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Insomnia? Pucker Up for Tart Cherry Juice and Snooze

A small study from Louisiana State University suggests that 8 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice ingested twice daily may help older-adult insomniacs sleep better at night.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting in San Diego at the end of April, showed that older-adult subjects with insomnia who drank tart cherry juice both morning and evening over a 2-week period increased their sleep time by nearly 90 minutes.

Study Details

  • In a randomized crossover clinical trial, seven older adults (average age, 68) with insomnia consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for 2 weeks and then, following a 2-week washout period, consumed a placebo beverage twice daily for a second 2-week period.
  • Subjects’ sleep was studied in a controlled setting, using overnight polysomnography to evaluate sleep efficiency, including onset and duration.
  • Participants completed questionnaires related to sleep, fatigue, depression and anxiety.
  • Researchers conducted blood work on each participant.
  • When subjects drank the Montmorency tart cherry juice in the morning and evening, they were able to
    sleep more than an hour longer each night (averaging 84 minutes) than they did when taking the placebo, and sleep also tended to be more efficient.

The scientists pointed out in a press release that
Montmorency tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. While previous research has suggested that tart cherry juice has sleep-enhancing benefits, these study authors wanted to understand if the benefits were due to the melatonin content or to another component in the juice.

They believe the ruby-red pigments in the juice, known as proanthocyanidins, which are abundant in Montmorency tart cherries, also play a role. In the study, tart cherry juice helped to increase the availability of tryptophan, an essential amino acid and a serotonin precursor that helps with sleep.

Tart cherry juice contains about 130 calories per 8 ounces, so if you decide to add this regimen to your diet, be sure to account for the extra 260 liquid calories per day.

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