A new study out this month finds that tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s sleep, but there are study limitations and it probably doesn’t have as strong of an effect as other methods for curing insomnia. Nonetheless, here’s another reason to enjoy some cherries or cherry juice today.
There are many health benefits of cherries. This fruit is a great source of vitamins, especially Vitamins A and C, and potassium. Thanks to the flavonoids they contain, such as pectin and anthocyanins, cherries can help in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and cancer. They can also help in muscle recovery and reduce inflammation, as well as decrease the risk of some common problems associated with aging (i.e arthritis, gout and rheumatism).
These may not be all the benefits of eating cherries, though. The Journal of Medicinal Food published a new study this month, Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia: A Pilot Study, which found that tart cherry juice can help fight insomnia. Researchers revealed this is probably due to the melatonin found in cherries. This natural antioxidant aids in regulating a body’s sleep-wake cycles. Dr Russel J. Reiter from the University of Texas Health Science Center explained: “When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body’s natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep.”
Researchers conducted a randomized pilot study, analyzing the sleep habits of 15 elderly adults. The volunteers drank a glass of unsweetened cherry juice every morning and evening for two weeks. For another two weeks, the participants were given a different type of juice. The study revealed significant reductions in insomnia symptoms after drinking the cherry juice. The subjects slept much better and slept 17 minutes more.
Limitations to the Study
As both the researchers and others have already brought up, however, there are important limitations to the study. The researchers report that there were “statistically significant pre- to post-treatment improvements…. Effect sizes were moderate and in some cases negligible,” however. Additionally, the results were not as strong as other proven methods of dealing with insomnia. “These effects… were considerably less than those for evidence-based treatments of insomnia: hypnotic agents and cognitive-behavioral therapies for insomnia,” the study authors write. And, a study group of 15 people, all elderly, makes it hard to make strong, generalizable conclusions.
Lastly, the study was funded entirely by CherryPharm Inc., the company that makes the tart cherry juice used in the study. For more of a critique on the study methods and results, head on over to “Cherry juice for insomnia” on NHS Choices.
Despite the limitations, the study shows that cherries and cherry juice may be helpful for more than what they’re already commonly known to be good for. Need a good night’s sleep? Try some cherry juice… and let us know what you find!