Instead of valerian: According to studies, this fruit juice helps you fall asleep

cherry juice to fall asleep
Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / AlamaCreative

People who suffer from insomnia often use valerian. According to studies, another possibility is to drink cherry juice to fall asleep. You can read what’s behind the recommendation here.

Anyone who wants to use herbal remedies to remedy sleep problems will probably first and foremost use preparations with valerian. An alternative could also be sour cherries. Because this stone fruit contains small amounts of melatonin, cherry juice is said to help you fall asleep.

Cherry juice to fall asleep: That’s what studies say

Cherry juice is said to help you fall asleep quickly.
Cherry juice is said to help you fall asleep quickly.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / 931527)

Sour cherries (especially the Montmorency cherry) contain the sleep hormone melatonin, which controls the so-called circadian rhythm, i.e. the human day-night rhythm. On the other hand, there is also tryptophan in the fruit. This is an amino acid that is required for the production of serotonin and melatonin in the body. Therefore, cherry juice from sour cherries should not only help you fall asleep, but also increase the duration of sleep.

This is confirmed by nutritionist Beth Czerwony in an article by the American Cleveland Clinic: “Because tart cherries contain different enzymes, they actually keep tryptophan in the body longer. Not only does this help you fall asleep faster, it also sleeps longer.”

Various studies have examined how tart cherry juice can affect sleep:

  • A 2010 study looked at how their sleep changed in 15 elderly people with chronic insomnia after first taking a tart cherry juice blend for two weeks and then (after a two-week break) taking a placebo for two weeks. Compared to the placebo, the drink produced a significant reduction in insomnia (reducing the number of minutes awake after the onset of sleep). No such improvements were seen in sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to actually fall asleep), total sleep time, or sleep efficiency compared to placebo. The authors of the study summarize that the sour cherry juice concentrate can work just as well or even a little more effectively than valerian. Nevertheless, the effect of tart cherry juice is significantly lower than that of the evidence-based treatment of insomnia with sleeping pills.
  • In another 2012 study, 20 participants took either tart cherry juice or a placebo for a week. Total sleep time and overall sleep efficiency were markedly increased with cherry juice supplementation. According to the study authors, this indicates that a tart cherry juice concentrate improves the duration and quality of sleep and could be useful in the treatment of sleep disorders.
  • In a 2018 study, eight subjects with insomnia initially took 240 milliliters of cherry juice twice a day for two weeks and – after a two-week break – a placebo for two weeks. The study concludes that cherry juice can increase sleep duration by an average of 84 minutes and improve sleep efficiency.

Cherry juice to fall asleep: Unfortunately only wishful thinking

Even with insomnia, not everyone benefits from extra melatonin.
Even with insomnia, not everyone benefits from extra melatonin.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Mylene2401)

Although these and other studies sound promising, the consumer center does not consider them meaningful. The reason for this is the inconsistent implementation: Depending on the study, the effect of sour cherry juice mixtures, sour cherry concentrate or fresh sour cherry juice was examined. Therefore, no clear recommendations on the type of tart cherry preparation, dosage and duration of intake could be derived from the studies.

Also important to know: According to Quarks, too low a melatonin level can cause sleep disorders, but it doesn’t have to. In addition, melatonin is quickly broken down in the liver. Basically, experts see the effect of melatonin as an alternative sleep aid as overestimated: the effects of artificial melatonin on sleep are low. Ingo Fietze, head of the interdisciplinary sleep medicine center at the Berlin Charité, explains in the Quarks article: “Among the substances that promote sleep, melatonin is a very weak agent.” If you have a normal melatonin level in the evening, you even benefit from additional melatonin not.

By the way: other foods also contain melatonin, for example pistachios, goji berries, oatmeal or mushrooms. But even here the amounts are so small that according to a study (2020) it is wishful thinking to expect them to have an influence on sleep.

Cherry juice to fall asleep in a self-experiment

In a self-experiment, the author of a wellness and lifestyle website consumed 60 milliliters of tart cherry juice one hour before bedtime for two weeks – significantly less than the 240 milliliters that one of the above-mentioned studies administered to test subjects as a dose. Despite this, the author was able to determine that her sleep was relatively constant and undisturbed during this period. But she can’t say whether it was the sour cherry juice. Her sleep problems also had something to do with unhealthy habits shortly before bedtime, which she also discarded during the test period (keyword: “bedtime procrastination”).

If you would like to try cherry juice yourself to help you fall asleep, make sure that you use unsweetened juices, preferably organic. In this way you avoid unwanted preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors and added vitamins as well as the use of chemical-synthetic pesticides.

Conclusion: Sour cherry juice as a sleep aid is relatively harmless and cheaper than expensive melatonin preparations. But its effect is probably very small or non-existent. If you suffer from sleep problems, it is therefore better to have them examined and treated by a doctor.


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