(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, resulting in excessive fatigue and even more serious consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): "Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression...it is also responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents."
Of course, Big Pharma has come up with a huge array of supposedly easy solutions for those who have a hard time getting enough shut-eye. All you have to do is pop a pill such as the heavily hyped Sonata, Rozerem, Lunesta or Silenor and you'll soon be snoozing away happily, the drug advertisements promise. Of course, you might decide that's not the healthiest idea if you check out the side effects which can include hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, loss of coordination, fever, "sleep driving" while not fully awake and memory problems.
But here's good news for people wanting a more sensible, safer way to help sleep problems. Researchers say they've found what could be a natural and tasty solution for insomnia -- drinking tart cherry juice daily.
In a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and the V.A. Center of Canandaigua tested the effects of tart cherry juice on the sleep habits of 15 older adults. The research subjects drank 8 ounces of the beverage every morning and night for two weeks. Then, after a two week "wash out" period of no juice, the study participants were switched to another juice drink containing no cherry juice.
The results? During the weeks the study participants drank the cherry juice, there were significant reductions in reported insomnia severity when compared to the weeks when they were consuming the non-cherry juice drink. What's more, drinking the tart cherry juice appeared to help people sleep through the night better, without waking up.
In a statement to the media, the researchers noted that tart cherries' natural sleep-enhancing benefits could be the result of their relatively high content of melatonin -- a natural antioxidant that has been shown in previous research to help induce sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day.
In addition to normalizing sleep, scientists are discovering other health benefits of tart cherries and tart cherry juice, too. For example, University of Michigan research published last year in the Journal of Medicinal Food, suggests tart cherries may help to control weight and to prevent metabolic syndrome, the cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure and high cholesterol that ups the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Oregon Health and Science University's Department of Medicine researchers have also found that drinking tart cherry juice for 7 days before and during a strenuous running event minimizes post-run muscle pain. Their study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.