According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, at least half of the population suffers from insomnia.
It is estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months, and 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.
It is well documented that less sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression, among others. To combat this, roughly 4% of adults rely on sleeping pills for relief; but sleeping pills don’t work for everyone. For some, the pills provide well-documented side effects of their own.
So what if, at least for those who suffer from mild insomnia, there was another option? Of course there are melatonin tablets (the hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle). However, studies show this method is best used as a short term fix for incidences such as jet-lag or shift work.
Enter the tart cherry.
A 2014 study by researchers at Louisiana State University suggests that incorporating tart cherry juice (especially of the Montmorency variety) into your bedtime routine can increase sleep time and provide some insomnia relief by up to 90 minutes.
Not only is the tart cherry a natural source of melatonin, but researchers believe the ruby-red pigment of the cherry also plays a role. The pigment contains proanthocyanidins, which help to increase the presence of tryptophan. Tryptophan, as you may be aware, is an amino acid that helps with sleep.
According to the researchers:
“Even though the amount of tryptophan in Montmorency tart cherry juice is smaller than a normal dose given to aid sleep, the compounds in Montmorency tart cherries could prevent the tryptophan from breaking down so it’s able to work in the body more effectively,” Greenway explained. “These compounds may help to improve tryptophan bioavailability for serotonin synthesis, which could have a positive effect on sleep. Increasing serotonin also helps improve mood and decrease inflammation.”
What about those of us who don’t suffer from insomnia?
Well, Montmorency cherries are a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Antioxidants, and they’ve been known to decrease risks of heart disease.
Plus, unscientifically speaking, the cherry has been known to give vivid dreams. According to threads on reddit and other sources, users have experienced intense, dramatic, colorful dreams after taking just 8oz of tart cherry juice before bed.
So, regardless the reason for taking them…
Pass the cherries, please!
*Always be sure to consult with your doctor before using cherries for their medical benefits, as some compounds may cause drug interactions*