Can Grapes Aid In a Better Night’s Sleep?

grapes as sleep aid

Wine lovers, rejoice! It might be true that eating grapes—and drinking wine—will help us sleep better at night.  Some foods and drinks—especially those with sugar or caffeine–are known to keep us tossing and turning at night. We have all heard that warm milk helps relax children and ease them into a soundless sleep, but what about those of us who would rather snack at night? Even though chips, ice cream, and cookies are a popular snack to enjoy while watching TV or reading after a long day, not only are they unhealthy, but they may be the reason behind why you aren’t sleeping well. Grapes are not only a healthier choice, but they might also be the cure behind our sleepless nights.

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Miranda Hitti, writer for the medical website WebMD states, “In humans, the brain’s pineal gland makes melatonin to help regulate cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Melatonin levels rise in the evening as a cue for sleep, and ebb as dawn approaches,” as stated on WebMD. While our brains naturally know how to regulate melatonin, some foods—like grapes—might be able to give some additional support. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture and researched by Marcello Iriti, Ph.D, of Milan’s Institute of Vegetable Virology, “test[ed] extracts from eight types of grapes for melatonin […they] found evidence of the hormone,” WebMD explains. Academicwino, a blog that explores the latest research findings about wine, states that it appears melatonin is “present in the roots, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds […and] it is speculated that melatonin may act as an antioxidant in plants to protect them against environmental oxidative stress.” All scientists aren’t on board with this idea, however; and Richard Wurtman, MD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated in the journal Chemistry & Industry, “Whether Iriti’s team might have actually found a close chemical cousin of melatonin—not melatonin itself—in the grapes,” WebMD explains.

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One 2011 study published in the Journal of Pineal Research supports the idea that melatonin is in grapes. They  found that “melatonin levels in grapes fluctuate during the day and night in the Malbec [type of grape] variety under certain conditions,” Academicwino explains. But what does that mean for the grapes or for us? Well, according to Academicwino, “in order to create the most health beneficial wine, in regards to cardiovascular benefits and anti-oxidative/anti-cancer benefits, grapes should be harvested when melatonin levels are at a maximum, thereby maximizing all three health beneficial components.” Without melatonin, the grapes are likely to shrivel up in the hot sun, according to Acedemicwino. Melatonin seems to be just as important in a grape’s health as it is for humans!

Verdict: Fact. It seems grapes do contain melatonin and, in turn, might be able to make falling asleep easier. Wine is known to make people feel tired or more relaxed, but could it be from the melatonin in the grapes? According to these studies, it does seem likely! While more research still needs to be done in order to backup grape’s sleepy effect, it is safe to assume that grapes are a wise choice for a pre-bed time snack.

How do you help yourself fall asleep?

images via istock


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