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Sour Cherries for sleep; who knew!?!

Friday February 10, 2017
Sour Cherries for sleep; who knew!?!

Worryingly insomnia is very common, it is estimated that 25% of the UK population suffer with sleeping problems. But science has found an unlikely solution, cherries!  And other nutrients such as magnesium can help too. 

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep during the night and many people also experience irritability or fatigue during the day as well, it’s a big issue for a lot of people. 

More often considered for jam and tarts, the Morello cherry famed for its sour complement is a lesser known sleep remedy.  The iconic fruit of the English summer; cherries are a rich source of proanthocyanidins and a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in the regulation and induction of sleep.

Numerous clinical studies have concluded that cherries may improve sleep and increase melatonin levels in as little as two weeks.[1]  [2]   The lack of a sedative side effect may leave you feeling more energetic the next day.


To help you sleep, you could also consider magnesium, an essential mineral that if dietary levels are inadequate, as is often the case, is associated with poor sleep and insomnia. Subsequently improving the intake of magnesium may prove beneficial in regaining restorative sleep.[3] 


Image: Magnesium reduces insomnia and improves sleep[3] 

It is thought that a sub-optimal magnesium intake may contribute to a lowered production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Evidence suggests that sleep deprivation may reduce magnesium status.[4]  Low magnesium has been associated with nervous excitability and poor sleep quality. [5]

Furthermore, studies have suggested that magnesium has a regulatory effect on serotonin and dopamine (feel good neurotransmitters) and that a subsequent low magnesium status contributes to neurotransmitter imbalance that produces insomnia and sleep problems. [6] Magnesium supplementation may offer a calming effect on this mechanism that then contributes to relaxation and help you sleep.  

Other useful nutrients are the amino acid glycine and red date extract, both compounds have shown in research to improve relaxation and induce sleep. [7]  [8]  [9]


Try taking 200 to 300 mg of magnesium powder with Morello cherry an hour before the desired sleep time.  For some it may take a bit of time for the body’s levels to build back up if they are low so keep taking it daily for at least one month, but it could make all the difference to your sleep and overall wellbeing.  

Author: Jenny Hall is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Service Assistant at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science.

 [1] 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 Dec;51(8):909-16

[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. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2010;13(3):579-583. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0096.

[3] Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9.  

[4] Nielson F H  2015  Relation between Magnesium deficiency and Sleep Disorders and Associated Pathological Changes.  Modulation of Sleep by Obesity, Diabetes, Age, and Diet.  291-96.

[5] Chollet D, Franken P, Raffin Y, et al. Blood and brain magnesium in inbred mice and their correlation with sleep quality. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Dec;279(6):R2173-8.  

[6] Poenaru, S., Rouhani, S., Durlach, J., Aymard, N., Belkahla, F., Rayssiguier, Y., et al. (1984). Vigilance states and cerebral monoamine metabolism in experimental magnesium deficiency. Magnesium, 3, 145–151.

[7] Yeung WF, Chung KF, Poon MM, Ho FY, Zhang SP, Zhang ZJ, Ziea ET, Wong VT. Chinese herbal medicine for insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Dec;16(6):497-507.  

[8] Jiang JG, Huang XJ, Chen J. Separation and purification of saponins from Semen Ziziphus jujuba and their sedative and hypnotic effects. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Aug;59(8):1175-80.  

[9] Fujita T, Ando K, Noda H, Ito Y, Sato Y. Effects of increased adrenomedullary activity and taurine in young patients with borderline hypertension. Circulation. 1987 Mar;75(3):525-32.  


TAGS: Nutrition News and Viewssleep


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