tart cherries

Montmorency Tart Cherry Benefits – How Does it Help Sleep?

Famed for their specific sour flavor, Montmorency cherries (AKA tart cherries) boast an impressive nutrient and antioxidant profile.

As a result, Montmorency cherry benefits include faster muscle recovery, reduced inflammation, and yes – sleep improvement.

In fact, tart cherries are one of the favorite foods amongst people with insomnia. Here in this article, we’ll find out why.

How Montmorency Cherries Help You Sleep

Tart cherries contain l-tryptophan and melatonin, two essential elements for a good night’s sleep.

See, tryptophan is an amino acid. Besides being a building block for proteins, tryptophan is also essential for the production of serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin.

Melatonin, in turn, is a hormone that regulates the sleep-waking cycle. During the day, your body prefers to produce serotonin to stay awake. In the evening, serotonin converts to melatonin, which tells you it’s time to go to sleep.

Since they contain both l-tryptophan and melatonin, tart cherries not have the perfect combo of ingredients that will help you sleep.

The Science – How Tart Cherries Benefit Sleep

Studies show that people who drink tart cherry juice have higher levels of melatonin. This, in turn, improves both the duration and quality of their sleep. (1)

One research, in particular, shows quite stunning results. Participants who suffered from insomnia drank either tart cherry juice or a placebo juice for two weeks straight.

The result?

The group of people who drank tart cherry juice increased their sleep time by 85 minutes on average. (2)

By contrast, the placebo group experienced no difference in sleep.

Antioxidants Also Improve Sleep

Melatonin and tryptophan aren’t the only compounds in tart cherries that promote sleep.

Montmorency cherries also contain anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are a powerful group of antioxidants which not only protect the brain from oxidative stress, they also promote the production of melatonin.

cherry blossom

Tart Cherry vs Melatonin and Valerian Supplements

People with insomnia like to try various methods to fall asleep.

Some go to massages, aromatherapies, or if they really struggle with falling asleep – they opt for pharmaceutical drugs.

Other choose more natural solutions such as herbal supplements. These include valerian and melatonin.

In fact, valerian and melatonin are the two most popular supplements for treating insomnia.

However, Montmorency Cherries could overtake their throne.

According to research, tart cherry juice is even more effective at improving sleep than valerian and melatonin. (3)

And the best of all, you don’t need to take tart cherries in a supplement form, unlike valerian or melatonin. You can eat them raw or drink tart cherry juice to experience their awesome sleep benefits.

Other Benefits

In addition to reducing insomnia, Montmorency cherries offer a few other benefits. Including:

Reduced Inflammation – In some studies, tart cherries are shown to reduce inflammation and soreness, including gout and arthritis. (4, 5)

Improved Memory – Since they are high in antioxidants, tart cherries protect the brain from free radical damage. Not only that, they are also shown to directly improve both short-term and long-term memory. (6, 7)

Bolstered Immune System – Montmorency cherries are rich in not only antioxidants but also vitamins and minerals. Many of these nutrients are essential for your immune system, making tart cherries a go-to choice for fighting colds and upper respiratory infections. In fact, one research showed that runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced much less upper respiratory problems after a race, as opposed to a group who drank a placebo. (8)

Strength Gains – Although not huge, strength increases from consuming tart cherries are shown to be within 4-5% range in strength-trained men. (9)

Any Side Effects to Worry About?

Montmorency tart cherries are generally safe and without side effects.

However, there are a couple of things to point out:

  • Tart cherries contain sorbitol – this is a form of sugar alcohol that some people can’t tolerate, resulting in diarrhea or stomach pains.
  • Quercetin – This is a powerful antioxidant found in tart cherries. It fights oxidative stress and promotes blood flow. However, if you’re on blood thinning medication, you might want to talk to your doctor before drinking large amounts of tart cherry juice. As for eating tart cherries, you’d have to consume over 200 of them to meet the amount of quercetin found in 8oz (240ml) of the tart cherry juice.

Lastly, I’d suggest not consuming large numbers of tart cherries early in the day. That’s due to melatonin and tryptophan in them, which can make you feel sleepy and sluggish.

cherries in a bowl

Wrapping Up

Montmorency cherries are a nutrient powerhouse. They have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They also contain l-tryptophan and melatonin, two compounds that will help you sleep.

Research suggests that tart cherries are just as, if not even more effective than sleep supplements such as melatonin and valerian at improving sleep.

Besides promoting sleep, tart cherries also increase blood flow, boost your muscle strength, and reduce inflammation.

For most people, they are a safe and natural way to support their sleep and overall health.

References

  1. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. (source)
  2. Tart cherry juice increases sleep time in older adults with insomnia (830.9). (source)
  3. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. (source)
  4. Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice to Reduce Inflammation Biomarkers among Women with Inflammatory Osteoarthritis (OA). (source)
  5. Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) concentrate lowers uric acid, independent of plasma cyanidin-3-O-glucoside-rutinoside. (source)
  6. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. (source)
  7. Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia. (source)
  8. Influence of a Montmorency cherry juice blend on indices of exercise-induced stress and upper respiratory tract symptoms following marathon running--a pilot investigation. (source)
  9. Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on an acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance trained males. (source)

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