Sleep Remedies – Tart Cherry Juice

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tart cherry juice

Getting enough sleep is one of the most commonly reported challenges today. Between the busyness of work schedules and home responsibilities, it can be hard to make intentional space to rest. As a result, many of us are struggling to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night and may be looking for natural remedies to help, like tart cherry juice.[1] 

Tart cherry juice is made from sour cherries and is known for its potent flavor. It has been studied for a wide range of potential benefits related to exercise, brain health, and immune function, but what does the research say about tart cherry juice for sleep?

Let’s take a closer look at tart cherry juice and whether it’s a good option for people seeking natural sleep support. 

Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.

Can Tart Cherry Juice Help You Sleep? 

Tart cherry juice may be a simple way to help promote more restful and longer sleep. In fact, one 2010 study concluded that tart cherry juice appears to be at least as effective, if not more, at improving sleep than valerian root or melatonin alone — which are two of the most studied natural products for sleep.[2]

While you may be wondering how such a sour-tasting juice could help you relax, its sleep-promoting effects have more to do with the compounds it contains. Tart cherry juice contains tryptophan (yes, the thing we all associate with turkey), an essential amino acid that’s converted into a compound called 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP helps your body produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a natural mood stabilizer associated with sleep and reduced feelings of anxiousness. 

5-HTP also helps your body produce melatonin, a hormone naturally released by your brain when it’s time to prepare for sleep.[3] One study found that total urinary melatonin content was significantly elevated among participants who received tart cherry juice for seven days compared to the placebo group.[4] On the other hand, another study found that while tart cherry juice did not change melatonin levels in elite female hockey players, it did improve sleep quality.[5] 

Tart cherry juice also contains anthocyanins, which are antioxidants responsible for the deep red, blue, and purple pigments of certain fruits and vegetables. While the relationship between the two isn’t well understood, anthocyanins may help prolong the effects of melatonin, which could help support sleep. 

Additional Tart Cherry Juice Studies

In a 2010 randomized controlled trial, a group of 15 otherwise healthy adults with chronic insomnia received both placebo and tart cherry juice treatment each for two weeks with a 2-week washout period — which is a period during which no treatment is received to eliminate the effects of one treatment and prepare the participants for the new treatment. The researchers evaluated factors like when the participants fell asleep, how much they woke up after falling asleep, total sleep time, and overall sleep efficiency. At the end of the trial, it was concluded that tart cherry juice was associated with statistically significant improvements in all sleep variables compared to before treatment, including significant reductions in insomnia severity.[6] 

And in a 2018 pilot study, researchers found that 240 mL of tart cherry juice given to elderly participants with insomnia twice daily for two weeks increased tryptophan availability, reduced inflammation, and increased sleep time and efficiency. Interestingly, they also found that cherry juice could inhibit a compound called indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in the blood, which is known to degrade tryptophan and promote inflammation.[7]

However, a 2022 study came to a different conclusion. In this study, 44 adult participants were given either two 240 mL bottles per day of tart cherry juice or placebo or two capsules per day of powdered MTC or placebo for 30 days. They tracked their sleep daily using a questionnaire and completed assessments of blood pressure and body composition at 0, 14, and 30 days after supplementation. The authors found no significant improvements in sleep time or quality, cellular health, or blood pressure after using tart cherry in juice or capsule form.[8] 

Overall, if you’re struggling with your sleep, there is some evidence — though mixed — that suggests tart cherry juice may be worth trying. 

How Much Tart Cherry Juice Should I Drink?  

Tart cherry comes in both juice and supplemental form. The latter can be found in gummies, concentrate, extract, and capsules. 

There is no standardized dosage for tart cherry juice. However, compiled evidence for safety shows that there are no safety concerns reported for the daily use of 475 mL of juice or 480 mg of freeze-dried tart cherry skin powder for up to two weeks.[9] 

Available tart cherry products can vary significantly in their per-serving dosage, further indicating that there’s no standard. It appears that common dosing is 240 mL — or about one cup — of juice one to two times daily, while many available supplements provide the equivalent of 300 to over 10,000 mg of tart cherry extract per serving.

Even if tart cherry juice products don’t help you sleep better, moderate doses have few likely side effects. Tart cherry juice is high in sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that can cause an upset stomach. It also contains a compound called quercetin that may interact with blood-thinning medications. Finally, like other fruit juices, it’s a concentrated source of sugar — some of which may be added — so more is not necessarily better.

Given the available safety evidence, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Always speak with your healthcare provider before adding a new supplement to your routine.

Other Benefits Of Tart Cherry Juice

In addition to potentially supporting restful sleep, tart cherry juice may offer other health benefits worth exploring, although more research is needed. 

Tart cherry juice is a good source of vitamins A and C. It also contains some potassium, manganese, and copper, as well as antioxidants, which offer cellular protection from free radical damage. 

Some additional benefits include:[10][11][12][13][14][15] 

It’s important to note that tart cherry juice is not a magic remedy for any condition, including insomnia. Overall wellness boils down to various factors, including a nutrient-rich diet, stress management, and regular exercise; however, certain areas of health may be complemented by things like tart cherry juice. 

Incorporating Tart Cherry Juice Into Your Nighttime Routine

If you’re using tart cherry juice for sleep, it makes the most sense to take it toward the end of the day as part of your nighttime routine. To prevent the juice from making you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, drink it 1-2 hours before you lay down for bed. It’s also a source of sugar, so it’s a good idea to drink it at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth. 

We Tried It — Here’s What We Thought

Cody Gohl, former Sleepopolis staff editor: Well y’all, while cherry juice is definitely delicious, as far as its effects on my sleep are concerned… I felt nothing. Not a thing. Not even a dollop of drowsiness. To be fair, I only tried this remedy out for a week, so maybe over time it would eventually help to make a dent on my insomnia, but for now, I’d consider this to be a bit of a flop.

My unprofessional expert diagnosis would give this trick 2 out of 5 Zzz’s… a tasty beverage, but no notable effects for me.

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

If you’re looking to try a natural sleep aid, there’s tart cherry juice could be a tasty option. Though tart cherry juice isn’t a guarantee and may not work for everyone, it may be worth a try! Always speak with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian before adding a new supplement, including tart cherry juice, to your routine to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for you. 


  1. Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015;1(1):40-43. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
  2. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010;13(3):579-583. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0096
  3. Zagajewski J, Drozdowicz D, Brzozowska I, et al. Conversion L-tryptophan to melatonin in the gastrointestinal tract: the new high performance liquid chromatography method enabling simultaneous determination of six metabolites of L-tryptophan by native fluorescence and UV-VIS detection. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012;63(6):613-621.
  4. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(8):909-916. doi:10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7
  5. Chung J, Choi M, Lee K. Effects of Short-Term Intake of Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice on Sleep Quality after Intermittent Exercise in Elite Female Field Hockey Players: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(16):10272. doi:10.3390/ijerph191610272
  6. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010;13(3):579-583. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0096
  7. Losso JN, Finley JW, Karki N, et al. Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. Am J Ther. 2018;25(2):e194-e201. doi:10.1097/MJT.0000000000000584
  8. Hillman AR, Trickett O, Brodsky C, Chrismas B. Montmorency tart cherry supplementation does not impact sleep, body composition, cellular health, or blood pressure in healthy adults [published online ahead of print, 2022 Jul 5]. Nutr Health. 2022;2601060221111230. doi:10.1177/02601060221111230
  9. “Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance.” National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated 2 June 2022. Available: 
  10. Kent K, Charlton KE, Jenner A, Roodenrys S. Acute reduction in blood pressure following consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice may be dose-interval dependant: a pilot cross-over study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016;67(1):47-52. doi:10.3109/09637486.2015.1121472
  11. Schumacher HR, Pullman-Mooar S, Gupta SR, Dinnella JE, Kim R, McHugh MP. Randomized double-blind crossover study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013;21(8):1035-1041. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2013.05.009
  12. Kent K, Charlton K, Roodenrys S, et al. Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia. Eur J Nutr. 2017;56(1):333-341. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-1083-y
  13. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:17. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-17
    1. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20(6):843-852. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x

    15. Dimitriou L, Hill JA, Jehnali A, et al. Influence of a montmorency cherry juice blend on indices of exercise-induced stress and upper respiratory tract symptoms following marathon running–a pilot investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:22. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0085-8

Lauren Panoff

Lauren Panoff

Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD is a Colorado-based health and nutrition writer who has been published with a number of trusted wellness platforms. She is a dietitian who specializes in plant-based living, as well as a mother of two humans and a dog.