Researchers have found a simple and natural way to end insomnia.
It can add almost 1 ½ hours to your sleep time—without the health risks of sleeping pills.
Professor Jack Losso is with the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. He led the study.
“Insomnia is quite common among older adults and it can lead to a range of health issues if left untreated,” said Professor Losso. “Many people are hesitant to resort to medications to help them sleep. That’s why natural sleep remedies are increasingly of interest and in demand.”
The researchers gathered otherwise healthy subjects 50 or older who suffered with chronic insomnia. Insomnia was defined as having trouble sleeping on three nights or more per week.
In a double-blind study, the researchers divided participants into two groups. One drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and again one to two hours before bedtime. The other group drank a cherry-flavored placebo beverage.
After 14 days, the subjects stopped drinking their assigned beverage and took a two-week break from the study. Then they were crossed over to the opposite group. If they had been drinking cherry juice, they switched to the placebo drink, and vice versa. None of the participants knew when they were drinking genuine cherry juice or the placebo drink.
The study found that when the subjects were on the cherry juice regimen, they increased their sleep time by an average of 84 minutes a night.
At the start of the study, and after each two weeks of beverage intake, the participants took a survey called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. It assesses sleep efficiency. It measures the ratio of time asleep versus time spent in bed.
When the participants drank the cherry juice, their index scores increased. This means they spent less time awake in bed and more time sleeping. When they drank the placebo, there was no improvement.
The researchers also took other measures of sleep quality and overall health. They found that cherry juice reduced markers for inflammation in blood vessels, increased heart and breathing efficiency, and reduced leg movement and erratic brain waves.
The juice increased tryptophan levels. Tryptophan is needed for the body to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.
It also reduced the levels of kynurenine in the blood. This metabolite can block the production of tryptophan and cause sleep deprivation.
The research was published in the American Journal of Therapeutics.
Tart Cherry Juice: Get Better Sleep and a Stronger Memory
In a published in the journal Food & Function, researchers split 34 seniors into two groups. They were randomly assigned to drink either tart cherry juice or a placebo drink every day for 12 weeks.
Before and after the trial, researchers gave the participants tests to gauge their memory and cognitive function.
Afterward, the tart cherry group had, compared to the placebo group:
- A 5% increase in satisfaction with their ability to remember things.
- A 4% reduction in the amount of time it took them to react to visual stimuli.
- A 23% reduction in errors during a visual memory test.
- A 3% improvement in sustaining visual attention.
- An 18% reduction in mistakes in a spatial working memory test.
The researchers believe the benefits are due to three brain-boosting compounds in tart cherry juice: anthocyanins, polyphenols, and melanin.
The juice also lowers blood pressure, which may also play a role.
“Blood pressure can influence blood flow to the brain,” said lead author Professor Sheau Ching Chai.
Buy the Right Kind of Tart Cherry Juice
There are different varieties of tart cherries. The participants in both studies mentioned above drank Montmorency cherry juice. It’s the most common type. It’s a variety grown mostly in Wisconsin and Michigan. The juice is available in frozen, canned, and concentrate forms. All contain the nutrients that aid sleep.
Montmorency cherry juice is widely available at health food stores and online. Look for organic brands with no added sugar.
Drink eight ounces in the morning and eight ounces in the evening. If you are like the study subjects, your sleep will start improve in the first week.
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