Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep: Better than Tylenol PM?

Photo credit: TimWilson

While vacationing in Florida at my parents’ house, bedtime came quickly the first night and out came the tart cherry juice. At first I thought my wild parents decided to enjoy another glass of red wine, which I wouldn’t put past them in their rowdy retirement lifestyle that now includes late-night line dancing and swims with alligators. My dad–nutrition questionner extraordinnaire–poured himself a 4-oz. glass. “I’ve had so much trouble sleeping lately and the last few nights with this magic elixir have been amazing!”

We all have trouble sleeping occasionally, and it’s true that foods naturally rich in the antioxidant and sleep hormone melatonin (tart cherries, bananas, tomatoes, oats, rice bran, sweet corn, wheatgrass juice, and ginger) or the amino acid and serotonin precursor tryptophan (soy, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, beans, and tofu) can help our noisy brains take it down a notch when our heads hit the pillow. But, how much sleepy food do we need and how many calories can we afford just to get a good night’s rest?

Since my first pregnancy nearly 7 years ago, I got in the habit of enjoying an open-face peanut butter or almond butter and banana sandwich at bedtime, to not only help prevent a ravenous 3 AM wake-up, but to calm my unruly hormonal brain which would otherwise start recounting 4th grade spelling bees. Since I now chase 3 young kids and dirty dishes from dawn till dusk, falling asleep at bedtime isn’t usually an issue. But on nights when I’m extra “busy,” could tart cherry juice work just as well as my PB&B? This week, I’ve tested it out:

Keep in mind this test was done on an 8-day vacation where the biggest stressor was deciding whether or not to take the morning swim in the backyard pool or the large club poolbut still, there was enough activity that winding down at the end of the day may have been tricky.

How I cherried: 4 oz Very Cherre 15-30 minutes before bed: 65 calories, 10.5 g sugar. Bedtime was 10-10:30 PM. I know it’s vacation, but the kids are up at 5:30 sometimes. Can you blame me?

What happened: Fell asleep within 5 minutes of head hitting the pillow, except the night I had the Dixie Chick’s “There’s Your Trouble” stuck in my head. That night it took 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. No trouble here!

So?: If falling asleep or staying asleep are potential problems, tart cherry juice is definitely worth a try. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re getting a hefty dose of antioxidants, some potential arthritis relief, and half your day’s supply of vitamin C in a low-cal, 4-oz glass. And, there’s a chance having the juice in the AM and the PM may work even better than solely @ bedtime (according to Dr. Weil).

This just in… you MUST try The Sleep Doctor’s Sleep Slim Smoothie courtesy of Dr. Oz. Sweet Dreams!

What other foods or drinks help YOU unwind?

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9 Responses to Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep: Better than Tylenol PM?

  1. Stefan Lopatkiewicz says:

    I have been told that cherry juice (which for me the tarter the better) is also good for arthritis, and I have been following that lead in taking diluted cherry juice extract from Michigan as a liquid dietary supplement several times a week. Any views on that angle?

  2. Pingback: Sundowner Smoothie: A Sweet Way to Wind Down « Bitchin' Dietitian: Biting Off Just Enough to Chew

  3. Susan See says:

    I started taking two capsules a day, one in the morning and one at night. The pain in my knees has almost disappeared. I’ve actually had to resort to three Tylenol some nights to sleep. I would have used Tylenol every night but my kidneys hurt if I take it every day. Since I’m taking the tart cherry capsules I have started feeling sleepier earlier and going to bed earlier and only getting up once to go to the bathroom; normally it’s three times. And I can go right back to sleep. Even though I want to question it, I’ve decided to just accept it as a gift and enjoy it.

  4. Monica says:

    Hi thank you for all you do. I domt know if I have bought the right one. I was at whole foods & there was one concentrated pretty small 20oz bottle for $25 & then there was a company called knudsen which was $4.99. The only difference was the addition of filtered water. So that was what I bought. I have been on strong px for sleep & and just took anxiety pill. I also put my essential oils on feet & diffused & its been worst night sleep in a long time. The essential oils were helping me drastically to being able to sleep 3-4 nights without without anything else. I say this long thesis lol to say…I was really stressed last night, had also had pineapple juice with an immune vitamin for a cold & it was 11:30 & I knew I had to wake up at 530am. Did I buy the wrong one or should I try again? Sleepless in the heights

    • Jen Reilly says:

      Hey Monica, I believe it’s the Knudsen tart cherry juice that’s the one you want. I got a 365 Brand one at Whole Foods Market a while back. Sweet dreams! XOXO – Jen

  5. Carol Borba says:

    Im wondering which Tart Cherry juice works better, Organic or regular?

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