If you follow health gurus, you may have heard a lot about superfoods – powerful and nutrient-rich foods touted as possible remedies for a variety of ailments ranging from hair loss to certain cancers. That raises the question, then, could a superfood help with insomnia?
Emerging research suggests that the Montmorency cherry, a popular sour-tasting fruit that originated in France, could be the next superfood for a better night’s rest.
We’ll share details on whether tart cherry juice helps you sleep, including the science behind this discovery and other potential health benefits of these cherries.
What are Tart Cherries?
Tart cherries are sour varieties of traditional commercial types like Rainier, Bing, and Lambert.
The Montmorency cherry gets its name from the Montmorency Valley in France, where it was first grown over 400 years ago. Farmers began growing this fruit in the United States around the early 19th century, and today, it makes up 95 percent of sour cherry production.
How Tart Cherry Juice Improves Sleep
Studies have shown that drinking this juice could help adults fall asleep faster and extend their sleeping time. One study showed an average increase of 84 minutes.
The experts point to two reasons why this tart fruit improves sleep. The first is that Montmorency cherries are a natural source of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
The second is proanthocyanidins, which give this food its bright red color. They say that proanthocyanidins help increase the presence of tryptophan, an essential amino acid. When we consume tryptophan, the brain converts it into serotonin, which fosters sleep.
They conclude that this unique combination may be why the cherries could improve insomnia symptoms.
More Tart Cherry Juice Benefits
Like many berries, tart cherries are high in antioxidants. An antioxidant helps prevent cell damage in living organisms, which some research suggests could reduce the risk of disease.
A Remedy for Jet Lag
This fruit could also be a natural cure for jet lag. When your sleep schedule is thrown off from traveling, try consuming this beverage to help you acclimate to your destination’s time zone.
Get More Info: How to Prevent Jet Lag
We covered that these cherries can help boost serotonin, which aids with sleep. However, some researchers say serotonin may also help with inflammation.
Tart Cherry Juice Recipe
This juice recipe has a slightly thicker texture, similar to a smoothie. Here’s what you’ll need:
- One ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate.
- Eight ounces of yogurt with a dash of water added. We recommend dairy-free options like coconut or almond yogurt. This is because dairy digests at a different rate than the other ingredients and could lead to gassiness and stomach aches.
- Ten drops of a natural sweetener like Stevia. However, you may want to skip this ingredient if your yogurt is already sweetened.
- Pour the juice into a cup.
- Add the sweetener (optional).
- Add the yogurt and water combination. For a ¾ cup of yogurt, you should add anywhere from 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of water.
- Mix well. This can be done by hand or in a blender.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much cherry extract should I take?
A 2012 study found that adults who consumed two 1-ounce servings of tart cherry juice every day for a week saw improvements in their sleep.
Do tart cherry capsules work better?
Some individuals may prefer to use cherry supplements to improve their slumber. There isn’t conclusive evidence that capsules are more effective than juice, and this may be a matter of what your personal preference is. For those who decide to use supplements instead, confirm they are made from Montmorency cherries specifically.
Are these safe for toddlers and babies?
Some healthcare professionals recommend this juice as a natural way to help kids sleep, particularly if they’re traveling. However, you should consult with your child’s doctor first to make sure they don’t have allergies or other negative reactions.
You should also avoid an added sweetener or sweetened yogurt in their juice mix. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under two don’t have any added sugar, while those two and older should have no more than 25 grams in a day.
Can it interfere with medications?
There is insufficient research that suggests sour cherry extract can impact medications you take. However, if you take any medications, we suggest consulting with your doctor before trying the juice or capsules.
Where can you buy Montmorency cherries?
Most people won’t be able to purchase them fresh in the store; they’re typically easier to find in frozen, dried, or concentrate form. Often, you’ll see them in pies and cakes, as well as sauces, preserves, and cocktails.
Sources and References:
-  “Montmorency Cherry”, Arbor Day Foundation
-  “Study: Tart Cherry Juice Increases Sleep Time in Adults with Insomnia”, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014
-  “Antioxidants – The Nutrition Source“, Harvard T.H. Chan
-  Nadine Herr, Christoph Bode, Daniel Duerschmied, “The Effects of Serotonin in Immune Cells”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2017
-  “The Truth About Tart Cherry Juice and Sleep”, Valley Sleep Center, 2012
-  “5 Ways To Help Your Children Sleep Well On Vacation”, Dr. Taz MD Integrative Medicine
-  “What to Do When Your Child Eats Too Much Sugar”, Cleveland Clinic, March 26, 2020