Sleepless in the USA: New study finds tart cherry juice significantly increases sleep time

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(NaturalNews) According to the CDC insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. The CDC warns that people who are struggling with sleep deficiencies are at risk for serious, debilitating, chronic diseases and even death from: "hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity."

The CDC estimates that approximately 50 to 70 million US adults suffer from some form of sleep or "wakefulness disorder". [1]

Synthetic Melatonin Dangers

Most health conscious consumers do not realize that supplemental melatonin is a synthetic hormone that carries a full array of not only mildly unpleasant side-effects like grogginess upon awakening or dizziness, [2] but also potentially lethal side effects, like "inhibited thyroid function and vasoconstriction of the brain, organs, and heart and more." [3]

According to Emily Benfit of, "There simply is no solid scientific evidence to support melatonin's effectiveness for treating insomnia in young and middle-aged adults. NONE! And there have been several studies which actually concluded that melatonin definitively does not significantly improve total sleep time, nor reduce the time it takes to fall asleep." [3] [2]

Avoid sleeping pills

In Dr. Daniel F. Kripke's book The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills, Mortality and Cancer Risks, Which Pills to Avoid & Better Alternatives Dr. Kripke cautions that sleeping pills are extremely dangerous and could hasten an early death from cancer, heart disease, or other serious illnesses.

In fact, he states that, "patients who took sleeping pills died 4.6 times more often (on average) than patients who avoided sleeping pills." [4]

Tart Cherry Juice for Insomnia

New research from Louisiana State University revealed that consuming Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day increased sleeping time for adults with insomnia by 1.5 hours.

Montmorency cherries are rich in melatonin a hormone made by the pineal gland housed in the brain. Melatonin's primary function is to regulate sleep-wake cycles via light and darkness signaling. Low levels of melatonin can cause sleeping difficulties for some.

Lead author Frank L. Greenway, MD, and his colleagues wanted to know if melatonin alone was responsible for the sleep enhancing benefits in Montmorency cherries or was there something else. They wondered if the abundant Proanthocyanidins found in cherry pigments was also a factor. [5]

In their in-vitro study, cherry juice inhibited the enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase, which delays the degradation of the essential amino acid tryptophan that acts as a precursor to serotonin and facilitates sleep.

"Tryptophan degradation is a known predictor of insomnia and is also related to inflammation, said study co-authors Jack Losso and John Finley, professors in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Louisiana State University.

"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.

He added, "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." [5]

The researchers discovered that the study participants who drank two glasses of Montmorency tart cherry juice daily, one in the morning and one glass in the evening "were able to sleep more than an hour longer each night (averaging 84 minutes) compared to the placebo, and their sleep tended to be more efficient." [5]

Greenway concluded that the synergistic effect of melatonin and tryptophan in Montmorency tart cherries were probably behind the sleep benefits. [5]

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