Does Tart Cherry Juice Really Help You Sleep?

At least a third of Americans have reported experiencing insomnia in the past year and nearly all of us have experienced it at some point. Sleeping pills, melatonin, sleep doctors, these are all solutions we turn to to help us fight insomnia.

But what about tart cherry juice to keep insomnia at bay? It is a natural sleep solution that reduces insomnia by boosting melatonin. 

The Studies

Several studies have been conducted and they all show that tart cherries eaten regularly can regulate your sleep cycle, making it much easier for you to fall asleep at night. A 2001 study found that Montmorency cherries, a type of tart cherry, contain high amounts of natural melatonin. In fact, they have six times more melatonin than sweet Balaton cherries.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is the sleep hormone. When it’s time to fall asleep, your brain kicks off melatonin production and its levels continue to rise through the night, reaching their peak when you wake up in the early morning. Later during the day as the level of your melatonin starts to drop, the hormone cortisol sets in, rising in order to energize you for the day.

Improvement With Sleep Efficiency and Sleep Onset

A study in 2010 found that older adults with insomnia who took tart cherry juice for sleep had similar or even better effects on sleep onset than melatonin or valerian supplements. However, researchers noted that all of these natural remedies were not as effective at eliminating insomnia as CBT-I therapy.

Another 2012 study confirmed these results. The participants who drank two servings of tart cherry juice had higher levels of melatonin and enjoyed increased sleep efficiency and sleep time than those who took a placebo.

Longer Sleep Time

Researchers have recently found that drinking tart cherry juice can prolong sleep time up to 84 minutes! All the participants, who were 50 and older and suffered from insomnia, drank two glasses each day, one in the morning when waking up and one at night before bedtime.

What makes cherry juice so special? There are different kinds of food rich in melatonin, but they do not have the same impact on the quality of our sleep like tart cherry juice. Researchers have come up with a few theories:

  • Cherries affect tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin and melatonin. Researchers found out that other compounds in cherries prevent tryptophan from fully breaking down, so it does a better job.
  • In addition to melatonin, tart cherry juice is also rich in procyanidans and anthocyanins. These are the same chemicals that can be found in blueberries known for their antiinflammatory properties that can influence our sleep.
  • The participants who drank tart cherry juice also had lower levels of kynurenine in their blood which is often linked to sleep deprivation in depressed patients.

Is Drinking Tart Cherry Juice Better Than Taking Melatonin Supplements?

Although all of this sounds promising, there have been no studies to determine if there are any negative side effects of drinking too much tart cherry juice. For example, an 8-ounce serving of tart cherry juice also includes 25 grams of sugar, which may be an important consideration for those on a diet or with diabetes.

On the positive side, some people hate taking melatonin supplements and would rather boost their levels through natural foods they eat. Two ounces of tasty tart cherry juice a day is a pleasant alternative.

In addition, tart cherry juice has other benefits besides sleep quality, like muscle recovery, reduced joint pain and inflammation for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Will Any Cherry Juice Work?

The only cherries with high concentrations of melatonin are the tart, sour varieties like Montmorency, English morello and Richmond cherries. So not any cherry juice will do the job.

Also, juices labeled as “juice cocktails” are not the same as pure tart cherry juice and they, therefore, don’t deliver the same results. Look for juice without the word ”concentrate” or without added sugar.

Tart cherry juice can be found in most health food stores or organic sections of local grocery stores. Also, it can be ordered online.

You can also combine tart cherry juice with one of our favorite mattresses for getting the best sleep in your life.