Tart Cherry Juice Is Going Viral as a Treatment for Insomnia, but Does It Work? Experts Weigh In

With over 64 million views on Tik Tok, a video about the drink's sleep-boosting qualities has inspired thousands of users seeking improved rest to try it.

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, you're probably constantly on the lookout for tips and tricks that make it easier to slumber. The latest sleep aid trend? Drinking a cup of tart cherry juice before bed. With over 64 million views and counting, a TikTok video that popularized the drink as a way to help insomnia sufferers sleep soundly is commanding national attention.

While users are lauding tart cherry juice as a miracle sleep aid, can it actually help treat sleep disorders? According to our experts, more research is needed for a definitive answer.

Why Tart Cherry Juice May Help With Sleep

The belief that tart cherry juice may work as a sleep aid is not unfounded. "Tart cherry juice may have a positive effect on sleep due to tryptophan and melatonin," says Mia Syn, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and the author of Mostly Plant-Based. "Melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness and helps with sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid needed by the body to produce melatonin."

A 2012 study followed 20 adults who drank one ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate 30 minutes before bed over the course of seven days. Researchers found that the juice increased melatonin levels, sleep time, and sleep efficiency in people who drank the juice compared to those who were given a placebo.

cherry juice
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Tart Cherry Juice vs. Melatonin

Despite the fact that tart cherry juice contains helpful sleep aids, like melatonin and tryptophan, experts say the two aren't interchangeable. "The amount of melatonin in tart cherry juice is less than that of traditional melatonin supplements," says Syn. Melatonin, which is a chemical produced by a gland in our brain, senses the sun is going down and gets secreted to help us fall asleep.

Of the two, melatonin has broader sleep coverage. "Melatonin is actually beneficial for helping to fall asleep and stay asleep," says Benjamin Bring, DO, at Ohio Health. "Whereas, the tart cherry juice seems to be more for improvement in sleep quality as opposed to actually getting into sleep."

Should You Use Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep?

While there is some validity to using tart cherry juice as a sleep aid, more research is needed before the beverage can be recognized as a legitimate treatment. "There doesn't seem to be conclusive evidence that this is a really good sleep aid," says Dr. Bring. "Basically every single study says more research needs to be done." Most existing studies have limited participants, he notes.

Alternatives to Tart Cherry Juice

Rather than using tart cherry juice to help you fall asleep at night, try sticking to strong sleep habits, instead. "Try to to stay in a cold, dark room, go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, and avoid screens at nighttime as much as you can," says Dr. Bring. "There's a lot of other variables and a lot of other good sleep aids that we would do first, such as melatonin, ahead of potentially recommending tart cherry juice."

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