Cherry Juice Supports Sleep

One of my health secrets is to drink a glass of CherryActive every day. I sleep like a log and this study confirms why.

Researchers from Louisiana State University have found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia. This is actually better than the results with any sleeping pill.

The Montmorency cherry is especially high in melatonin, which is the natural sleep hormone the brain produces to maintain sleep. A shot of CherryActive, which is a pure concentrate you put in a glass of water, also has the antioxidant power of 103 carrots (amazing isn’t it?) and is much lower GL than any other fruit juice because the main sugar is xylose and the Montmorency cherry is not that sweet.

As well as providing antioxidants it is a rich source of polyphenols and these are thought to help preserve tryptophan, from which the brain makes melatonin.

Read this article in the Daily Mail for the full story on the study.

Given the terrible side effects of sleeping pills this is an important study.

Other Nutritional solutions to sleep problems

Nutrients play a key role in producing the hormones that aid sleep, and also ensuring the body is able to calm down.

Your body makes melatonin from another hormone called serotonin. Natural sources of melatonin include porridge oats, sour cherries (eg as the juice concentrate Cherry Active), bananas, peanuts, grape skins, walnuts and liquorice. It is also concentrated in herbs such as St John’s wort, sage and feverfew. Avoiding caffeine, at least after midday, is a no brainer because caffeine suppresses melatonin for up to ten hours (1). We recommend none after midday, and that includes green tea, if you have difficulty getting to sleep.

You can buy melatonin as an over-the-counter medicine in the US, or on prescription from a doctor in the UK. You can alternatively supplement 5-HTP, an amino acid which your body uses to make melatonin. There’s evidence that supplementing 200mg of 5-HTP half an hour before bed improves sleep (2) which is why I include it in my Chill Food.

Several minerals and vitamins are also involved in good sleep. Calcium and particularly magnesium are calming and aid muscle relaxation. Being highly stressed or eating a lot of sugar, lowers magnesium levels. Magnesium is found in seeds, nuts, green vegetables and seafood; calcium is in these foods and also in dairy produce. Most supplements contain both. Try supplementing 600mg of calcium and 400mg of magnesium before bed. This is especially helpful if you wake in the night with stiff muscles.

A 2014 study from Oxford University has also found that higher levels of omega 3 (an essential fat found in oily fish) in the diet are associated with better sleep, at least in children.2 Those with higher levels of the omega 3 fat DHA experienced less resistance to going to sleep, fewer parasomnias (eg disorders such as night terrors, sleep walking or restless leg syndrome) and total sleep disturbance. This correlation increased where the DHA ratios where higher in relation to Arachidonic Acid – a fat found in meat and dairy products.

Further Information

Read my special report on how to get a good night’s sleep for more top tips. See HOLFORDirect for Cherry Active, Mood Food and Chill Food which both contain 5-htp.


  1. T C Birdsall, ‘5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor’, Alternative Medical Review, 1998, vol. 3(4), pp. 271-80
  2. P. Peppard et al., ‘Sleep disorders linked to heavy drinking in men’, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, April 2007