You may be familiar with tart cherries if you like to cook. Tart cherries (also known as sour cherries) are used in dishes like pies, preserves, soups, cakes, tarts, sauces, mixed cocktails, and more. But did you know that these tasty fruits might also help you get a better night’s rest? Tart cherry juice could be the solution — studies have shown that it can help you to sleep longer and better.
What are tart cherries?
Two of the most common varieties of tart cherries are Montmorency and Balaton, which often come from Michigan. They are sourer than sweet cherries like Rainier, Bing, and Lambert cherries. They also are believed to have higher antioxidant contents than sweet cherries, giving them the potential to have stronger health benefits.
Tart cherries are rich sources of antioxidants, in particular anthocyanins, which are responsible for the purple pigmentation of these fruits. They possess a strong antioxidant capacity as well as anti-inflammatory qualities, making them disease-fighting tools. Tart cherry juice concentrate, specifically, seems to have the highest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities compared to frozen, canned, or dried cherries.
Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. After eating tart cherries, melatonin levels rise significantly in test subjects which often contributes to improved sleep.
In one study, 20 participants were given either placebo or 30 milliliters of concentrated tart cherry juice within 30 minutes of waking and 30 minutes before bed each day. The cherry juice group saw significant increases in time spent in bed, total sleep time, and total sleep efficiency. People who drank cherry juice slept an average of 39 minutes longer versus placebo.
In another study, people with insomnia drank two 8-ounce servings of tart cherry juice in the morning and the same before bed for two weeks. Scores for insomnia severity were significantly reduced after supplementation, and participants also woke up fewer times during the night.
How to incorporate tart cherry juice
If you suffer from sleep disturbances and feel like you’ve tried everything, give tart cherry juice a try. Tart cherry juice may be the easiest and most convenient option; you’d have to eat a whole lot of fresh cherries to equal a few ounces of juice.
Drink a cup of tart cherry juice about an hour before bed, or twice a day (in the morning and before bed). Look for a high-quality tart cherry juice (without added sugars) or tart cherry juice concentrate at your local health food store and follow the recommendations on the bottle or ask your healthcare provider.