The winter months can often bring about disturbances in our sleep patterns, with the long, dark evenings and gloomy mornings meaning we often see little of the sun outside our working hours.

But those who are struggling to get enough shut-eye could try taking herbal supplements to address deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals that cause us to lie awake at night cursing the impending ringing of the alarm clock.

A study trialled in the US recently found juice from tart cherries could help to regulate our sleep-wake cycle and even give us an average of 39 minutes’ extra sleep.

Participants in the research drank two glasses of tart cherry juice each day and found they slept longer and more efficiently - meaning their time spent in bed not sleeping was significantly reduced - compared to when they drank a non-cherry juice fruit cocktail.

It is thought that the 30ml servings of juice contain the equivalent of 90 to 100 cherries, which boast a high concentration of melatonin, used in the body to control our sleeping and waking patterns.

There are other natural remedies that can be used to help us switch off and catch some Zzzs, such as calcium and magnesium.

Deficiencies in either of these two minerals can cause restlessness and nervousness, so make sure you eat plenty of kelp, wheat bran and magnesium-rich nuts over the winter to address shortfalls in the body.

Lisa Artis, spokeswoman for the Sleep Council, suggested making yourself a hot, milky drink or herbal tea before you go to bed and laying off the caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

"At the end of the day, if you really can’t sleep, don’t continue to lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again," she added.

Posted by Matilda Jones