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Sleep Health

Sidestep Summer Insomnia With Candle Flames, Mind Exercises, and…Cherry Juice?

Natural remedies may help you more than insomnia drugs.


High heat and longer days can leave us suffering from bothersome bouts of summer insomnia. From noisy fans to sweat-laden sheets to chirping crickets, the disturbances during this time of year are endless. Fortunately, there’s a bit of good news: A few natural fixes may help you enjoy sweet sleep the whole night through.

To fall asleep faster, watch a flame flicker.

Fun summertime activities can leave your brain buzzing long after you lay down your head. To restore calm, gaze at a flickering candle for three minutes, at least 15 minutes before bed. University of Delaware researchers say this helps 60 percent of folks fall asleep fast.

Why? This simple form of “mindfulness” meditation (used around the world for thousands of years) grounds your mind in the physical world, breaking the worry loop that blocks sleep. Another option: Tune into a free “Burning Candle Meditation” on YouTube.

To sleep soundly, do a body scan.

Often find yourself tossing and turning at night? Taking slow, deep belly breaths while focusing on relaxing every muscle individually from your head to your toes for just 10 minutes makes sleeping through the night a cinch. Research published in the journal Sleep found that bedtime relaxation techniques that calm the brain spur the release of sleep-deepening theta waves, which helps reduce overnight awakenings. Plus, they increase the time you spend in the deepest stages of sleep.

Tip: For an easy how-to body scan guide, try a free app like Balance: Meditation and Sleep, on Apple and Android.

To avoid early wake-ups, sip on cherry juice before bed.

One of summer’s greatest delights is its long days. But all that extra light can block the body from producing enough melatonin to allow you to sleep through the night. To avoid rising too early, sip eight ounces of tart cherry juice up to two hours before bed. Research from the American Journal of Therapeutics notes that the fruit’s melatonin may offset a shortfall, helping you snooze up to one hour and 24 minutes longer — better results than the insomnia drug Ambien.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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