What Are Tart Cherries?
Tart cherries are sour varieties of traditional commercial types like Rainier, Bing, and Lambert.
The Montmorency cherry1 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.1
Does Cherry Juice Really Help You Sleep?
Studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice could help adults fall asleep faster and extend their sleeping time. One study2 showed an average increase of 84 minutes.
The experts from this study point to two reasons why this tart fruit improves sleep. The first is that Montmorency cherries are a natural source of melatonin a hormone that helps facilitate sleep.2
The second reason 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.2 They conclude that this unique combination may be why the cherries could improve insomnia symptoms.
Other Benefits of Cherry Juice
Like many berries, tart cherries are high in antioxidants3. An antioxidant helps prevent cell damage in living organisms, which some research suggests could reduce the risk of disease.3
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
Earlier we covered that these cherries can help boost serotonin, which aids with sleep.2 However, some researchers say serotonin may also help with inflammation4.
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 study5 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 people 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.
Is tart cherry juice safe for babies?
Some healthcare professionals recommend6 tart cherry juice as a natural way to help babies and 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 Pediatrics7 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 tart cherries interfere with medications?
There is insufficient research that suggests sour cherry extract can impact any 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 Montmorency cherries fresh in the store; they’re typically easier to find in frozen, dried, or concentrated form. Often, you’ll see them in pies and cakes, as well as sauces, preserves, and cocktails.
What time should I drink cherry juice for sleep?
We recommend drinking tart cherry juice for sleep at least one or two hours before your bedtime. This will give the cherries enough time to help you feel sleepy and ensure you’re not constantly waking up in the night for multiple bathroom breaks.
Is tart cherry juice better than cherry juice for sleep?
Yes, tart cherry juice is better than cherry juice for sleep. It’s the specific ingredients in tart cherries that can help them facilitate sleep. Drinking regular cherry juice may wind up putting too much sugar in your system before bed, which can have the opposite effect you’re looking for, leaving you with more energy.
How much melatonin is in cherry juice?
The amount of melatonin in cherry juice will depend on how many grams of cherries are used in the juice.
A 2018 study8 on the effectiveness of tart cherry juice for insomnia used a dose of juice derived from 100 grams of cherries. According to the researchers, the amount of melatonin in that dose was equal to .135 micrograms, and they added that the normal amount of melatonin recommended for sleep is between .5 and 5 milligrams.8 This supports the notion that other ingredients in tart cherries, rather than just melatonin, help make tart cherry juice a good sleep aid.
Read More: Best Melatonin Supplements
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
- “Montmorency Cherry”. Arbor Day Foundation. Webpage accessed October 5, 2024.
- “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 School of Public Health. Webpage accessed October 5, 2024.
- Herr, Nadine., Bode, Christoph., Duerschmied, Daniel. “The Effects of Serotonin in Immune Cells”. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. 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. 2020.
- Losso PhD, Jack N., et al. “Pilot Study of Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms”. National Library of Medicine. 2018.