Forget a warm cup of cocoa! Drinking cherry juice twice a day will give you 39minutes of extra rest
Researchers say the juice could help athletes recover from injury as well as people with insomnia or jet lag
Each serving of the tart cherry juice concentrate was estimated to contain the equivalent of 90 100 tart cherries
Lavender pillows, warm cups of cocoa and a relaxing going-to-bed routine, are all popular ways to reach the land of nod.
Now researchers have found a fruity solution for those who struggle to get to sleep or find themselves waking too early in the morning.
An international team found that when healthy adults had two daily glasses of tart cherry juice, they rested an average 39 minutes longer.
This broke down as around 25 minutes of extra sleep and 14 more minutes spent relaxing in bed.
They also found they woke less often when in bed compared to when they drank a non-cherry fruit cocktail.
The study was conducted at Northumbria University and has now appeared in the European Journal of Nutrition.
Participants were given two servings of Montmorency cherry juice concentrate diluted with half a pint of water, or an alternative fruit drink for seven consecutive days – once when they woke up and another before bed.
They were also asked to abstain from eating a list of foods, known to contain or influence melatonin – a powerful antioxidant that is key to regulating our sleep-wake cycles.
The researchers then tracked their sleeping habits using actigraphs (watches that sense movement) and questionnaires. Urine samples were taken to measure the levels of melatonin in the system.
They found the cherry drink led to longer sleep time, less daytime napping and better sleep efficiency (the ratio of time spent in bed to time spent sleeping) among the 20 participants.
The researchers attribute the sleep benefits to the melatonin content of the red fruit.
Each serving of the tart cherry juice concentrate was estimated to contain the equivalent of 90 – 100 tart cherries, which “significantly elevated” the level of melatonin in the bodies of the participants.
Dr Glyn Howatson, an exercise physiologist, said: “We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise.
“Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process, which is often forgotten.
“These results show that tart cherry juice concentrate can be used to facilitate sleep in healthy adults and, excitingly, has the potential to be applied as a natural intervention, not only to athletes, but to other populations with insomnia and general disturbed sleep from shift work or jet lag.”
It is thought that a third of people in the UK will experience bouts of insomnia during their lives. The condition, which is classed as being unable to get to sleep or stay asleep long enough to feel refreshed the next day, is more common among women and older people.
While more research is necessary before medical professionals turn to cherries as a sole treatment for sleep disorders, the scientists conclude that tart cherry juice concentrate could be a viable “adjunct intervention for disturbed sleep across a number of scenarios.”