Cherry juice good for sleepIncreases levels of melatonin
Drinking cherry juice can improve both the quality and duration of sleep, a study has found.
Researchers from Northumbria University found that people who regularly drink Montomorency cherry juice get an extra 25 minutes a night of sleep.
They also found that the tart cherry juice "significantly increases" the levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone which regulates sleep as well as improving sleep quality.
The findings could benefit people who have difficulty sleeping due to insomnia, shift work or jet lag, said the researchers.
In the study, 20 healthy volunteers drank a 30ml serving of either tart cherry juice or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days.
Urine samples were collected from all the study participants before and during the investigation to determine levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that heavily influences the human sleep-wake cycle.
During the study the participants wore an actigraphy watch sensor which monitored their sleep and wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns.
The researchers found that when participants drank cherry juice for a week there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin (15-16%) as compared to the control condition and placebo drink samples.
The actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the cherry juice saw an increase of around 15 minutes in the time spent in bed, 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a 5-6 per cent increase in their 'sleep efficiency', a global measure of sleep quality.
Cherry juice drinkers reported less daytime napping time compared to their normal sleeping habits before the study and the napping times of the placebo group.
According to Dr Glyn Howatson, who led the research, this is the first study to show direct evidence that supplementing your diet with a tart Montomorency cherry juice concentrate leads to an increase in circulating melatonin and provides improvements in sleep amongst healthy adults.
Dr 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 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."
Study co-author Dr Jason Ellis, director of the Centre for Sleep Research at the university, said: "Although melatonin is available over the counter in other countries, it is not freely available in the UK.
"What makes these findings exciting is that the melatonin contained in tart cherry juice is sufficient to elicit a healthy sleep response.
"What’s more, these results provide us with more evidence surrounding the relationship between how we sleep and what we consume."
The study findings are to be published this week in the online edition of the European Journal of Nutrition.
This article was published on Wed 2 November 2011
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