Insomnia is for many people one of the big downsides of ageing, but a new US study might have uncovered an unexpected boon for everyone who struggles to get a good night’s sleep.
An 8-ounce (240 ml) glass of Montmorency tart cherry juice taken in the morning and again in the evening one to two hours before bedtime was found to extend sleeping time by an average 84 minutes, a study published by the American Journal of Therapeutics found.
“Insomnia is quite common among older adults and it can lead to a range of health issues if left untreated,” Jack Losso a professor at Louisiana State University told the Cherry Marketing Institute in the US.
“However, 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.”
“After age 60, nighttime sleep tends to be shorter, lighter, and interrupted by multiple awakenings,” the institute cautions. “Elderly people are also more likely to take medications that interfere with sleep.
But cherry juice, which contains procyanidin and anthocyanins, which was found to stop the build-up of brain chemicals linked to poor sleep.
In the research carried out by Louisiana State University, eight insomniacs aged 50-plus participated in a random and placebo-controlled clinical trial.
After a blood test and a survey, each subject was randomly assigned to drink either 240 mls of cherry juice or given a placebo that looked and tasted similar. They drank the juice twice a day for 14 days.
After the two weeks, the study revealed that “sleep efficiency” increased in those who drank the actual cherry juice twice a day.
The cherry juice reduced levels of kynurenine, which contributes to sleep disturbance, increased the amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to induce sleepiness, and also slowed the build-up of PGE2, a bio marker of of inflammation that has been linked to sleep problems in recent years.
When compared to the placebo, the cherry juice was found to extend sleeping time by one hour and 24 minutes.
Montmorency tart cherries are the most common tart cherries in the US and are available all year-round there. In Australia, the juice, as well as dried Montmorency cherries are available at many health food stores and from online health food suppliers.