Tart cherry juice has been shown to aid recovery from strenuous exercise by increasing total antioxidative capacity and reducing inflammation. Importantly, these results have translated into a recovery of muscle function. Now in a recent study the juice has been put to another good use…

A good nights sleep is a vital part of any athlete’s recovery protocol. This is often not as easy as we would like. Heavy periods of training can leave you feeling very tired but sleep is often disturbed and broken. Add to this external stressors that life brings and that desired 8-10 hours could be shortened very quickly.

Melatonin is produced in humans naturally and regulates the sleep-wake cycles. The levels of this molecule therefore fluctuate throughout the day. Tart cherry juice contains high levels of phytochemicals, one of which is melatonin. Subjects who used the juice concentrate were shown to have and increase in total melatonin levels.

The results were a significant improvement in;

  • time in bed
  • sleep efficiency
  • total time asleep

There are obvious applications to the general public but athletes may benefit in their recovery with high quality and consistent sleep patterns.

Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J, (2011) ‘Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.’ European Journal of Nutrition (Epub ahead of print).