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Cherries or Cherry Juice to Combat Those Insomnia Blues

Cherries at a marketIsn't it great when you can drink a delicious beverage and it turns out to be healthy and good for you too? One such drink is pure, natural cherry juice which is the perfect alternative to fresh cherries when the latter are not in season – basically for ten months of the year. During the other two months, treat yourself to some fresh cherries as these are a great source of melatonin, making the perfect bedtime snack. In fact studies have shown that a regular intake of cherries or cherry juice at bedtime can give the insomniac up to 90 more minutes sleep at night.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a most common sleep disorder, affecting nearly everyone at some point in their lives. While it may sometimes be short-lived and related to an identifiable cause of stress (such as difficulty in sleeping the night before a big test or other important event), insomnia can become a chronic condition leaving you in great distress.

Why do cherries help with the symptoms of insomnia?

June and July are cherry season and one of the last true fruit “seasons” because cherries are much loved. The fresh fruit disappears from the store shelves in the northern hemisphere during the rest of the year. Cherries help with insomnia because they are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin which is the chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep. When they are out of season, replace with dried cherries and cherry juice (especially tart cherry juice, which contains less sugar). Researchers who’ve studied the melatonin content of cherries recommend eating them an hour before bedtime. In a recent small study at the Louisiana State University, researchers arranged for seven older adults with insomnia to drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks of no juice, and then two more weeks of drinking a placebo beverage. Compared to the placebo, drinking the cherry juice resulted in an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time each night. One of the study co-authors, Frank L. Greenway, tells us: “Proanthocyanidins, or the ruby red pigments in tart cherry juice, contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan, letting it go to work longer in your body,” he says. Montmorency cherries are particularly high in those compounds so Greenway believes cherry juice is the safer way to improve sleep quality instead of going for pharmaceuticals with their toxic chemicals and frequent side effects. He adds that “Sleeping pills in the elderly are associated with a 4-fold increase in the prevalence of falls which, at that age, can result in fractures that require surgery.”

How common is insomnia?

It is estimated that up to one-third of American adults over the age of 65 have insomnia – they have trouble sleeping more than three nights per week.

Make your own cherry juice

If you would like to try making your own cherry juice, here is the recipe for one helping. Ingredients:
  • 1 ounce of organic tart cherry concentrate.
  • 8 ounces of organic kefir (or yogurt with a little water added).
  • 10 drops of whole liquid stevia or other natural sweetener.
  • Pour 1 ounce of tart cherry juice into cup.
  • Add your natural sweetener.
  • Add your raw kefir or yogurt/water combo (3/4 cup organic yogurt and 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup filtered water) and mix well.
Adjust the amounts to make more helpings, enjoy and sleep well! insomnia1