Preliminary studies on Montmorency tart cherries, one of the few food sources of melatonin, have explored the quality and duration of sleep, insomnia and sleep efficiency.

We all know the importance of sleep – but what you might not know is that being tired isn’t just about feeling grumpy. While a restful night can lead to a more productive day, inadequate sleep has emerged as a public health crisis – linked to health problems like weight gain and cardiovascular disease.  So it’s crucial to prioritize sleep.

While the research is still emerging and more studies are needed to confirm the role of tart cherries on achieving a better night’s sleep, the evidence is growing.

A look at the science.

Sleep time: A pilot study conducted at Louisiana State University found that Montmorency tart cherry juice extended sleep time by 84 minutes.  In this placebo-controlled, crossover study, 8 healthy men and women (ages 50 and older) with chronic insomnia were randomized to a tart cherry group (2 weeks) or a placebo control group (2 weeks), separated by a 2-week washout period.  Those in the tart cherry group drank about 8 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice in the morning and at night, 1-2 hours before bedtime, for 14 days.  When compared to the placebo, the tart cherry juice was found to extend sleep time by 84 minutes and increase sleep efficiency on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

Pilot study of the tart cherry juice for the treatment of insomnia and investigation of mechanisms.

Sleep quality and duration: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover designed study, 20 men and women (ages 18-40) with no reported sleep disturbances drank either 2 servings of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate (60 mL mixed with water) or a placebo beverage  for 7  days.  The tart cherry consumption group slept about 40 minutes longer on average and had up to a 6% increase in sleep efficiency, compared to the placebo group. Circulating blood melatonin levels were also increased.

Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.

Insomnia: In a pilot study of 15 men and women (ages 65 and older) with chronic insomnia, tart cherry consumption resulted in significant improvements in the Insomnia Severity Index and a 62-minute improvement in waking after sleep onset.21 The participants drank two 8-ounce servings of Montmorency tart cherry juice a day for 2 weeks. Compared to the placebo drink, the tart cherry juice was associated with significant improvements on all self-reported sleep variables.

Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: A pilot study.

For ideas on how to incorporate tart cherries into your diet, click here.