Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep: Does It Work?

Tart cherry juice in a glass and pitcher on pink with ripe berries in wicker basket
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    When it comes to home remedies for improving sleep, most people have heard of options like chamomile tea or magnesium supplements. However, another popular over-the-counter sleep aid may work as well and be tastier to boot. The yummy home solution people are turning to so they can catch some Z’s? Tart cherry juice for sleep.

    What is Tart Cherry Juice?

    Tart cherry juice is juice made primarily of sour cherries, specifically the Prunus cerasus species. Notably, sour cherries have higher concentrations of vitamins A and C as well as melatonin compared to sweet cherries.[1]

    Let’s take a closer look at these components.

    Melatonin

    The brain’s pineal glands produce melatonin, a hormone that plays a large role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. When the body gets ready for sleep, it starts producing more of this hormone. Conversely, those who suffer from conditions like insomnia tend to have overall lower levels of melatonin.

    How Much Melatonin is in Tart Cherry Juice?

    The Montmorency variety of Prunus cerasus has a melatonin concentration of roughly 15 ng/g.[2]

    Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is a group of compounds involved in important biological functions. Many know it plays an important role in vision health; it also has a role in the body’s immune system and certain cellular activities.[3]

    Vitamin C

    Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an important nutrient that plays a role in functions such as tissue repair. It is also considered an antioxidant, which means it helps prevent oxidation from occurring. Now, oxidation is a process that can create free radicals, which are harmful to cells in the body. So, vitamin C can effectively act in such a way that it protects the body’s cells from harm by free radicals.[4]

    Does Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep Work?

    Possibly. Some studies suggest that this beverage can improve sleep.[5] One 2010 study, for example, examined how this drink would affect elderly people with insomnia; the non-placebo group experienced modest benefits compared to the placebo group.[6] Additionally, a 2012 study suggests that tart cherry juice slightly improved sleep duration and quality.[7]

    It’s important to note, though, that these studies were both extremely limited. So, tart cherry juice may very well improve sleep. However, large-scale studies are needed to better determine its medicinal benefits.

    When Should I Drink Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep?

    Some recommend two glasses of this beverage a day: one in the morning and one in the evening.

    Final Thoughts

    When it comes to home remedies for sleep, tart cherry juice is an affordable and tasty option. There’s some research backing up its effectiveness as a modest sleep aid, unlike many other over-the-counter options on the market. With only two glasses needed a day for potential benefits, this beverage can easily become a part of most daily routines.

    References

    [7]Howatson, G., Bell, P.G., Tallent, J., Middleton, B., McHugh, M.P., & Ellis, J. (2012). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European journal of nutrition, 51(8):909-16. doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7

    [5]Kelley, D. S., Adkins, Y., & Laugero, K. D. (2018). A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients, 10(3), 368. doi:10.3390/nu10030368

    [3]National Institutes of health. (2019). Vitamin A. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

    [4]National Institutes of health. (2019). Vitamin C. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

    [6]Pigeon, W. R., Carr, M., Gorman, C., & Perlis, M. L. (2010). Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. Journal of medicinal food, 13(3), 579–583. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0096

    [2]Reiter, R.J., & Dun-Xian, T. (2002). Melatonin: an antioxidant in edible plants. New York academy of sciences, 957: 341-344.

    [1]U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). Cherries, sour, red, raw. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173954/nutrients

    Disclaimers

    This article is not to replace the advice of a licensed professional. Allergic reactions, drug interactions, and other reactions may occur. Always talk to a doctor before introducing anything new to a diet.

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