If you’re like many people, cherry juice sounds more like an ingredient in a fancy cocktail than a way to help with your sleep. And of all the sleep aids and home remedies that are out there, tart cherry juice may not ordinarily stand out among the crowd. But based on some of the studies that have been conducted so far, there’s reason to believe that this juice may offer a meaningful boost for people who want more quality sleep.
Tart cherries carry high levels of melatonin, and this, perhaps along with other aspects of the composition of tart cherries, can explain the benefits that have been seen in small research studies to date.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is directly related to sleep. As night falls and you are exposed to less daylight, your body normally starts to produce melatonin, which helps ease your mind and body into sleep. As the night goes on, your body continues to produce melatonin as you sleep.
A lack of melatonin has been found to be related to some sleeping problems. And because of the role of melatonin in sleep, some people take supplements of melatonin every night before bed.
How Does Tart Cherry Juice Help With Sleep?
Some studies have found tart cherry juice to be helpful for sleep quality. This may be related to the fact that melatonin can be obtained through foods like tart cherries (and their juice), and this may be more effective than supplements alone. The reason for this isn’t fully known, but it may have to do with other compounds in tart cherry juice and how they affect the body and other hormones.
Tart cherry juice may also be useful for people who are endurance athletes since there is some indication that it can promote muscle recovery. Some research also points to it being able to be useful for joint inflammation and pain relief as well.
How Much Tart Cherry Juice Do You Have to Drink?
In most of the research studies that have been done so far, participants drank two glasses of tart cherry juice each day.
Remember, too, that this is not just cherry juice in general or juice from sweet cherries that do not have the same levels of melatonin. Instead, tart cherries, such as Richmond, Montmorency, and English morello cherries -- are the ones to look for. And don’t buy mixed cherry juice or cocktail juice: only buy pure tart cherry juice.
Is Tart Cherry Juice the Solution to Insomnia?
While there are indications that tart cherry juice may help with sleep, it’s way too soon to say it’s a solution to insomnia. The research studies that have been done so far are not sufficient to draw big conclusions that are applicable to everyone. For example, these studies had small numbers of participants and usually focused on older people. Many also have no compared the tart cherry juice directly with other sleep aids.
In addition, many sleep problems are not solely related to melatonin. They may be related to a co-existing physical condition that requires medical attention. Or they may be associated with an underlying mental health issue, like anxiety or depression, that can cause serious sleep disruptions. For this reason, tart cherry juice alone may be insufficient or may be less effective than other approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is a talk therapy that helps with relieving these mental health issues as they pertain to sleeping problems.
Finally, remember that juices tend to have high levels of sugar, and tart cherry juice is no exception. This sugar may be metabolized more quickly than with whole fruits, which can raise blood sugar and thus insulin levels. As a result, people who have sugar-restricted diets (such as diabetics) may need to be wary of tart cherry juice as a strategy for managing insomnia.
In general, it is advisable for anyone who is having serious sleeping problems to talk with a doctor or health professional who can discuss potential causes and remedies, including tart cherry juice if it’s appropriate in that situation.
Where Can I Buy Tart Cherry Juice?
Tart cherry juice is available in some grocery stores, many health food or natural food stores, and can also be found online through major retailers like Amazon.