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Cherry Juice Extends Sleep Time

Update Date: Apr 28, 2014 09:14 PM EDT

Drinking cheery juice may help cure insomnia, according to a new study.

New research reveals that drinking tart cherry juice boosts sleep time by nearly 90 minutes in seniors with insomnia.

Researchers said the finings are important because natural sleep aids are less dangerous than sleep medications. Previous studies reveal that sleeping pills increase the risk of falls in seniors.

"Sleeping pills may be an option for younger insomniacs, but for older people these medications quadruple the risk of falling, which can lead to broken hips and, often, earlier death," co-author Frank L. Greenway, MD, director of the outpatient research clinic at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, said in a news release.

The latest study was a randomized crossover clinical trial that involved seven older adults with an average age 68 who suffered insomnia.

Participants were asked to consume eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks. Afterwards, participants went through a two-week washout period, followed another two-week period where they consumed a "placebo" beverage.

Researchers monitored participants' sleep in a controlled setting, using overnight polysomnography. Participants were also asked to complete sleep questionnaires and undergo blood work.

The findings revealed that participants who drank he Montmorency tart cherry juice in the morning and at night were able to sleep on average more than 84 minutes each night compared to the placebo, and their sleep tended to be more efficient.

"Even though the amount of tryptophan in tart cherry juice is smaller than a normal dose given to aid sleep, the compounds in tart cherries could prevent the tryptophan from breaking down so it's able to work in the body more effectively," Greenway explained. "These compounds may help to improve tryptophan bioavailability for serotonin synthesis, which could have a positive effect on sleep. Increasing serotonin also helps improve mood and decrease inflammation."

The findings were presented today at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting.

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