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Good sleep goes a long way in today’s busy world, so often people are looking for the perfect fix for better rest.
Enter the sleepy girl mocktail.
You may have seen the simple recipe on your social media feed: about half a cup of tart cherry juice and a scoop of magnesium powder topped off with either a prebiotic soda or soda water.
But does the concoction actually work?
“I don’t think that it’s necessarily going to be like a magic bullet the minute you consume it, but I do think that the ingredients in it can support healthy sleep,” said Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian based in New York City.
Tart cherry juice contains a small amount of melatonin — which has properties to relieve anxiety, relax muscles and turn off wakefulness, added pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Huntington Health in Pasadena, California.
And magnesium is a mineral of many purposes. It calms the body by controlling the stress hormone cortisol and promoting the sleep hormone melatonin, Cassetty said. But she recommends magnesium glycinate — not magnesium citrate, which could upset your stomach.
The prebiotic soda is probably for taste, but it never hurts to get in some prebiotics, which promote beneficial bacteria in the gut, she said.
Dasgupta gave the drink a try. He didn’t notice better sleep, but he did get stuck with a large container of 100% tart cherry juice no one else in his home would drink, he said.
There are many things to consider before you add in — or rule out — a sleepy girl mocktail, he said.
And of course, if you have any questions about whether the ingredients involved are safe for you, consult your health care provider, Dasgupta said.
Setting a routine
Part of what may make the sleepy girl mocktail helpful isn’t what’s in it as much as the routine of making and drinking it.
To get a good night’s rest, go to bed and waking up at the same time every day, Dasgupta said. A set wind-down schedule can signal to your body that it’s time for sleep and hold you to consistent times to stay in line with your circadian rhythm, which regulates your cycles of sleep and wakefulness.
“You need to transition into sleep and definitely come up with your bedtime routine,” he added.
Be sure to time this routine right, however, Dasgupta said. Avoid drinking too much before bed or you might spend more time waking up to use the restroom, he said.
But timing the increase in melatonin correctly is also key.
Dasgupta recommends drinking the mocktail with melatonin about two hours before it’s time to sleep, he said.
Mocktails not cocktails
The sleepy girl mocktail could help by kicking out the evening cocktail (or other alcoholic drink), said Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University.
Sure, an evening glass of wine may help you feel like you are getting sleepy, but the evidence shows that alcohol consumption results in poorer quality sleep, said St-Onge, who is also director of the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition’s Center of Excellence for Sleep & Circadian Research.
Switching to something nonalcoholic and low in sugar but maintaining the ritual of a beverage to signal the start of the winding-down part of the day may be helpful in getting more high-quality sleep, Dasgupta said.
When a drink isn’t enough
Maybe the sleep mocktail will help you, but all the experts agreed that many factors can influence the quality of your sleep, and it is important to look at both your behaviors and the possible underlying conditions to poor sleep.
Most people get plenty of magnesium in their diet and can add even more by incorporating “some leafy green vegetables, almonds, yogurt, tofu, brown rice,” Dasgupta added.
And routine habits such as when you power down your screens that emit sleep-disrupting blue light or how often you power up your movement for physical exercise play a big part in the quality of a person’s rest, he said.
If you have an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that keeps you from going to sleep or you are told you snore a lot, Dasgupta recommends seeing a doctor to find out whether you have a sleep condition.
Occasional and short-term insomnia is normal and not always a cause for alarm, but chronic insomnia — defined as difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep at least three days a week for three months — is different, Dasgupta said.
If you are experiencing chronic insomnia, the best treatment is usually establishing good sleep hygiene and seeking out cognitive behavioral therapy, he added.
“If you do have chronic insomnia, you definitely want to make sure that the main state therapy is always going to be cognitive behavioral therapy,” Dasgupta said.
Whatever underlying causes are keeping you from feeling rested, your sleep is individual, he said. Maybe the sleepy girl mocktail works for you or maybe it doesn’t, but either way it’s crucial to establish your own version of a good night.
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