Drinking This Before Bed May Help You Sleep (And It's Not Warm Milk)

This type of juice may work as a natural sleep aid, experts say.

One of the most important ways to ensure you have a great day is to get a good night's rest. Yet one third of Americans report they get less than the recommended amount of sleep, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can not only leave you feeling groggy—which leads to a higher incidence of accidents and motor vehicle crashes— but can also cause serious health issues down the line, including an increased likelihood of heart disease, obesity, depression, and diabetes. "Getting enough sleep is not a luxury—it is something people need for good health," the CDC warns.

However, for those struggling with poor sleep, practical solutions can be elusive. Now, experts are sharing important tips for improving sleep patterns, including one that takes just a moment of your time. They say you may be able to extend your sleep by over an hour by simply drinking a glass of this before bed. Read on to find out which beverage may work as a natural sleep aid, and the other health benefits it provides!

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Drinking tart cherry juice before bed may help you sleep.

glass of cherry juice
Shutterstock / plov_mlov

While you may intuitively reach for a warm glass of milk or some hot tea before bed, experts from the Cleveland Clinic say there's another beverage that may help you sleep: tart cherry juice made from Montmorency cherries. "Studies show that tart cherry consumption can help you sleep for up to 85 minutes longer because they're a source of melatonin, a sleep aid that reduces inflammation in the body," says the Cleveland Clinic site. Additionally, tart cherries contain tryptophan, an amino acid which helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin.

"Because tart cherries have different enzymes in them, they actually keep the tryptophan in the body longer," dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, explains via the clinic's site. "So not only does it get you to sleep sooner, but it keeps you asleep for longer," she adds.

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Here's what to do.

Woman drinking juice

Experts say that to get the most out of your natural sleep aid, you should try drinking the juice about an hour before your intended bed time. Roughly four ounces of tart cherry juice or a half cup of fruit may be enough to have an effect. "You need to experiment with it yourself," says Czerwony. "Try a small amount for a few nights and see how you respond and then you can increase a little each night."

If you opt for juice rather than the fruit itself or a supplement, make you choose one that contains no added sugar, which could have a negative affect on your sleep and overall health.

Tart cherries also have a range of other health benefits, studies say.

Cherry juice in a glass

A 2018 review of studies published in the journal Nutrients found that in addition to promoting good sleep, there are many other reasons that tart cherry juice is considered good for the body. After analyzing 29 studies on the health benefits of cherries, the research team saw good reason to recommend the fruit as part of a balanced diet.

"Consumption of cherries decreased markers for oxidative stress in 8/10 studies; inflammation in 11/16; exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength in 8/9; blood pressure in 5/7; arthritis in 5/5, and improved sleep in 4/4," the study authors write. "These results suggest that consumption of sweet or tart cherries can promote health by preventing or decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation," they explain. They're also packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.

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Try these other sleep tips, too.

A young Asian woman relaxing in a bathtub, surrounded by candle

Though tart cherry juice may help you fall and stay sleep, experts say that it should be used as just one of several tactics to get a good night's rest. The Cleveland Clinic recommends establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, which may include going to bed at the same time every night, reading a book, taking a bath, meditating, and stretching. They note that turning off technology long before bedtime may help you wind down for the evening. "Give your phone a bedtime before your own," psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, told the health authority.

The CDC adds that you should also make sure your your bedroom is conducive to good sleep: it should be "quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature." They further advise that you should "avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime."

What you do during the day matters, too. The Clinic suggests waking up and eating breakfast at the same time each day to set your circadian rhythm. Getting regular exercise can also help your body release endorphins and lower your cortisol levels, which may help with sleep.

Finally, talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your sleep patterns, or if they are negatively affecting your quality of life. While poor sleep may be common, the consequences are no less detrimental to your health.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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