Fact or Myth: Tart Cherry Juice Helps You Sleep Better?

This is a FACT.

Tart cherry juice contains two natural sleep aids: the sleep hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan. Proanthocyanidins stain cherries red, but they also contain an enzyme that helps decrease inflammation and the breakdown of tryptophan so that it can work longer in the body. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice eases the inflammation and oxidative stress triggered by exercise in healthy adults. These studies have also shown a positive side effect of tart cherry juice—improved sleep!

cherry juiceTart Cherry Juice for Sleep

Scientists have two theories as to how tart cherry juice helps you sleep better. It might just be due to the melatonin in the juice, or it might be due to the effect tart cherry juice has on inflammation. Elevated levels of inflammation have been shown to adversely affect sleep, so by decreasing inflammation, tart cherry juice may in turn be improving sleep.

A University of Rochester Medical Center double-blind study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food validated tart cherry juice as a tonic for sleep. Fifteen elderly insomniacs drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and 8 ounces 1 to 2 hours before bed on certain days, and a placebo on others for eight weeks. The cherry juice helped participants sleep more soundly, waking up fewer times during the night, while the placebo showed no such benefit. The tart cherry juice, however, didn’t appear to impact the rate at which insomniacs fell asleep. Researchers concluded that tart cherry juice for sleep offers “modest benefit” on par with melatonin and slightly more effective than valerian.

Louisiana State University researchers conducted a similar study showing that tart cherry juice helps you sleep better. Seven older adults suffering from insomnia were given 8 ounces of tart cherry juice two times a day for two weeks. For the next two weeks they drank no juice. For the final two weeks they drank a placebo twice a day. Compared to the placebo, the tart cherry juice increased sleep time by an average of 84 minutes.

If tart cherry juice isn’t your thing, then try kiwis. Chinese researchers found that eating two kiwis before bed increased sleep time by 12% and reduced sleep-waking periods by 29% in just four weeks!