cherries, powdered cherries

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Many people do. Some folks overcome their insomnia with prescription medication, but the side effects discourage many from taking drugs like zolpidem (Ambien) or eszopiclone (Lunesta). People often take OTC sleeping pills such as Sominex or Tylenol PM, but these medicines are not intended for long-term use. (You can learn why in our Show 1067 with Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.) Could a simple beverage help you get to sleep?

Tart Cherry Juice as a Sleep Aid:

Q. I have found a wonderful sleep aid. I am 94 and was having sleep problems until I found something that really works for me.

I drink about a half cup of pure tart cherry juice every night before bedtime. Even after getting up to visit the bathroom, I go right back to sleep.

Using Tart Cherry Juice to Get to Sleep:

A. Thanks for the testimonial. Drinking tart cherry juice has been shown to improve sleep quality, perhaps because Montmorency (tart) cherries contain melatonin (European Journal of Nutrition, Dec. 2012).  We would worry about someone your age taking melatonin pills because, like sleeping pills, they can increase the risk for fracture (Age and Ageing, Nov. 2016).

Tart cherry juice seems unlikely to cause dizziness or grogginess, however, because the dose of melatonin is quite low. We are not aware of other side effects from cherries. You may have hit upon the best sleep aid for you.

Readers who are interested in tart cherry juice and other natural ways to get to sleep may wish to consult our newly revised Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. This information is provided as an online resource, as it is too long to print and mail. If you buy it, you will be emailed a link just for you that allows you to visit it whenever you wish, as many times as you like. You will be able to read it on any device that you have connected to the internet. Be sure to check your email for the link and keep it where you can find it easily.

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  1. Mary
    New York

    I was told that Tart cherry juice can help reduce uric acid levels Anyone know if this is true or has used it for this purpose?

  2. Claire

    Costco has organic Montmorency cherries in 1lb, 4 oz packages so you also get the fiber, but they do contain sugar. So easy to grab as a snack. Great in granola. Trader Joe’s has tart cherry juice. Less expensive than most places. Both seem to help inflammation.

  3. Pat

    I use valerian, available at health food store and some pharmacies. I started using it when my husband was ill and when he had bouts of pain during the night. He had no trouble waking me and I had no trouble going back to sleep. No side effects, such as nightmares, etc.

  4. Valerie
    Greenville, SC

    Tart cherries come in a pill form, too! Found mine at my local health food store!


    I am taking two tart cherry juice capsules each night before I go to bed. They are working great. It’s easier than lugging all those bottles of juice home from the grocery store in the winter.

  6. Sharon

    Mae B what about medical marijuana for a sleep remedy ?

  7. charles emory crutchfield

    What is the sugar content in each 1/2 cup of juice?

  8. Lee
    Delray Beach, Fl

    What do you mix with the cherry juice? It’s very tart!

  9. Pat
    Canfield, Ohio

    Do tart Montmorency cherries include the black cherries or just the sour red ones used for pies?

  10. Jim

    I have just started using this but it is because I suffer from sciatic nerve problems and I read that this tart cherry juice is also an anti-inflammatory. Now, I’m confused!! Can anyone clear this up?

  11. Susan

    My herbalist recommended collagen hydrolysate (gelatin from kosher beef), one tablespoon twice a day. I take half of that and it helps me sleep.

  12. Liz

    I am a big believer in tart cherry juice. But isn’t your statement above a bit misleading?
    “We would worry about someone your age taking melatonin pills because, like sleeping pills, they can increase the risk for fracture.”
    It isn’t the sleeping pill or melatonin that increases the risk, but the side effect of grogginess. Or are you saying the ingredients of the pill itself increases the risk of broken bones?

    • Ang

      The phrasing made me wonder the same thing about why sleep aids would cause fracture. I’m gonna go ahead and assume it’s the grogginess factor causing a fall, being that that explanation makes more sense.

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