As clocks spring forward this weekend for Daylight Saving Time, Americans will lose 1 hour of sleep, which will likely have an effect for up to a week, experts say.
Americans’ ongoing sleep problems have caused an uptick in the use of sleep aids, now an $84 million market. Rather than looking for solutions in the medicine cabinet, sleep experts suggest starting with your fridge.
“Take a look at your diet,” says Dr Carol Ash, director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health in New Jersey, in a release by the Cherry Marketing Institute. “Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, particularly in the evening, and instead of reaching for an extra cup of coffee in the morning, try drinking a glass of tart cherry juice at night.”
Tart cherries are a natural sources of melatonin. The institute says a growing body of evidence suggests tart cherry juice can help reduce the severity of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency. “One of my goals as a sleep specialist is to help people become more efficient sleepers,” Ash says. “The issue is not just getting the proper duration of sleep—it’s about staying asleep once you’ve gone to bed, instead of waking up or tossing and turning throughout the night.”
Studies have shown that tart cherry juice made from Montmorency cherries, the most popular US varietal, may help improve both the quantity and quality of sleep. According to research, tart cherry juice may:
- Help improve sleep efficiency. UK researchers found that young healthy adults who drank two glasses of tart cherry juice each day for a week slept about 40 minutes longer on average and had up to a 6% increase in sleep efficiency.
- Reduce the severity of insomnia and sleep disturbances. A study conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that drinking two 8-ounce servings of tart cherry juice daily for 2 weeks helped reduce the severity of insomnia and time spent awake after going to sleep among older adults with insomnia.
- Increase sleep time. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for 2 weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia.
Researchers attribute the sleep benefits to the melatonin and phytonutrient content of tart cherries, including the natural compounds anthocyanins. Each serving of tart cherry juice used in the studies is estimated to contain the equivalent of 90 to 100 Montmorency tart cherries. Tart cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen, and juice forms (including juice concentrate), and are readily accessible on the shelves at a variety of retailers across the country and online.