People looking for a little help getting to sleep used to drink a glass of warm milk.

That, or maybe a little brandy.

But there's another drink that might help you get off to dreamland quicker -- and it's not what you'd expect.

It's tart cherry juice -- and a new study finds that just two cups a day can help you sleep an average of 39 minutes longer and get a 6 percent boost in sleep efficiency.

That's the amount of time you spend in bed actually asleep, instead of wondering when you'll fall asleep.

Twenty volunteers were given either two cups of tart cherry juice concentrate diluted in water or two cups of ordinary fruit juice every day for a week -- one in the morning, and one at night.

And along with more time asleep and better sleep efficiency, the cherry juice drinkers had dramatic bumps in melatonin levels. That's the "sleep hormone" that some people take as a supplement -- and apparently, tart cherries will work almost as well.

On the other hand, it's probably easier -- and cheaper -- for most people to just add a melatonin supplement.

Whatever you do, make sure a good night's sleep is on your agenda -- because poor sleep has been linked to erectile dysfunction, hypertension, cognitive decline and even an early death.

Don't look to sleeping pills for help -- they can make matters worse, with some of the most popular meds linked to horrible side effects, including sleepers who get up and engage in bizarre behavior while still actually asleep.

Go natural instead -- and if cherry juice isn't your cup of tea, try a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium in the evening. This combination can help you get to sleep quicker, and sleep better once you're out.

In addition, a supplement of valerian root or valerian tea has also been shown to help bring about a good night's sleep -- try it about 30 minutes or so before bedtime.