I always loved cherries, since girlhood. I recall going to the store with a small group of neighborhood girlfriends and buying almost a pound of cherries! We ate them with delight. But, I did not know any of their health benefits. Also, I don’t recall becoming sleepy or drowsy!
Just recently, I read on a container of cherries that they are rich in melatonin. That evening, when I could not get to sleep (due to insomnia) I put them to the test. I ate a small bowl full, and actually became really drowsy, laid down, and had a restful, short sleep (I had to get up at 5 am). Summer is here, and now they are my favorite #bedtimesnackfood.
- According to one study, a handful of cherries or a glass of tart cherry juice helped increased participants’ sleep by 25 minutes. (Book: Sleep by Dr. Arlene K. Unger).
- According to another study, with cherry juice consumption, there were significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency; and over all, tart cherry juice concentrate as a supplement benefits sleep duration, and might be helpful in managing disturbed sleep.
- One study reports that tart cherry juice is useful in treating insomnia in older adults.
- Interestingly, one study wanted to find out why cherry juice benefits sleep, i.e. if it was just the melatonin or another component in Montmorency tart cherries. Findings show it’s a combination of melatonin (hormone) and tryptophan (an essential amino acid). The juice inhibits an enzyme that degrade the body’s natural tryptophan, allowing tryptophan bioavailability for serotonin synthesis, producing a positive effect on sleep.
Interestingly, the type of cherry (Montmorency tart cherries) and the form of cherries (juice versus fresh, whole cherries), the amount (e.g. an 8 oz glass), and the time (twice daily for two weeks) of consumption seem to be most beneficial. But, I am telling you, after just eating a bowl full of fresh red cherries, around 2 or 3 am, I felt more drowsy and dosed back to sleep. But, findings suggest that it is most beneficial when we consume cherries routinely to get best results. I suggest that when fresh cherries aren’t in season, tart cherry juice can be used, or both at the same time!