London: Suffering from insomnia? Drink a glass of cherry juice daily before going to bed, for a study says that it holds the key to a good night's sleep.
Researchers at Northumbria University have found that drinking cherry juice helps one sleep an extra 25 minutes a night, and people who consume it regularly have an improved quality of sleep.
They have found that cherry juice significantly increases levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone regulating sleep, a finding which may benefit those who have difficulty sleeping due to insomnia, shift work or jet lag.
In the study, led by Dr Glyn Howatson, 20 healthy volunteers drank a 30 ml serving of either tart cherry juice or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days.
Urine samples were collected from all participants before and during the investigation to determine levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that heavily influences the human sleep-wake cycle.
During the study, the participants wore an actigraphy watch sensor which monitored their sleep and wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns.
The researchers found that when participants drank cherry juice for a week there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin (15 to 16 per cent) than control condition and placebo drink samples.

The actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the cherry juice saw an increase of around 15 minutes to the time spent in bed, 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a 5 to 6 per cent increase in their sleep efficiency.
Cherry juice drinkers reported less daytime napping time compared to their normal sleeping habits before the study and the napping times of the placebo group.
According to Dr Howatson, who led the study, "We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise. Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process, which is often forgotten.
These results show that tart cherry juice can be used to facilitate sleep in healthy adults and, excitingly, has the potential to be applied as a natural intervention, not only to athletes, but to other populations with insomnia and general disturbed sleep from shift work or jet lag."
The findings are to appear in the 'European Journal of Nutrition'.