Cherries: Nature’s Own Sleeping Pill

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Cherries are known for many things. These fleshy fruits are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Cherries are packed with fiber and dietary minerals too. Health experts agree, cherries are a part of a healthy diet. But did you know these succulent stone fruits work better than your average sleeping pill? Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland. The main function of melatonin is to induce sleep. The hormone is released at night, signaling the body to sleep. The body has receptors that can detect this hormone. Once detected, drowsiness sets in.

Melatonin is found in almost all living things, including plants, animals, and fungi. In human beings, this hormone is released in the brain. The amount of melatonin released in the body will depend on your body clock. Usually, melatonin level rises from evening to mid-night. It will remain high throughout the night. As morning comes, there is a significant drop of melatonin in the body. This triggers the brain to wake up.

Melatonin does more than signal sleep. It helps regulate sleep cycles. Although the importance of melatonin in human biology remains unclear, some experts believe that the hormone synchronizes circadian rhythms in different parts of the body.

Unfortunately, some people do not produce enough sleep hormone to achieve a good night’s sleep. Those who suffer from insomnia struggle to get rest at night because of abnormally low melatonin level at night.  And so, eating foods that increase melatonin promote better night’s rest.

The Research

A 2001 research conducted by experts at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that cherries contain higher levels of melatonin than other fruits. The study was headed by Dr. Russel J. Reiter.

According to Reiter’s conclusion, consuming cherries regularly will help regulate the body’s natural sleep cycle. Cherries also increase sleep efficiency and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. Because the fruit is high in anthocyanins – an antioxidant – its health benefits are enhanced.

In a separate study conducted in 2010, aging insomniacs who were given tart cherry juice saw a modest improvement on their sleep cycle. The effects are not as potent as the results from Dr. Reiter’s findings. Health experts believe that only a selected species of cherries contain enough melatonin to induce deep sleep.

In 2014, a Northumbria University research concluded that individuals who drank 2 30 ml. serving of tart cherry juice felt a significant increase in their time in bed. Their sleep time and sleep efficiency total are also higher compared to a group given a placebo. What makes the Northumbria University research different from similar tests is that lower dosages of cherry to track melatonin.

This suggests that other compounds – such as vitamins or phytochemicals – are working in unison with melatonin to induce sleep. This occurrence is more common in whole foods compared to supplements.

Conclusion

Insomnia leads to a variety of chronic diseases particularly among aging individuals. That’s why a good night’s sleep is important especially for people afflicted with serious conditions. Cherries are scientifically proven to induce sleep. Regular consumption of cherries increases the amount of sleep hormone in the body. So if you are struggling with insomnia, give cherries a chance. We recommend drinking tart cherry juice for best results.


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