

So what are the likely culprits? The fact that you’re out, drinking, and drinking wine. (Or any alcohol.) At the end of the day, the melatonin is a bit of a shove into sleepiness. (But not necessarily good sleep.)

Unofficially, everyone knows that different kinds of booze will give them a different kind of night. But now, data from one of the largest surveys on drug and alcohol use finally prove it: hard liquor gives most people that extra ~swag~.

That’s based on findings from the 2016 Global Drug Survey, run by an independent research organization based in London. The survey was distributed through print, digital, and social media in 11 different languages, and ultimately included 29,000 people between 18 and 34 years old, from 21 different countries.

Everyone who took the survey responded to questions about how they felt after drinking wine, liquor, beer, and cider—though cider didn’t have enough responses so was left out of the final analysis—and their drinking habits, like how often and how much they drank. They also reported their age, gender, and whether or not they attended high school to give a rough estimate of their socioeconomic class. Researchers from the NHS Trust in Wales and King’s College London then analyzed their responses, and published their work in BMJ Open on Nov. 21.

They found that, in general, liquor tended to rev people up: More people reported experiencing every emotion included in the survey (except for feeling “relaxed” and “tired”) when they drank spirits. Red wine (unsurprisingly) made over 60% of respondents feel sleepy, compared to only 39% for beer, the next highest category.

That heightened feeling of emotion brought on by liquor has a dark side: 30% of respondents said liquor made them feel more aggressive. That was more than three times the number of people who reported feeling aggressive after drinking beer, and 10 times the number for either type of wine.

Breaking down the results further, the research team found that men were more likely to report feeling aggressive when drinking in general compared to women. In addition, survey-takers whose reported drinking habits suggested they were alcohol-dependent—based on a set of questions included in the survey called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test—were more likely to report aggressive feelings after drinking than the general population. This same group was also more likely to report feeling all of the more positive emotions when drinking, too. That sounds like a contradiction, but it likely suggests that these are people who tend to use booze to heighten all sorts of feelings, from celebrating to trying to feel better to wallowing in pain.

The study doesn’t offer any insight into why different alcoholic drinks make people feel differently. In addition, self-reported data are only as good as a participant’s memory, and the survey didn’t ask how quickly they were drinking, what their moods were like before they took the first sip, or if there was something like dancing or drugs involved that may have changed the overall experience.

Practically, the researchers think that showing the relationship between drinking and emotions could lead to better ways to help people who may have a drinking problem. But for the rest of us, it’s proof of what we already know: tequila usually makes for a pretty good night.

Drinking Red Wine Every Night Can Help You Sleep Better and Live Longer

We hear a lot of conflicting thoughts about drinking. On the one hand, alcohol consumption can put a strain on your liver function and is believed to contribute to certain forms of cancer. On the other hand, doctors say that alcohol in moderation helps you relax and relieve stress, which is crucial for a healthy mind and body.

But according to a new study by the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, a glass of wine at night can actually help in preventing such things as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, and even help you live longer.

Now, before you go nuts and start chugging Merlot like there ain’t no tomorrow, reread that last sentence very carefully. A glass of red wine helps those things. A, as in one glass with dinner. Not ten. So, yeah, while it’s pretty rad that red wine might now officially be considered good for you, it only applies when consumed in real moderation.


(Photo: Flickr/Sophie)

In the study, 224 people who weren’t current wine drinkers were told to drink five ounces a night of either mineral water, dry white wine, or dry red wine every night, while also following a calorie-restricted Mediterranean-style diet. They did this for two years, filling out questionnaires along the way and having blood drawn at both six months and two years in to get a look at glycemic control, lipids, and liver function.

At the end, it was found that those who drank either red or white wine enjoyed better sleep quality than those who chose water (suckers!). But only those who drank red wine had increased levels of good HDL cholesterol and better cholesterol ratio, as well as a significant drop in elements of what’s known as metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol. The researchers also found no adverse effects within this group.

So what’s at play here? Well, in part, it’s that red wine is high in antioxidants like resveratrol, which those in the red wine group had at levels 13 times higher than the other participants. It’s also the fact that the wine is consumed with a meal, which helps avoid the post-eating blood sugar spike, which in turn lowers inflammation—a root cause of everything from diabetes to dementia. Drinking wine with your food helps your body absorb those sugars better, so they don’t get dumped right into your blood stream.

Of course, all of these benefits are increased further by eating things like fish and vegetables and skipping fatty or sugary desserts. But that’s all worth it if you’re able to raise a glass and toast to the fact that that vino is actually improving your life.

The Best Drinks for Better Sleep

It’s probably dawned on you by now that getting the ideal, extra restful and completely uninterrupted night’s sleep is pretty much all but impossible. That’s regardless of what you’ve got going on during your waking hours. Especially with the temptation of our phones and social media hanging over our shoulders, sometimes sleep doesn’t seem to be a top priority. Even when it’s really what we need most. If you want to start getting your best night’s rest, you should start with a high-quality mattress.

We all probably wake up way earlier in the morning and stay up later than we would like. Who doesn’t like being able to Netflix binge late into the night and then wake up to sunlight coming through the windows, rather than a blaring alarm and the entire groggy day ahead of us?

Sometimes getting to sleep and staying that way can be just as big a feat as dragging yourself out of bed at the alarm in the morning. And with the billion things we all seem to consume ourselves with during our waking hours, winding down before hitting the sack can be the toughest part of the day.

It’s important to slow down and chill out for a while before trying to get straight to sleep, or else you aren’t going anywhere but a caffeine-driven trance the next morning, yet again. And while that doesn’t sound like too treacherous a job, everyone can use a little help with it from time to time.

No matter where you’re from or when you were born, you’ve probably gone to your mom as a child unable to sleep, and been sent back to bed with a glass of warm milk (then promptly heading to snooze town). That’s just one of the countless drinks known for helping the wound-up try to wind down before attempting to get some shut-eye. Not to mention a bunch of herbs and supplements used in teas that can have the same effect.

It’s better to opt for natural remedies and supplements before heading straight for the sleeping pills, which really aren’t relaxing you and promoting restful sleep, but sedating you.

What if it were possible to feel like you slept in, even if you were nowhere close? Sounds too good to be true right? Take a look at a few of these helpful (and tasty) pre-bedtime drinks before making a verdict.

Hot Cocoa

There are few things more delicious or comforting than some nice warm cocoa before drawing your day to an end. And this isn’t a new trick. The original before bed cocoa sippers were the Mayans, who gave it a twist with some other spices and herbs for extra health benefits and flavor.

Warm Milk

This one you saw coming. The classic sleep tonic just can’t be left out or forgotten. Milk’s secret to being so relaxing is its source of calcium and tryptophan, which your body turns into melatonin (the natural sleepy hormone). An even better option is skimmed milk, which gives your body less sugar and fat to process, allowing you to fully relax and actually get to sleep when you plan to.

Chamomile Tea

Making yourself some chamomile tea about a half hour or so before bed can act as the perfect relaxant. It helps to calm nerves and settle your stomach, and it’s caffeine free. The flavor is nothing too intense, and it has its own source of natural sugars, so you don’t need to add anything to it at all.

Peppermint Tea

All kinds of mint tea are super popular, not only because of the sleep-inducing properties but because it tastes great and mint is also said to aid in focus if needed. It’s similar to chamomile and has some of the same effects, but typically has more flavor. The taste and smell can aid in stress, and the tea itself can help out with immune system support, stomach problems, and even digestion.

Hot Chocolate

Not to be confused with its classic relative, hot cocoa. While the two do have similar tastes, cocoa is made with only cocoa powder, while hot chocolate has cocoa butter as well. Cocoa is also mixed with water, while hot chocolate is mixed with milk, making it a creamier alternative, and also giving you the benefits of milk at the same time.

Cherry Juice

A 2010 study published in the Medicinal Food journal suggested having around a cup of tart cherry juice in the morning and one about two hours before bed. The study showed a significant decrease in insomnia in those who participated. The juice is so helpful for sleep because of its source of melatonin, and drinking some in the morning as well as before bed can help regulate your sleep cycle.

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm is actually a part of the mint family. The lemony leaves can be steeped in boiling water to make flavorful, relaxing tea for when you want to switch it up from mint every night. Lemon balm has been used to reduce anxiety and promote sleep since the middle ages, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Decaffeinated Green Tea

Green tea is rich in an amino acid called theanine. The acid has been shown to be helpful in promoting sleep and lowering stress levels. Regular green tea, however, has caffeine, so be sure to spring for the caffeine free variety when looking to use the flavorful tea to wind down in the evening.

The Republic of Tea “Get Some ZZZ’s” Tea

This harmonious blend of herbs and widely known, super helpful sleep promoters like passionflower, spearmint, and chamomile is not only caffeine free but also tasty to the point of craving it even midday. However, the blend also contains valerian root extract, which is named a mild sedative, so maybe stick to drinking it at bedtime.

Celestial Seasonings “Sleepytime” Tea

This one is a common favorite of tea-drinking, involuntary night owls everywhere. Sleepytime tea has been around and popular for years, and is known mainly for its blend of sleep promoters like chamomile, mint, and lemongrass. The tea is also available in Sleepytime Vanilla, which adds a sweet boost before heading to bed with a satisfied sweet tooth and ready to catch some serious Zs.

Harney and Son’s “Yellow and Blue” Tea

This floral-flavored tea is primarily a mix of chamomile and lavender specifically paired to help calm the nerves before bed. The two combined have super effective anxiety-reducing effect according to the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Pure Coconut Water

Coconut water is originally advertised as an energy-boosting drink, but it can really go either way. The drink is a super good source of magnesium and potassium, both of which can really help your muscles relax. It also contains some B vitamins, which are known to help lower stress.

Banana Smoothie

This one’s fun, delicious and effective. Blend a small banana with some almond butter and unsweetened soymilk or almond milk (or regular milk to get the melatonin benefits from there). Together they make the perfect bedtime smoothie, with a great amount of potassium and magnesium which can relax your muscles.

Ovaltine Classic Malt or Chocolate Malt Mix

In India and Britain, this malt beverage has been popularly used for sleep promotion for ages. The original brand Horlicks it hard to come by in the US, but Ovaltine is very similar (if not identical with a different name). Both are a good source of B vitamins, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium. The overall effect is relaxed muscles and an easy trip to dreamland.

Drinks to Avoid if Your Goal is Sleep

While there are tons of drinks you could have in your house that you had no idea were natural sleep helpers, the same goes for sleep robbers. There are countless types of drinks that you’ve probably been having before bed that will make you say “ah ha!” as to why you’ve continued tossing and turning in spite of your countless other sleep improving efforts and regimens.

Here are just a few…

Alcohol

This one may come as a surprise, seeing as the immediate effect of alcohol is feeling relaxed and sleepy. And while this may be the case, drinking alcohol right before bed can be extremely disruptive to sleep. It’s not rare for people to drink some alcohol in the evening to unwind and calm themselves after a long day.

But depending on how long that early evening recliner-wine nap is, some people may have difficulty returning to sleep once they actually head to bed. Evening napping for any reason disrupts your body’s internal clock and makes it think that it’s daytime already when you wake up from your cat nap.

For some people, alcohol as a sedative is pretty effective, but once the alcohol has been metabolized and registered by their body (maybe three to four hours into the night), most of the time they wake up suddenly and have trouble getting back to sleep. And if/when they do manage to get back to sleep, it isn’t normally restful – it would most likely be filled with tossing and turning and vivid dreams with frequent awakening. They would wake up groggy and unrested, and could even develop snoring or sleep apnea.

Coffee

Coffee is the way that many people wake themselves up for their early mornings after nights of tossing and turning. But when the caffeine from your morning cup of joe wears off in four hours or so, then comes the dreaded slump. To refill or not to refill?

If you catch another cup to prevent the slump, you’ve getting yourself even more full of caffeine, and if not, you’re liable to fall into an afternoon nap, throwing off your body’s natural clock. Heavy daily consumption of caffeine is disruptive to your sleep cycle whether you refill or not.

Afternoon or evening caffeine can even awaken any restless-leg symptoms you may not even know about yet.

The Bottom Line

When trying to budget your drink consumption for the best sleep, it really isn’t a tough equation. But the drink you choose is equally as important as the time you choose to drink it. Trying to stick to things that are half caffeinated and half uncaffeinated (if coffee is absolutely necessary) will cut down on the adverse effects you see later that night.

But if you can live without your morning caffeine, try to stick to one of the other delicious options that will reward your sweet tooth while also rewarding your sleep cycle.

People have used this age-old remedy to help them drift into dreamland for decades, and it’s still a popular choice today, despite the fact that a New York Times article suggests there isn’t enough evidence to prove the ritual has any effect.

The reason why many mothers and scientific experts alike swear by warm milk is because milk contains significant amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is also present in meals full of carbohydrates, which is one reason why many people feel sleepy after eating a big meal. Once tryptophan is consumed, it’s converted to the natural hormone melatonin in the body, which helps to regulate our natural sleep state.

Almond Milk

Taking a step away from the classic bedtime solution, almond milk could be a fantastic sleep-inducing alternative. According to studies, the presence of serotonin in the brain can help to initiate sleep. Healthy serotonin levels in our central nervous system often depend on the presence of tryptophan, which is naturally found in both cow’s milk and almond milk.

Almond milk is also particularly high in magnesium, which is another important nutrient that can improve sleep quality.

Malted Milk

Whether it’s the classic British option Horlicks, or products like Ovaltine and similar store-brand offerings, this nighttime beverage is a great sleep aid for those in favor of warm, milky drinks. Malted milk contains plenty of vitamin B, zinc, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium — a blend of minerals that’s perfect for helping you relax before bedtime.

Valerian Tea

Valerian root has been used for centuries as something of a sedative in the medical world. It’s also been used to help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote calmness in people as a natural remedy to stress.

The valerian herb is now frequently used to help treat sleep disorders, particularly for people who suffer from insomnia. Usually, it’s combined with lemon balm, hops, and other herbs known to cause drowsiness. Unfortunately, the only problem with this sleep solution is that you need to be willing to take regular naptime breaks, as valerian can become quite addictive.

Green tea is generating a lot of interest in the modern world today thanks to its ability to promote weight loss. However, if you remove the caffeine boost from green tea, it has sleep-inducing benefits, too.

Green tea contains the amino acid known as theanine, which has been proven to help reduce stress and promote more restful sleeping patterns. While the high caffeine levels of regular green tea cancel out those benefits when you’re starting your morning, decaffeinated options can be perfect for bedtime.

Chamomile tea, like warm milk, is another more traditional option in the world of natural sleeping solutions. Experts have recommended the use of chamomile for years as an aid for those who suffer from insomnia. Often, this tea is very calming and soothing — as well as being caffeine-free.

Sometimes, people will pair their chamomile tea with other natural remedies, such as magnesium supplements, to help enhance the effects.

Herbal Tea with Lemon Balm

The last of our tea-based suggestions is just about any caffeine-free herbal tea. When mixed with lemon balm, herbal teas can make a perfect sleep aid for anyone seeking a natural way to drift off. Lemon balm, which is also known as balm mint in some areas, is a fantastic option for busting stress, fighting off insomnia, and promoting healthy sleep.

To make the best herbal tea, start by washing about 10 lemon balm leaves and adding them to your teapot with boiling water. Let the lot steep for about five minutes before adding a spoonful of honey and drinking it while it’s hot.

Coconut water might be a surprising addition to this list, as it’s often used as an energy-boosting beverage — or at least advertised as such. However, the truth is that coconut water is brimming with ingredients that can help you sleep better, such as magnesium and potassium, which help to relax muscles. This drink is also full of vitamin B, which is known for helping to reduce stress levels.

Banana Smoothies

Another fruit-based sleep-assisting option is a banana smoothie, which can be made quite easily before bedtime and is fantastic for promoting healthy sleep patterns. All you need is to blend a small banana with some almond butter and milk for a delicious smoothie. Not only will this healthy beverage help you fight off midnight snack cravings, but it also contains plenty of magnesium and potassium to promote muscle relaxation.

Tart Cherry Juice

Finally, a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2010 found that drinking about 16 ounces of tart cherry juice during the day could result in a significant decrease in insomnia. The study was later duplicated and produced similar results.

Part of the reasoning behind this effect is that cherries are full of melatonin — an antioxidant that’s been known to regulate sleep cycles.

Sweet Dreams

While none of the drinks listed above are guaranteed to knock you out in seconds, they do possess some great natural qualities that can help you wind down and switch off after a long day. Combined with other sleeping advice, these drinks might be just the remedy you need to fight off insomnia.

What should you be drinking before bedtime?

Does what you drink really matter?

When it comes to your sleep patterns, what you eat and what you drink in the hours leading up to your bedtime really does matter. If you’re binging on sugary, fatty foods before bedtime it can place pressure on your liver and digestive system and cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which I’ve discussed in my blogs, ‘Is sugar preventing you from having sweet dreams?’ and ‘How does your liver affect your sleep?’

However, one thing I’ve not really gone into much detail about is how what and when you drink impacts your sleep patterns. Now you can probably hazard a guess as to which drinks are the main culprits when it comes to disrupting your sleep patterns – caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fizzy drinks.

All of these can rob you of a good night’s sleep for various reasons – caffeine is notorious for stimulating your nervous system and actively works to decrease your levels of sleep inducing neurotransmitters. Not to mention it can also linger in your system for far longer than you would expect – some estimate for as long as 8 hours!1

Whereas coffee and tea have the caffeine factor, fizzy drinks and alcohol often contain hidden sugars and sweeteners which can upset your blood sugar levels. I go into a bit more detail about alcohol’s effects on your sleep patterns here, ‘Does alcohol really help you sleep?’ but it should go without saying that this particular drink can wreak mayhem on your sleep cycle!

However, sometimes even seemingly healthy drinks, like fresh fruit juice, can cause problems. This is because fresh fruit juice also contains natural sugars, which can still influence your blood sugar levels. Even plain water can sometimes upset your sleep patterns – if you’re drinking large quantities of water before bedtime, you may find yourself being woken up by your bladder in the middle of the night! That’s why I usually recommend spreading your fluid intake during the day and not leaving it to 9pm to get your 1.5l of water!

What drinks help you to sleep better?

Okay, so I’ve highlighted a few drinks you may want to avoid before bedtime and discussed why what you drink matters so much, with that all said and done, are there drinks out there that can help you to sleep better? Well, the answer is a resounding yes, there are definitely drinks out there that can help to support your sleep patterns, encouraging you to relax and making you more susceptible to sleep. Below I’ve taken a look at some of my favourite night-time beverages to help you drift off!

Chamomile

This definitely won’t be the only herbal tea included in this list but, since it’s the most popular, I decided that it definitely deserves the first spot. Chamomile is best known for its calming influence which can be attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin. Apigenin works by binding to certain receptors in your brain, helping to reduce anxiety.2

This makes chamomile the perfect option if you’re feeling restless or a tad stressed before bedtime as it may enable you to relax and promote sleep. Studies have also found that, not only can chamomile help to induce sleep, it may also improve your overall sleep quality. One study examined the effects of chamomile on post-partum women and found that, after drinking chamomile tea for two weeks, they reported better quality of sleep, with fewer interruptions compared to the placebo control group.3

If you’re looking to try chamomile tea, I’d suggest taking a look at the selection of chamomile teas available with our friends over at Jan de Vries. I’d particularly recommend Heath & Heather’s Organic Chamomile Tea, which is 100% caffeine-free!

Warm milk

This is a bit of a tricky one. A glass of warm milk is a common bedtime drink but the evidence surrounding its effectiveness is murky. Part of the reason that so many people assume that dairy derived milk is good for sleep is that it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which can act as a precursor for melatonin, the sleep hormone.

However, the amount of tryptophan present in milk might not be enough to have an actual impact and science doesn’t seem to support the idea that milk in and of itself can cure insomnia. Rather, it’s possible that the powerful psychological link between warm milk and sleep might be responsible for its sleep boosting properties.4

Leaving dairy milk aside for a moment though, interestingly some evidence has emerged concerning soy milk and sleep. One study conducted by the Universidade Federal de Sao Paolo found that soy may help to ease sleep problems in older, post-menopausal women. Soy does contain tryptophan, like dairy milk, but it also contains isoflavones.

In the study a group of 38 post-menopausal women with insomnia were required to take 80mg of isoflavones or a placebo for four months.5 After four months, the isoflavones group reported that their sleep efficiency increased from 78% to 84% compared to the placebo group, which only saw a 3% increase.

So, regardless of the evidence, if you find a warm glass of milk helps you to nod off then there’s no real harm in trying it, whether your prefer dairy milk or soy!

Almond smoothie

A fruit packed smoothie probably doesn’t sound like the best remedy for a good night of sleep however, it might just be worth a try. Soy milk, as I’ve mentioned, might have some sleep-boosting properties, but if you combine it with almond butter and bananas, two great sources of magnesium, you may find that you have the ideal pre-bedtime drink.

Magnesium, as I’ve mentioned in my blog, ‘Is magnesium a miracle mineral for sleep?’ is an essential mineral that can help to support everything, from your mood to your muscles and joints. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies are common and are often linked with symptoms such as sleep deprivation, insomnia and restless leg syndrome.

Topping up your levels of magnesium before bedtime may help to promote a healthier sleep pattern. However, what you put in the smoothie really does matter so always try to avoid sugar and added sweeteners. Opt for organic soy milk and don’t go adding too much fruit – keeping it to bananas might be the best choice! If you do want to add some sweetness to your blend, why not try adding a pinch of cinnamon?

Lemon balm tea

I did say chamomile wouldn’t be the only herbal tea on this list! Lemon balm has similar therapeutic properties when it comes to helping you to get a good night’s rest. Contrary to what its name may suggest, lemon balm actually comes from the same family of plants as mint and is a herb that is frequently involved with aromatherapy.

When it comes to improving your sleep patterns, people often refer to an animal study that involved mice. In this study, lemon balm was capable of increasing GABA levels in mice; however, animal trials can be unreliable. What works on a mouse, might not work quite as efficiently on a human being which is why I prefer to refer to human studies.

Fortunately, there are human studies that indicate lemon balm’s beneficial qualities for sleep. There was a human study that utilised volunteers who had mild anxiety disorders and suffered from sleep disruptions. These participants were then required to take 600mg of lemon balm extract for 15 days, after which they reported a 42% drop in insomnia symptoms.6

Of course, it’s unlikely that lemon balm tea will contain this concentration of the herb, however, sipping on a cup before bedtime may just help to support your sleep and in any case, it certainly won’t hurt your natural sleep cycle!

Tart cherry juice

There’s been a lot of hype circulating recently with regards to tart cherry juice and its impact on your sleep patterns. They’re mentioned in my blog ‘Top 5 foods to help you get a good night’s sleep,’ for a reason. A double blind, placebo controlled study found that participants who drank a glass of sour cherry juice twice a day experienced an increase in sleep quality.7

It’s thought that the melatonin present in sour cherries is responsible for their sleep related benefits, however there’s just one problem. Firstly, not just any old cherry juice will do. In fact, most cherry juices you’ll find on the shelves of your local supermarket are loaded with sugar and definitely won’t improve your sleep. Quality matters, as do the type of cherries used in the juice.

Sour Montmorency cherries are believed to be best when it comes to aiding sleep which is why I recommend opting for a cherry juice that utilises this key ingredient. Cherryactive’s Montmorency Cherry Juice Concentrate contains only 100% cherry juice with no added sugars, sweeteners or synthetic preservatives and colourings. Simply pour two tablespoons of concentrate in a half pint glass of water and enjoy!

Herbal helpers

If you want something that is specifically targeted to help you get a good night’s sleep, you might want to consider a herbal remedy. I usually recommend a mixture of Valerian and hops as this duo can help to gently relax your nervous system, encouraging a deep, natural sleep.

Our Dormeasan drops contain this winning combination and are ideal if you struggle with anxiety or find yourself worrying when bedtime comes round. You also don’t have to worry about any groggy side-effects – you should wake up feeling refreshed and reenergised!

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198755/

4https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/food-and-drink-promote-good-nights-sleep

5https://www.reuters.com/article/us-soy-sleep/soy-may-ease-sleep-problems-in-older-women-idUSTRE6813N520100902

6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230760/

If you’re a wine lover, it’s more than likely that you’ll have used the expression ‘wine o’ clock’ on more than one occasion. After all, it’s the perfect phrase to describe the perfect moment to pour yourself a glass of your favourite vino.

But it’s actually a real thing. So much so, the Oxford English Dictionary officially recognised the phrase in 2015 as ‘an appropriate time of day for starting to drink wine’.

But the dictionary doesn’t specify a time, meaning that wine o’clock has been left open to interpretation, having a different significance for different people, depending on occasion, celebration and mood.

So we sought the advice of wine experts to help us uncover the precise time of wine o’clock.

When is wine o’clock?

For Jane Anson, contributing editor at Decanter magazine, wine o’clock varies depending on the circumstance, primarily focusing on drinking with food.

MORE: RUINING YOUR VINO? HERE’S HOW YOU SHOULD REALLY BE STORING YOUR WINE

‘A lazy Sunday brunch wine o’clock could be 11am with a mimosa, while a Summer beach holiday could call for wine o’clock at lunchtime with a cold glass of rosé,’ she told us.

‘For me, the rules for a normal working day back at home is when whoever is cooking that night gets to open whatever wine goes best with the food.’

And this concept of drinking wine with dinner is something that has developed throughout history.

Food historian Dr Annie Gray tells us that the most popular time to drink wine has changed depending on the set eating times.

‘It was only wine o’clock if you could afford it, and then it depended on the era. The Tudors ate their main meal at 10am, the Stuarts at 2pm and the Victorians at 8pm,’ she told us. ‘Historically, therefore, wine o’clock is whenever you want it to be!’

But wine o’clock takes on a whole new meaning if tasting wine is your full-time job…

MORE: 8 TOP TIPS FOR READING A WINE LIST LIKE AN EXPERT

For Joe Fattorini, presenter of ITV programme The Wine Show, wine o’clock has no correlation with mealtimes, and is in fact between the hours of 11 in the morning and one in the afternoon.

This is because it’s the perfect time to properly taste wine, when your mouth is drier and not obscured by the lingering taste of food.

‘For wine tasters, 11am to one pm is the optimum time to actually drink wine because your mouth is drier,’ he informed us.

‘The saliva that builds up in your mouth throughout the day can dramatically change the taste of wine. It doesn’t make it taste worse, just different.’

For non-professional wine tasters, however, he says five to six o’clock in the evening is a great time to drink wine ‘because you’re hungry before dinner, thus building up your appetite for a glass’.

And when we posed the question on social media, you all agreed, with 43% believing wine o’clock started at 5pm.

This was compared to 24% who said it was 7pm with dinner; 4% that thought it was anytime past one in the afternoon and 29% that believe it’s whenever you want.

And there’s actually a huge psychological meaning behind our desire to drink wine post 5pm.

It’s called ‘anchoring’, a term used to describe the association between a specific state and a specific stimulus. In this instance, the stimulus being wine, and the state being relaxation.

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‘An anchor can be a sound (the glugging of wine in a glass), a sight (a bottle of wine), a feeling (holding a cold glass in your hand), or a smell,’ says Jo Blakeley, a Neuro-Linguistic Programming trainer and author of Blokes, Beers & Burritos.

‘What happens is that, outside your conscious awareness, you come to associate these sensory stimuli with a particular state– in this instance, relaxation.’

‘Because wine o’clock at 5pm usually signifies the line between work and leisure, you immediately feel relaxed upon hearing a glug of wine, or seeing a glass of wine, etc.’

‘It’s like when you smell something that immediately takes you back to a particularly memory – such as a specific aftershave, or freshly cut grass. It takes you back to a certain time in your life without any conscious knowledge of it happening.’

So there you go. While there’s no specific time to celebrate wine o’clock, it seems that the most popular choice is around 5-6pm, when we can shirk our responsibilities for the day, pop that cork and unwind to the sound of Pinot splashing in the glass.

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How To Drink Red Wine?

Red wine is arguably one of the most popular choices across the globe. Out of the numerous variations, blends and flavours, red wine not only makes for the favourite drink but is also deemed as healthy. The study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that drinking a glass of red wine every night may help people with type-2 diabetes manage their cholesterol and cardiac health. However, it is recommended that you drink red wine under supervision.

Drinking red wine is no cake-walk. A drink as classy as red wine needs to be consumed with certain panache. Most of us may love savouring it; however, not many may know how to drink red wine. Here are some of the mistakes that are generally committed while drinking wine.

1. Filling the wine-glasses to the top

Red wine is a drink that needs to be enjoyed slowly and one of the most important aspects is to swirl the drinks in order to increase the amount of oxygen in the glass. Filling it to the top will not have enough room to do so.

2. Drinking red wine as soon as it is poured

You shouldn’t be drinking red wine as soon as it is poured; but first you need to swirl it and sniff by sticking your nose in to the glass.

3. Over-doing it

Just because red wine has been considered as a healthy drink, it doesn’t mean you load up on gallons of it every day. A glass of red wine is okay as long as you have consulted your doctor.

A glass of red wine is okay as long as you have consulted your docto​r

4. Holding the wine glass wrong

Always hold the wine glass by the stem. This will prevent heat from your hand from undoing all the hard work you did to get the wine to the right temperature.

How to drink red wine?

Drinking red wine is an experience; therefore we have outlined the basic know-how of drinking red wine like a pro. Here’s how to drink red wine.

1. Take a look at the label of the bottle

Do not start pouring the wine already; try and read the label on the bottle to get an understanding of the source of wine and how old is it.

2. Pick the right glassware

You cannot go wrong with your choice of wine glass. Make sure you choose the right one; for red wines one must go for glasses with large, rounded bowls.

3. Now pour and swirl

The idea to pour red wine in big round bowl-like glasses is to give room to exude its distinctive aroma. Pour a small amount in the glass; about one third of the glass. Now gently swirl the wine in the glass and observe any bits of solids floating around.

The idea to pour red wine in big round bowl-like glasses is to give room to exude its distinctive aroma​
4. Sniff the glass of wine

Now, sniff the wine and know what the aroma is like. Basically, there are three levels of aromas you should be able to discern while smelling the wine.

First, you will get the scent, which is likely to be fruit based.

Second, try identifying the flavours of the wine.

Third, identify the closing note of the wine’s aroma that may be a reflection of the ageing vessel, like an oak-case.

5. Taste the wine

Finally, take a small sip; wait, don’t swallow it already. Let it roll around on your tongue for a moment. Take some time to assess the intense flavour. There are two ways to drink wine, one is to swallow and analyse the after taste and the other is to spit it out. You heard us! Spitting out will help you completely analyse and compare different types of red wine. It will keep your senses intact too.

So, master your red wine drinking skills by practicing a little. However, we recommend to not over-do as binge-drinking is harmful for overall health.

Have you ever topped off your glass of cabernet or pinot noir while saying, “Hey, it’s good for my heart, right?” This widely held impression dates back to a catchphrase coined in the late 1980s: the French Paradox.

The French Paradox refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and other rich, fatty foods. This theory helped spur the discovery of a host of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. Found in red and purple grape skins (as well as many other fruits, vegetables, and nuts), polyphenols theoretically explain wine’s heart-protecting properties. Another argument stems from the fact that the Mediterranean diet, an eating pattern shown to ward off heart attacks and strokes, features red wine.

However, the evidence that drinking red wine in particular (or alcohol in general, for that matter) can help you avoid heart disease is pretty weak, says Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. All of the research showing that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have lower rates of heart disease is observational. Such studies can’t prove cause and effect, only associations.

Moderate drinking — defined as one drink per day for healthy women and two drinks per day for healthy men — is widely considered safe. But to date, the health effects of alcohol have never been tested in a long-term, randomized trial.

Grape expectations

Although some studies suggest wine is better for the heart than beer or hard liquor, others do not, according to a review article about wine and cardiovascular health in the Oct. 10, 2017, issue of Circulation. That’s not surprising, says Dr. Mukamal. “In many cases, it’s difficult to tease out the effect of drinking patterns from specific types of alcoholic beverages,” he explains. For example, people who drink wine are more likely do so as part of a healthy pattern, such as drinking a glass or two with a nice meal. Those habits — rather than their choice of alcohol —may explain their heart health.

Also, the French Paradox may not be so paradoxical after all. Many experts now believe that factors other than wine may account for the observation, such as lifestyle and dietary differences, as well as earlier underreporting of heart disease deaths by French doctors. What’s more, Dr. Mukamal notes, heart disease rates in Japan are lower than in France, yet the Japanese drink a lot of beer and clear spirits, but hardly any red wine.

Resveratrol reservations

What about the polyphenols in red wine, which include resveratrol, a compound that’s heavily advertised as a heart-protecting and anti-aging supplement? Research in mice is compelling, says Dr. Mukamal. But there’s zero evidence of any benefit for people who take resveratrol supplements. And you’d have to drink a hundred to a thousand glasses of red wine daily to get an amount equivalent to the doses that improved health in mice, he says. Also, a 2014 study of older adults living in the Chianti region of Italy, whose diets were naturally rich in resveratrol, found no link between resveratrol levels (measured by a breakdown product in urine samples) and rates of heart disease, cancer, or death. As for the Mediterranean diet, it’s impossible to know whether red wine is an important part of why that eating style helps reduce heart disease, says Dr. Mukamal.

If you enjoy red wine, be sure to limit yourself to moderate amounts. Measure out 5 ounces (which equals one serving) in the glass you typically use. Five ounces appears smaller in a large goblet than in a standard wine glass. Also, older men should be aware that both the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Geriatric Society recommend that starting at age 65, men should limit their alcohol use to no more than a single drink per day. Age-related changes, including a diminished ability to metabolize alcohol, make higher amounts risky regardless of gender.

6 Sleep Myths Busted

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An estimated 50-70 million Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Even if you typically do get a good night’s rest, chances are there’s the occasional night-or stretches of nights-where you fall short. To make every last minute of sleep count, don’t abide by these sleep myths.

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Myth 1. Falling asleep to the TV is OK.

The Truth: Artificial light from televisions-and especially from computer and smartphone screens-may suppress production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Artificial light also shifts your circadian rhythms-a biological cycle that responds primarily to daylight and darkness and influences sleep.

Myth 2. A glass of wine before bed will help you get a better night’s rest.

The Truth: Because alcohol is a sedative, drinking wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages may help you fall asleep, but as little as two drinks can cause you to sleep less restfully and wake up more frequently. And alcohol-related sleep disturbances are worse for women, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Drink moderately, if at all, and avoid drinking within a few hours of bedtime.

Myth 3. Exercising at night keeps you awake.

The Truth: Hitting the gym or going for a run less than 3 hours before bedtime won’t prevent you from falling asleep, according to recent research. It may, however, hinder your sleep quality.

Myth 4. A cup of herbal tea will put you to sleep faster.

The Truth: Though chamomile, lemon balm, hops and passionflower are all touted for their sleep-promoting properties (and are often found in “sleep-formula” tea blends), their effectiveness hasn’t been proven in clinical studies, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Myth 5. You can catch up on lost sleep by sleeping in on weekends.

The Truth: If you sleep poorly-or don’t get enough sleep-once or twice a week, you can make up for it. But after more than a few sleepless nights, it becomes harder to “recover” from lost sleep, says new research from Penn State.

Myth 6. Drinking a glass of warm milk will help you fall asleep.

The Truth: The theory is this: milk contains tryptophan (the amino acid best known for being in turkey), which when released into the brain produces serotonin-a serenity-boosting neurotransmitter. But when milk was tested, it failed to affect sleep patterns. “Tryptophan-containing foods don’t produce the hypnotic effects pure tryptophan does, because other amino acids in those foods compete to get into the brain,” explains Art Spielman, M.D., an insomnia expert and professor of psychology at the City University of New York.

Anyone who drinks alcohol from time to time knows that beer, wine, or spirits can sometimes leave you feeling drowsy. In fact, as many as 20 percent of Americans use alcohol to help them fall asleep. But while alcohol, a depressant, can help you fall asleep faster, it also contributes to poor quality sleep later. Here’s what happens—behind your closed eyes—when you go to sleep after drinking.

There’s a battle of sleep rhythms.

Drinking alcohol before bed is linked with more slow-wave sleep patterns called delta activity. That’s the kind of deep sleep that allows for memory formation and learning. At the same time, another type of brain pattern—alpha activity—is also turned on. Alpha activity doesn’t usually happen during sleep, but rather when you’re resting quietly. Together the alpha and delta activity in the brain after drinking may inhibit restorative sleep.

It can interrupt your circadian rhythm.

While you may fall asleep quickly after drinking, it’s also common to wake up in the middle of the night. One explanation is that alcohol may affect the normal production of chemicals in the body that trigger sleepiness when you’ve been awake for a long time, and subside once you’ve had enough sleep. After drinking, production of adenosine (a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain) is increased, allowing for a fast onset of sleep. But it subsides as quickly as it came, making you more likely to wake up before you’re truly rested.

It blocks REM sleep.

Another reason people get lower-quality sleep following alcohol is that it blocks REM sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep. With less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused.

It can aggravate breathing problems.

Alcohol causes your whole body to relax, including the muscles of your throat. And that makes you more prone to snoring and sleep apnea.

It leads to extra bathroom trips.

Typically, your body knows that nighttime is time for sleep, not time for trips to the bathroom. That means that your body has learned to put your bladder into hibernation for the night. But alcohol, a diuretic, can make you need to go more, interrupting your normal sleep pattern.

NEWS

Have you noticed that drinking red wine before bedtime seems to make you sleepier? If so, you’re not alone! This got the attention of university scientists, who decided to do a study to find out once and for all what it is about wine that seems to make people so sleepy.

Turns out, there’s melatonin in grape skins! Melatonin, of course, is that hormone released by your brain that helps maintain your circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. It’s often taken as a supplement for those who have trouble sleeping.

Melatonin for Sleep

That makes its presence in wine all the more revealing. It also led researchers to wonder why white wine doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

It has to do with how the wine is made. With red wine, the grape skins are left intact; with white wine, they’re removed prior to fermentation. Since the melatonin is located in the actual grape skins, only red wine ends up with a nice little dose of the sleepytime hormone.

Researchers also got curious about why different reds seem to have a bigger impact in terms of sleepiness. They found that different varieties of grapes have varying levels of melatonin present.

Nebbiolo grapes, for instance, had very high levels of the hormone. These grapes are used to produce Barolo and Barbaresco wines (native to northwest Italy). More common wines, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot, were also high in melatonin, while wines made from the Cabernet Franc grape (often used for red blends) had relatively low amounts.

Sleep Aid? No!

It is worth noting, however, that while red wine may be a more enjoyable alternative to supplemental melatonin for sleep, sleep quality can be reduced due to the alcoholic nature of the drink. Alcohol, whether it’s wine, beer, or hard liquor, can disrupt sleep cycles, causing more moments of wakefulness and less time spent in deep sleep.

There is a silver lining for those who want to imbibe AND sleep well, though. Just do it in moderation! Having just a glass or two before going to sleep is fine, as long as you follow a few pointers.

  1. Finish drinking about 3 hours before going to sleep.
  2. Drink one or two glasses of water for every glass of wine.
  3. Pair your wine with food.
  4. Limit yourself to just one or two glasses.

That’s it! By following these guidelines, you get the best of both worlds, and can still enjoy drinking red wine before bedtime.

5 Red Wine Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Red wine is kind of like sex: Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, it’s still fun. (Most of the time, anyway.) But in terms of your health, knowing your way around a bottle of red and its benefits is better than fumbling around like a vino virgin. Here, five mistakes you (and lots of others) make when it comes to red wine, and how to sip smarter.

1. You pour a glass right before bed. True, the alcohol in red wine can lower your core body temperature, speed the release of certain hormones, and trigger metabolic changes that help you drift off to sleep, studies show. But booze also disrupts your sleep after a few hours of slumber, shows a report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That can leave you tossing and turning in the early morning hours, and feeling groggy the following day. Better to keep your wine habit to a glass or two earlier in the night-like several hours before you hit the sack, the NIH study indicates.

2. You’re drinking it in place of exercise, instead of after exercise. A recent study (from France, natch) suggests one ingredient in red wine protects your muscles and bones in ways similar to physical activity. So quit the gym and drink more cab, right? Wrong. You’d have to pound about a gallon of red a day to get enough of that ingredient, and that wouldn’t do your liver or your lifestyle any favors. But multiple studies, including one recent paper from the Czech Republic, have shown that a glass of wine can bolster your heart and muscle health if-big if-you exercise regularly.

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3. You’re overdoing it. Loads of research has shown light-to-moderate red wine consumption-that’s a glass or two a day, several days a week-can extend your life and strengthen your heart. But drink much more than that, and you’ll shorten your life, raise your heart disease risk, and generally torpedo your health, shows a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.

4. You’re trying to get its good stuff from a supplement. A lot of the research on red wine’s benefits focuses on resveratrol, a healthful compound you can now buy in supplement form. But just as popping a multivitamin isn’t as beneficial as eating whole vitamin-rich foods, swallowing a resveratrol supplement doesn’t seem to offer the same benefits as drinking red wine. In fact, a Canadian study found resveratrol supplements actually hurt your body’s response to physical activity. Skip the pills and grab a glass instead.

5. You’re guzzling it to help your skin. Some research has tied that same red wine compound to protection from sun damage and firmer skin. The only issue: You have to spread it on your skin in lather form, and most of the studies showing benefits involved rodents, not people. On the other hand, drinking red wine in heavy doses harms your liver and dehydrates you-both of which hurt your skin and make you look older, studies show. So no, getting cozy with a bottle of red won’t do your skin any favors.

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Once the alcohol is cleared from the system—which would take about four to five hours for someone who went to sleep with a BAC of 0.08—some of these adjustments change in the opposite direction, causing wakefulness and lighter stages of sleep. This also explains why, after a particularly long night of drinking, you may wake up early and feel wide-awake.

How Alcohol Affects Sleep Disorders

According to Dr. Ilene Rosen, program director of the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, alcohol likely affects people with sleep disorders differently than those with healthy sleep patterns. For example, she told Wine Spectator that insomniacs tend to enjoy increased sedative effects of small doses of alcohol without sleep disruption later on.

However, like healthy sleepers, insomniacs can still develop a tolerance to these effects, so Rosen says alcohol is never recommended as a sleep aid. Further, those who take sleep medication should exercise extreme caution in regard to alcohol, as the side effects of mixing the two can be dangerous, or even deadly.

Rosen, who specializes in sleep apnea, also noted that alcohol could exacerbate breathing problems during sleep. “Individuals who have sleep apnea should avoid alcohol in the evening,” she said via email. “In addition, if you or your bed partner notice an increase in loud snoring or breathing pauses while sleeping after consuming alcohol, please discuss this with your physician.”

What’s a Wine Lover to Do?

Ultimately, disrupted sleep can be responsible for daytime sleepiness and poor performance throughout the next day. One of the first rules a wine lover can follow in order to sleep soundly and avoid a foggy mind the following day is to wait a while between drinking and sleeping, since many of the problems associated with alcohol and sleep are due to the rebound effect, and can be avoided if you sober up while you’re awake.

“If someone wants to have one 5-ounce glass of wine or one 12-ounce beer with dinner, allowing for three hours after consumption before going to bed may be sufficient,” Rosen said, though the exact time also depends on body weight and the time it takes for an individual to metabolize alcohol.

But even if you don’t have hours to spare, there are some basic steps you can take to be able to enjoy an adult beverage at night and still sleep like a baby afterward. “There are certain habits that people need to maintain in order to optimize their sleep quality,” explained Dr. Camilo Ruiz, medical director of Choice Physicians Sleep Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “They need to have routine bedtimes that are maintained throughout the week—not just during the workweek but also on the weekends. Some people cut back on their sleep during the workweek because they want to get work done, and then on the weekends they’ll sleep in. Unfortunately, that doesn’t allow for restful sleep.”

Ruiz also suggests avoiding bright lights in the evening, as it disturbs the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates sleepiness and alertness. So even if you do have a bit of alcohol in your system, if you shut the blinds, turn off the television and keep you phone out of sight, you will be less likely to throw your sleep schedule totally out of whack.

While you’re at it, Ruiz suggests setting your whole sleeping space up for success. “You want a dark and cool environment,” he explained, adding that environmental disturbances such as nocturnal pets or a snoring bed partner will make it tough to get a sound sleep, especially if alcohol is involved.

Finally, as with most wine-and-health issues, moderation is key. “One or two glasses of wine … at night might relax the body enough so that it can achieve good sleep,” Ruiz said. “The problem is when people go out and binge drink; there’s the potential for serious problems … I think with everything in life, moderation is good.”

Red wine and sleep

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