Pill-Free Cures for Insomnia

Tart Cherries are among the richest food sources of melatonin, the same sleep-inducing hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The body’s production of melatonin declines with age, which is part of the reason that older adults often have trouble sleeping. A study in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that small doses of melatonin—about 0.3 milligrams (mg)—helped insomniacs get a better night’s sleep. One cup of tart-cherry juice or about one-eighth of a cup of dried tart cherries contains roughly the same amount. Eat tart cherries or drink one cup of juice about an hour before bedtime. The juice is very tart, so you might want to mix in a little apple or pineapple juice. Sweet cherries also contain melatonin but not as much.

If you just can't catch those Zs and you hate the groggy morning-after feeling you get from sleeping pills, try this acupressure trick. Just before you go to bed, press the center of the bottoms of your heels with your thumbs. The easiest way to do this is to lie on your back (on a carpeted floor is best) and bend your knees, using your right hand on your left foot and left hand on your right. Press as hard as you can without cramping your hands. Keep pressing for at least two minutes—up to four minutes is even better. You should feel yourself starting to really relax, with tension leaving your body. Ease into bed for blissful zzzzzzzs.

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