It's Tuesday. Glass of vino anyone? Kicking the mid-week wine habit for a better night's sleep

  • 9 Oct 2018
  • Reading time 4 mins
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Glass of wine

A soothing Malbec by a pub fire as the leaves turn red. Mulled wine with a Christmas mince pie. A cool glass of sauvignon on a summer’s evening. Wine is very much part of British life. In fact, a poll by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) shows it is now the favoured alcoholic drink for 60% of UK adults.

Why? Well apart from often tasting good, many people use it to relax. And sometimes that need for relaxation is felt more keenly mid-week.

If you are one of those people, who likes a mid-week tipple, it’s worth understanding how wine affects your sleep, for your short and long term health.

WHY wine makes you feel relaxed

Alcohol makes you relax. It promotes the release of the neurotransmitter GABA, the brain's peacemaker, which helps to turn off adrenalin production and calm you down. This is why that glass of wine makes you feel so sociable, relaxed, happy and less serious - at least for an hour, as your GABA level rises. But once that hour is up you will start to feel irritable and disconnected. At this point most people's solution is to have another drink, then another. The trouble is that after a session of drinking, GABA levels become very suppressed, leaving you grumpy and irritable.

How wine can affect sleep

If you go to sleep under the influence of alcohol, it disturbs the normal sleep cycle.

Most of us avoid becoming grumpy and irritable by going to sleep while still under the influence. Unfortunately, though, alcholol disturbs the normal cycle of dreaming, and it's dreaming that regenerates the mind. So, when you wake up in the morning, you're mentally tired, grumply and irritable becase of your low GABA, and dehydrated and sluggish because your body is still detoxifying the alchohol from the night before. 

The net consequence of regular alcohol consumption is GABA depletion, which leads to more adrenalin, anxiety and emotional over-sensitivity and poorer-quality sleep. One study found that men who drank more increased their risk of sleeping problems by 25per cent. And the less sleep you get, the more potent and dangerous are the effects of alcohol: it not only suppresses dreaming REM sleep but decreases the amount of deep sleep, which is when the beneficial growth hormone is released.

It’s worth thinking wider health implications. Researcher have recently suggested that drinking will shorten your life and suggestsevery extra wine glass over the daily recommended limit, will cut half an hour from the expected lifespan of a 40-year old!

A  TASTY, TART tipple which COULD help youR sleep

The main sleep hormone is melatonin, which your body makes from another hormone, serotonin. Natural sources of melatonin include cherries, in particular the form of the juice concentrate Cherry Active. 

Cherries

A daily shot of cherry juice can help you to nod off more easily. The tart Montmorency cherries in CherryActive contain a natural source of melatonin, the hormone needed for restful sleep – and studies have shown that other chemical compounds found in Montmorency cherry juice contribute to restful sleep as well.

A 2010 study carried out by the School of Life Sciences at Northumbria University found that Montmorency cherry juice increases levels of melatonin in the body. Volunteers drank 30ml of either Montmorency cherry juice concentrate or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days. Participants wore sensors that monitored their sleep-wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns. Those who had the cherry juice saw an increase of 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a six per cent increase in sleep quality.

A 2014 study carried out by Louisiana State University in the US found that for older people with insomnia drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes.

As well as the high melatonin content in Montomorency cherries, they believe the sleep benefits also stem from the ruby red pigments in tart cherry juice, known as proanthocyanidins. The research team believe it's the unique combination of melatonin and tryptophan in Montmorency tart cherries that is likely contributing to the sleep benefits.

Cherry Active is widely available, and because of its amazing health qualities it can also be found as one of the ‘great products selected by me’ on the HOLFORDirect website. 

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