Today, supporting the post-workout recovery process is the focus. The key to doing that the right way is to use nutrition deliciously and strategically. In practical terms, this means constructing a bedtime snack with a healthy mix of essential fatty acids, low-glycemic carbohydrates and protein.

When it comes to sleep enhancement, you can have your carbs and eat them too. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods at nighttime tends to make you sleepy. But, not all carbohydrate sources are created equal. Put the cookies and ice cream down! One of the best pre-sleep food combinations is dried or fresh cherries and walnuts. Both of these superfoods contain an abundance of antioxidants and nutrients. In addition, they're rare sources of melatonin, the so called "sleep hormone" that is produced by the body during sleep. Several studies report that drinking pure cherry juice prior to retiring improves sleep duration and quality. It's also important to note that cherries are documented as reducing muscle pain that accompanies bouts of exercise, otherwise known as DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness.

Still not convinced? Consider the following: Sleeping well at night not only assists with muscle recovery, but also supports healthier food intake, mood and productivity the following day. If you're sore at night, it negatively impacts your sleep quality. If you're in a foul mood or ravenously hungry when not working out, you'll likely offset many of the health benefits associated with exercise.

Thankfully, a solution for this common and unproductive pattern can be found at your local health food store or market. Why not try it out?

All it takes is about a cup of fresh or a quarter cup of dried cherries along with an ounce of raw walnuts. Last, but not least, look for organic cherries without added sweeteners in order to avoid unnecessary blood sugar fluctuations and pesticides. Enjoy and sleep well!


John Paul Fanton is an integrative health expert with over 20 years experience in the field.

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