You hear a lot about superfoods, powerful and nutrient-rich foods that health gurus tout as miracles for a variety of ailments ranging from hair loss to cancer.
But did you know that this juice is also potentially a superfood that can help older adults (as well as kids and babies) sleep better?
Before you go out and buy a bottle and take it to bed, there are a few things you should know. First, not all cherries have this effect. The specific fruit studied was the Montmorency tart cherry. It contains high levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep.
And that’s not all. The Montmorency variety gets its dark red color from proanthocyanidins. If you’ve ever consumed wine and noticed the red tannins that drip down the glass, this is due to proanthocyanidins. Not only do these have antioxidant properties, but they also help your body process tryptophan, which then converts to serotonin to help you sleep.
Before we get too technical and go down a chemical rabbit hole, let’s back up and explore what you can do to use tart cherry juice to help battle insomnia.
What are Tart Cherries?
Tart cherries are sour varieties of traditional commercial types like Rainier, Bing, and Lambert. The two sour types you’ll come across are Montmorency (our choice to help battle insomnia) and Balaton. They grow in Michigan.
Most people won’t be able to find them fresh in the store, but they’re easier to find in frozen or concentrate form. You’ll often see them commercially in pies and cakes, as well as sauces, preserves, and cocktails.
Even though they have a tart taste and aren’t nearly as sweet as the other varieties, they’re becoming more popular. Perhaps it’s because our tastes or evolving, or maybe it’s because of their sleep and antioxidant benefits.
How Tart Cherry Juice Improves Sleep
Studies have shown that drinking this juice can help adults fall asleep faster and lengthen their sleeping time for between 60 and 90 minutes. The average from one study showed an increase in sleep of 84 minutes. So, before you reach for an Ambien, read this!
We touched on this a little bit in the introduction, and we won’t get too technical. Pinky promise.
There are two main reasons that tart cherry juice improves your bedtime, and we think that these two factors combined are also more powerful together than when isolated.
- Sour cherries are rich in melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you fall asleep
- They also contain proanthocyanidins, which as we mentioned help your body convert tryptophan (what is commonly found in turkey) to serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that also helps you regulate sleep.
We think that by combining these two into one powerful superfood, instead of isolating them as a melatonin capsule and a turkey drumstick, amplifies the effect and makes this an effective sleep aid.
Like many berries, tart cherries are high in antioxidants. As the name suggests, an antioxidant prevents oxidation in living organisms, including humans. Oxidation is responsible for all types of health issues, including disease and aging. Consuming antioxidants can help offset these effects.
A Remedy for Jet Lag
Because they’re rich in melatonin, this fruit is also a powerful and natural aid to help with jet lag. If your sleep schedule is off, consume tart jerry juice and you’ll have a better chance of acclimating to the new and temporary schedule.
People who are able to increase the level of serotonin in their bodies also have decreased levels of inflammation. Since this fruit is known to contain tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, it’s logical that this fruit can also help with inflammation. Serotonin is also a natural mood booster that many people take for depression. So, not only could this juice help with inflammation, but it might also make you happier!
Tart Cherry Juice Recipe
If you’re resistant to adding a lot of juice to your diet, this recipe is more like a smoothie that’s rich in both antioxidants and protein.
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 tummy aches.
- Ten drops of a natural sweetener like stevia. You may want to skip this ingredient if your yogurt is already sweetened.
These steps are simple and fail proof.
- Pour the juice into a cup.
- Add sweetener (optional).
- Add the yogurt and water combination (anywhere from two tablespoons to one-quarter cup of water for a three-quarter cup container of yogurt)
- Mix well. This can be done by hand, but you’ll get better consistency in a blender.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the proper dosage to take for sleep?
While the ideal amount will vary depending on the individual, it’s recommended to consume between one and two servings of the above recipe per day. If time permits, drink this concoction once in the morning and then before bed. Or, if you’d prefer a single dose, drink it about an hour before bedtime.
If you find that one single dose isn’t effective, you may need to up it to two.
Are there capsules available in the market?
Yes, it seems like there’s a capsule for everything these days. You can find capsules available online from a variety of retailers. Make sure you look for the Montmorency variety on the label.
Are these safe for toddlers and babies?
Yes. However, check with your doctor to make sure your little one doesn’t have any allergies to cherries or other varieties of stone fruit that could cause a reaction. Also, when mixing the concentrate with the yogurt source, we still recommend going dairy-free. If you’re concerned about the sugar in the yogurt, opt for a plain version and add Stevia drops to taste.
Can it interfere with medications?
Cherries are high in Vitamins A and C, which can interfere with a handful of medications. Some cancer medications like bortezomib may lose effectiveness in the presence of too much ascorbic acid (also known as Vitamin C). They can also interact with Aspirin and Tylenol by interfering with the way the drug is processed through the kidneys.
Before you panic, these interactions are unlikely and insignificant when observed. If you have concerns, please consult with your physician.
The effects of tart cherry juice on insomnia is a relatively recent discovery that was made only within the last five years. Montmorency cherries are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and incredibly effective and helping adults, seniors, children, and babies fall asleep faster and rest better throughout the night.
This discovery goes to show that Mother Nature is the world’s most powerful and complete medicine cabinet.
Sources and References:
- Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia: A Pilot Study – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov