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Can't Sleep? Drink This

A surprising food can help people sleep.

Source: istock

Do you have trouble sleeping? Many of us do. The good news? A study in the American Journal of Therapy found that drinking 240 mL (about a cup) of cherry juice twice a day increased sleep time and sleep efficiency.1

Why do cherries help? Tart cherries have been reported to contain high levels of phytochemicals including melatonin which is a molecule critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in humans.

Cherry juice also increases tryptophan availability which is related to serotonin, the feel-good chemical in your brain. But, several studies have also linked cherry juice to reducing inflammation, which may partially be responsible for the improvement. Inflammation can lead to pain or irritation which keeps you awake.2

In another study, participants were given a placebo or cherry juice for seven days.3 The study found that total melatonin content was significantly elevated in the cherry juice group. For those who didn't drink the juice in the baseline and placebo trials, there was no difference in their sleep. Also, there were significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency for those who drank the cherry juice.

Finding ways to help people sleep better is critically important overall in regulating our mood, appetite and making decisions. I find that my clients often struggle with their appetite, do more emotional eating and make mindless decisions with food when they don't get a good night's sleep.


1. Losso JN1, Finley JW1, Karki N1, Liu AG2, Prudente A3, Tipton R2, Yu Y2, Greenway FL2. Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. Am J Ther. 2018 Mar/Apr;25(2):e194-e201. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000584.

2. Quinlan R, Hill JA. The Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice in Aiding Recovery After Intermittent Exercise. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2019 Oct 15:1-7. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2019-0101.

3. Howatson G1, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16. doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7. Epub 2011 Oct 30.