The Long-Standing Claim That Tart Cherry Juice Can Act As A Sleep Aid, Explained

The idea that tart cherry juice can be used as a natural sleep aid isn't exactly new. A scientific study focusing specifically on older adults struggling with insomnia was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food back in 2010. Of course, the speed at which information travels has significantly accelerated since then. Today, many people discover health and lifestyle tips and "hacks" by scrolling through TikTok and other social media platforms.


The hashtag #tartcherryjuice has gone viral on TikTok, racking up tens of millions of views. Viral creators like @hymtherapper have voluntarily tested the juice on the app, documenting their experience for their followers and the internet at large. Is tart cherry juice really an option for the average Joe suffering from occasional insomnia, or is this just another social media trend designed as an easy way to gain likes and follows? Here's everything you need to know about tart cherry juice and its effects on sleep. 

Does tart cherry juice really help with sleep?

The scientific study of tart cherry juice's potential as a sleep aid didn't end after 2010. In 2012, another study was conducted, this time involving healthy adults rather than seniors. The "double-blind and placebo-controlled" study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, focused specifically on tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate and its effects on participants' urinary melatonin levels as well as the quality of their sleep. The results showed that the cherry juice not only "significantly" raised melatonin levels, it also led to longer periods of sleep and higher percentages of time spent asleep while in bed.


Another tart Montmorency cherry juice study by Louisiana State University in 2014 indicated that the juice "increased the availability" of tryptophan in addition to increasing melatonin levels (via Biospace). When it comes down to whether or not tart cherry juice affects sleep, the answer seems to be a resounding and scientifically proven yes, thanks to its relationship with melatonin tryptophan.

Tart cherry juice and its connection with melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone "produced by the brain's pineal gland" in response to darkness during the 24-hour day and night cycle, according to You and Your Hormones. When the sky darkens at night, your brain releases melatonin into your bloodstream, circulating it to receptors throughout your body. This process signals that it is time to prepare for sleep. Compared to daytime levels, it is considered normal for melatonin levels to multiply by up to 10 after nightfall and remain elevated until daybreak.


Adding melatonin to your body by ingesting a synthetic supplement can aid in falling and staying asleep. However, supplement use, especially at high doses and for extended amounts of time, is associated with potential side effects, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, nightmares, irritability, mood swings, and depression (via the Mayo Clinic). Incorporating tart cherry juice into your evening routine is a proven way to make more natural melatonin available to your body

Tryptophan and tart cherry juice

Tryptophan is an "essential amino acid," meaning that it is not produced by the human body. It can only be acquired through food, drinks, or supplements. When tryptophan is consumed, some are turned into vitamin B3, and the rest is eventually "converted" into serotonin (via Healthline). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood and sleep and is required for the production of melatonin. 


Much like melatonin supplements, tryptophan supplements are associated with side effects such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and agitation. In fact, from 1989 to 2005, "the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned tryptophan supplements" due to high doses being associated with a white blood cell disorder known as eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (via Michigan State University).

Tart cherry juice can provide natural tryptophan and a serotonin boost without the side effects associated with the high doses often found in synthetic supplements. However, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance, this might not be the trend for you due to the juice's high natural sugar content, according to Medical News Today. Always speak to your doctor before making any changes to your dietary routine if you're managing a chronic illness.