How Tart Cherry Juice Can Help Kids Sleep Better (Adults Too!)

Today, my 4 year old son Griffin slept till 7:14 a.m.

This might not sound like big news to you, but to my husband and me, it’s miraculous, paradigm-shifting, and deeply healing.

For the first time since Griffin was born, my husband and I are truly rested. More importantly, so is my son.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s a video on our experience with tart cherry juice for sleep

My name is Genevieve, and my son is an early riser…

From the moment Griffin came out of the womb, he’s been an early bird. For the first three years of his life, he woke up at 5:30 a.m. (or earlier!) every single day. Papa Natural and I took turns doing early morning shifts for years. But no matter how early we’d go to bed or try to catch up on sleep elsewhere, we could never adjust to this wake up time.

We tried everything to help our son sleep past 5:30am

  • Earlier bedtime
  • Later bedtime
  • More naps
  • Less naps
  • More rocking
  • Less rocking
  • Protein-rich dinners
  • Starch-rich dinners
  • No night lights
  • Loud sound machines
  • The OK To Wake Owl
  • Fervent prayer

But none of it worked

In Griffin’s first three years, I can count how many times he slept past 6:30am on one hand. No joke.

Yes, I know there are much, much worse things out there. I try to keep things in perspective. It’s just sleep, right?

But I knew that he needed more. He would often fall asleep in the car or when I would take him for a walk in the stroller. He was crabby at the end of the day, and would frustrate easily.

I kept searching for solutions…

That’s when I discovered tart cherry juice

On a whim, I saw this study that showed how tart cherry juice can help people sleep longer. This is due to the naturally occurring melatonin found in this particular type of cherry. Additionally, the beautiful ruby red color is due to proanthocyanidins. These can help increase the availability of tryptophan, an important precursor to serotonin, which also encourages sleep. The juice is also shown to cellularly inhibit an enzyme – indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase – that degrades tryptophan, a known predictor of insomnia and is also related to inflammation.

As I looked into it, I thought “why not give it a try?” I started serving Griffin one ounce of organic tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with 8 ounces of filtered water and a little natural sweetener. I did this religiously for a week, and definitely noticed he slept longer, which was exciting.

But I resisted the juice…

Even though it was natural, and low in sugars, I still didn’t fully love the idea of giving my son juice daily. I preferred more nourishing liquids like kefir or spring water. I also noticed that he started to expect juice as his beverage of choice… he wanted juice boxes when we were at the grocery store, orange juice at restaurants, that sort of thing. I started phasing tart cherry juice – and all juices – out of his diet.

Then Papa Natural suggested this tart cherry juice recipe

A bad stretch of early morning wake ups got us thinking about tart cherry juice for sleep again. Let’s face it; I was desperate for more sleep, especially now that I had a newborn as well who was getting up in the middle of the night.

Anyway, Papa Natural suggested that we add tart cherry juice to the raw yogurt drink that we feed to our son every day. We get our raw yogurt from a local farmer, and it has a kefir-like consistency that is very drinkable. I was worried Griffin wouldn’t like the taste, but… he loved it! YES! I jumped in with both feet and started giving him 2 ounces of the tart cherry juice concentrate (the equivalent of two eight-ounce servings) each day. Shortly thereafter, Griffin was sleeping 60-90 minutes more a day! WOOT! Prayer answered!

Our tart cherry juice recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce of organic tart cherry concentrate (you can find here.)
  • 8 ounces of organic kefir (or yogurt with a little water added) I prefer raw dairy
  • 10 drops of whole liquid stevia (you can find here) or other natural sweetener

Directions:

  • Pour 1 ounce of tart cherry juice into cup. I like using LifeFactory glass sippy cups because they have ounce markers on the bottles. I also prefer glass sippies to plastic or stainless steel.
  • Add your natural sweetener.
  • Add your raw kefir or yogurt/water combo (~ 3/4 cup organic yogurt and 2 TB to 1/4 cup filtered water).
  • Put on lid and mix well. (Be sure to cover spout holes so it doesn’t spill while shaking 🙂 )

Be sure to serve twice a day

I give Griffin one serving as a mid-morning snack, and one in the evening before bed. I’ve tried experimenting with giving him just one serving a day, and it doesn’t work the same.

This study totally confirmed my experience.

“A morning and evening ritual of tart cherry juice may help you sleep better at night… Researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day… helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes.”

I couldn’t sum up my experience using tart cherry juice any better.

I’m so grateful for tart cherry juice for sleep!

As a mama who loves her sleep, I’m so grateful for tart cherry juice. Over the past two months, Griffin’s new normal is sleeping past 7 a.m., something we didn’t think we’d see until he was in high school. We are all happier, healthier and saner as a result.

(Thankfully, my second child, Paloma, was sleeping through the night at 10 months old and never wakes before 7a.m.)

I share this in case it helps any other sleep-deprived mamas out there!

How about you?

Have you tried tart cherry juice for sleep or any other tips or tricks to help your little ones rest? Share with us!

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88 Comments

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  1. I give my 5 year old and 5 MO the old black cherry juice. Why do you mix yours? I give my baby a little in a medicine dropper and my older child some in a cup. Works great

  2. Do you find that the tart cherry works better than liquid melatonin?

  3. Hello! I am wondering if the dried tart cherries would do the same?

  4. Is it possible to use a non-dairy milk (say coconut milk) as a substitute for kefir?

  5. So, I took your advice and started giving my 2yr old son 2 T of organic tart cherry juice once mid morning, and once in the evening. I am very happy to report that it seemed to work!! He was waking up at around 5:30am before, and now he sleeps until 6:30am or sometimes till almost 7:30am. He was also sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, and hasn’t now for about 4 or 5 nights. I’ve been giving him the juice for maybe a week and a half.

    Anyway, my question is, how long does the open container of juice last in the fridge? I bought a 32 oz container, because it was less expensive, and not thinking about the shelf life of it! The bottle is still very full, so it would probably last my son for at least a month, but I’m not sure if the juice will still be ok at that point? Here is the kind I bought: http://amzn.to/2g9nZt8

    • Oh, I think it would last a month in the fridge. It’s pretty concentrated stuff – not like fresh juice.

  6. Is Tart Cherry the same as Dark Cherry?

    • Nope. It’s the tart cherry juice specifically that has the benefits for sleep.

    • Black Cherry taste better and it does have sleep benefits, I give it to my kids. Google it, it does have the sleep (melatonin) or whatever the name is in it.

  7. What about if we are a dairy free house? Desperate here. My 18 month old wakes 4x at the least and my 3.5y has been having loud dreams in which he wakes his brother.

    Thank you

    • Someone above asked about using coconut milk and they said it’s fine.

  8. Thank you so much for this! We have a liglht sleeper – he will sleep in until 7am or even longer, but only is a light sleeper during the night. I just want to share the ayurvedic perspective on you recipe – combining the tart cherry juice with dairy may be effective for sleep, BUT it is an unhealthy food combination, that can cause gut fermentation, and thus gassiness, tummy aches, constipation or loose stools {depending on your child’s constitution}. What happens is, the juice digests MUCH faster than the yogurt or other dairy source {dairy proteins take longer to digest}. When you consume them together, the juice sits in the stomach LONGER than it should, and starts to ferment. This leads to the things I mentioned above, as well as creates an environment for things like candida to thrive. Hope you don’t mind the extra traditional insight! Love your website.

  9. Could you start this at 11 months?

    • If you nurse, I would consume yourself and baby may get benefits. I believe it would be best to start tart juice at 18 months.

  10. I was wondering if tart cherry chewables would work. Neither of my kids are fans of the tartness enough to consume 8ounces twice a day. ESP. The kid that needs it!

    • We tried those with Griffin and they didn’t work. You could certainly try though!

  11. I so want to try this, but if I figured it up correctly, this drink will cost me over $30 twice a month (Even if I only give it to one child twice a day) That seems like a lot 😅 Is my math correct?

  12. I already tried using tart cherry capsules, it has help my 20mo baby to sleep until 6:00, and now he gets 13.5hr of sleep a day, he usually sleep 12.5hr and always was tired. I highly recommend the Dr. Polly Moore book, 90 minutes sleep programm. It has help me a lot, since my baby has a lot of trouble for sleep.

  13. Has anyone tried tart cherry supplements, themselves not necessarily with children, to see if those are equally as effective?

    • I just starting trying it and I’m a believer! I struggle with insomnia but since staying tart cherry juice I have slept 7-8 hours straight! This is a huge change for me. I’ve tried melatonin, glass of wine, benadryl… Tart cherry juice wins!

      • How often and how much do you take? I have insomnia and am trying it.

  14. I have a 10 month old baby that refuses to sleep. He is tired but for some reason he can not get some sleep… He wakes up at 2-3 am and don’t want to sleep even though he is tired… Please someone knows if it’s safe for a 10 month old baby!!! I have not Sleep for the past two months!!! Help

    • There is a 8-10 month sleep regression (I am also in it) that is temporary and will pass at this age! 🙂

  15. I made tart cherry gummies and was wondering if my 14 month old can have small amounts to help with sleep. I can’t find much about its safety for babies/toddlers online. Thanks!

  16. How long did you find it took to start working? Bought same brand as you, been trying it on my 3 year old son for 4 days so far.

  17. I was wondering if this affects the body’s natural ability to produce melatonin at appropriate times. I’ve always had a very challenging sleeper in my 3-year-old: early riser, sensitive to stimulus, does NOT fall sleep ANYWHERE but home in the dark of his room–no car naps, no random snoozes at grandparents house, takes forever to fall asleep at night, etc. We’ve been a slave to his sleep since he was about 4 months old. I’m currently giving him DHA as advised in a previous post and I dare say it’s helping, but we’re expecting baby #2 in a few months and I really NEED my 3-year-old to sleep deeply and reliably most of the time! I just don’t want to mess him up in any way by confusing his brain’s ability to kick on with the melatonin on its own. Do you know?

  18. Has this made anyones child drowsy during the day? We trried this tonight at dinner but Im nervous to give it in the am as I don’t want them drowsy during the day. Thanks!

    • We’ve been doing this for two days and it hasn’t made mine drowsy in the daytime. He napped well today (day 2), but there didn’t seem to be any inordinate sleepiness outside of naptime

  19. How much and how often would be recommended for a 2.5 year old and a 4 year old?

  20. I am going to try this for myself and my daughter. I wonder if the effects of the cherry juice would pass through breastmilk.

    • Im wondering the same!

  21. Everything I’ve read says to take it twice a day but won’t it make you drowsy having melatonin in the morning? Also, would it possibly help with naps for toddlers as well as at night?

  22. Do you know would the capsules work the same for kids? The concentrate is getting pricey!

  23. I’m struggling with trying to get my daughter to drink this at all. She doesn’t like it with the yogurt drink or diluted in water or straight up. Can she eat tart cherries, or can I make some food type recipe? Or would she have to eat an insane amount? I’m not sure what else to do since I’m so sleep deprived I can’t think anymore. Ideas?

    • What about making gummies using the tart cherry concentrate? You could use the same recipe, or just take out the kefir altogether, and add a few tablespoons of gelatin to it. My kids HATE kefir, but they’ll drink a similar beverage called Amasai from Beyond Organic. I’ve made something very similar to this using fresh tart cherries and boiling them down to a syrup consistency before pureeing to make gummies. Just a thought :).

  24. Hi, I wanted to know where can I buy that sippy cup ? Thank u

    • You can purchase them on Amazon

  25. Is there a big difference between tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice concentrate? I’ve been buying organic tart cherry juice at my local grocery store and adding that to kefir. My 19 month old is getting easier to put down at night, but still not completely putting himself to sleep and is still waking up at least once, when I usually bring him into our bed. Thanks!

    • I find the concentrate is more potent. It worked better for us. Glad you’re seeing some improvement!

      • Thanks, Genevieve! Think I’ll order some of the concentrate to see if it makes a difference. I’m so thankful for the improvement already, though! I used to have to nurse him almost completely asleep for him to go down in his crib, but now he will lay down awake without crying. Depending on how sleepy he is, he may ask my to hold his hand while he falls asleep, but the whole process is much shorter than it used to be. Now, just need to tackle the wake ups 😉

  26. hi there, my friend put me onto tart cherry juice – we are 2 nights in and not having much luck. I am giving him 5ml (which is equivalent to an ounce) an hour before bed in a syringe. How long does it take to start working? I read you put your sons in a yoghurt drink – could li just mix in with normal yoghurt he has for dessert?
    thanks again for sharing

    • How old is child? I gave Griffin two times a day. You can mix with water or yougurt or put in smoothies. Hope this helps!

    • Just FYI- 5ml is NOT one ounce. An ounce is 30ml.

      • She meant 5ml of concentrate is equivalent to 1 ounce of juice.

    • I do not think 5ml is equal to an ounce. There are 29 ml in an ounce. So you’d need that amount 2 times per day. Hope that helps.

      • So I think you need 1 ounce of concentrate, not one ounce of juice.

    • An ounce is not 5 ml. It is 30 ml. Adjust that and you might see some results. Keep in mind all bodies are different as well. Past substances used to aid sleep and other things can affect how well product works for you.

  27. I’ve used the juice to make your gelatin tummies, too. I just add extra honey. My daughter likes them, but my son isn’t crazy about them. I don’t think he cares for the flavor of the cherry juice itself. I will mix the juice with another juice in the evening and he likes it that way. But I’m going to buy some yogurt drink and try that, instead. I’m also not a big fan of too much juice.

  28. Hi Genevieve!

    Could you post the link for the video on Griffin’s yogurt drink? Cant find it and we are about to switch off of nursing and would to transition to that! Thanks!

  29. Hi Genevieve! I was wondering if tart cherry juice would help me since I don’t have an issue with sleeping, but rather with falling asleep. I’m actually taking medication to help me fall asleep since I have an overactive mind that keeps going well after my wished bedtime. I would like to find a more natural solution to my problem. Do you think it’s worth a shot in my case?

    • Hi Alexandra!
      The best natural remedy for a busy mind, stress and restless sleep is meditation. Try this 12 min one from UCLA as a start. Once you’ve practiced meditation, I think you’ll find it can help you relax and be more focused throughout the day. http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

    • My doctor carries homeopathic products in her office and recommended Calms Forte for me since stress is my issue. Might be worth a shot!

  30. Hi, thanks for your post. I read the study, but I didn’t see any amounts listed for the cherry juice. How did you come up with one ounce servings? I was hoping to try this for myself. I’m a fit 57 y.o. personal trainer who is, alas, experiencing the sleep issues that come as we age and our melatonin production naturally decreases. I love kefir and I love tart cherry juice, so I’m halfway there! … I just need to know how much an adult should “take”. Thanks!~

    • Teri, my physical therapist encouraged me to try 2 TBL concentrated cherry juice to help with inflammation and sleep cycle issues. I’ve just started it, so it’s hard to say was results I’ll get. BTW, I’m a 56 year old yoga instructor and also enjoy meditating as a way to relax. Good luck.

  31. I am so grateful for this post! My 16 month old just put herself to sleep for a second night in a row! She has been sleeping more and more soundly this week. She slept through the night from 5 weeks to 6 months of age. At 6 months she became increasingly restless, always needed to co-sleep (I mean no bathroom breaks for mama) and needed at least one hour of rocking before she would go down in her crib. Sleep had become difficult and fitful for her. We aren’t getting the extra hour of sleep in the morning but we may be getting more than an extra hour scattered throughout the night. Thank you for sharing this. It is changing our life and allowing my daughter to sleep peacefully again.

    • Awesome! Stick with it, and maybe you’ll get the extra hour in the morning too. The cherry juice twice a day in a yogurt drink – one in the aft, one before bed – works so well for us. We were recently on vacation and our son was back to his old early-rising ways. Back home and back on the cherry juice, he’s our sleeping champ.

  32. Hi Genevieve,
    I’m considering trying this with my 4 year old. I was wondering…does Griffin seem better rested now? Getting melatonin into his system during the daytime hours (his mid morning drink) doesn’t seem to make him sleepy or more tired during the day? Thanks so much!
    Allison

  33. Thanks for this post, I can’t wait to try it! I would love to see a post about how you got Griffin to sleep through the night as a young toddler and your sleep struggles/successes with him. Obviously Paloma has been completely different but I think a lot of us mamas struggle with this one!

    • Curious… I am in the same boat, same age l/o… Did you ever try it on your 7mo old?

  34. This week I’ve mixed coconut water with the tart cherry juice and I think it’s delicious! My daughter likes to drink the tart cherry juice 1:1 with water 🙂

    • She also liked it with coconut water 🙂

  35. Oh my gosh, my hubby and I could’ve have written this story Genevieve!! Our 2 year old son has been waking at 5:30 or earlier forever and we top have tried everything on your list! Nothing worked! HE LOVES KEFIR, so we’ll be giving this a try asap. This post is sent to us straight from God, thank you so much!

  36. I’m definitely going to try this. My son is almost 7 months old and from the beginning, he has not been a good sleeper. I can count on one hand the number of times that he has slept more than 3 hours in a row! I finally just started cosleeping with him on a bed on the floor in his room every night, and I love the arrangement, but your post has me wondering if this would help him to sleep for longer stretches at night. I am definitely going to give it a try!

  37. I am so excited to try this. But is there any age restrictions for this?

  38. Can i give it to my 9 month old to drink ?

    • Did you ever get around to asking your doctor if it is ok to give to you 9mo old?

    • I’m surimi’s as well. My son is 9 months and my doc didn’t know anything about it.

  39. I will be using my saved grocery money to buy this soon. My daughter has been an early riser I think since we moved here to Arizona. My husband and I get up early at 4:45 am and then she pops up. I’ve tried a lot of things too and lately I’ve just been having her rest on the coach until about 6:00 am.
    I’m looking forward to this juice working. She’s very active and does not like to miss out on anything. Also her bedroom is right next to the living room and kitchen. In our old apartment it was at the back of the house which is probably another reason why she wakes up early now.

  40. Just wondering, why exactly do you feel better about him ingesting the cherry juice with the yogurt rather than diluted in water? isn’t he still consuming the added sweetener/juice, anyway?

    • I think it’s because he started expecting juice for every beverage.

    • Because it’s balanced with a fat and protein (found in the whole yogurt or kefir).

  41. Great info ! My first baby was a “rooster baby” and arose with the sun every morning. I have just adjusted to rising early as well, although I would love to sleep in sometimes:)

  42. How young can you begin giving tart cherry juice?

  43. OMG Genevieve you are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this information!!!

    My 2 year old has been absolutely restless the past two weeks or so (one night she didn’t fall asleep until AFTER 1 a.m. YIKES!!)

    So I gave her organic tart cherry juice tonight and this is the first night in I don’t even know how long she is out like a light before 9pm!!!!

    I hope this continues!! Thanks again! I love your channel and website! You have helped me in so many ways but this is MAJOR! Haha

    • So you found this helped with going down for bed? How long before bedtime did you give it to her?

      • Yes. I think I gave it to her around 7:30 last night and she was out by 8:45.

        But tonight she didn’t like it as a yogurt drink and wanted it straight up. So I gave her 1 oz. she downed it. That was at 6:30 and she fell fast asleep by 7!! I didn’t even get to put her in her jammies yet!!

  44. I’m wondering the tart cherry juice would help my 2-year old fall asleep easier. No matter what time we try putting her to bed, she still takes between an hour and an hour and a half to settle down and fall asleep. Thoughts?

  45. Do you think this would help a little one go down to bed easier? My 2 year old, no matter what time we put her down, will be awake for an hour to hour and a half before finally settling into sleep.

    • Sorry! I didn’t see that my previous comment actually posted 🙂

  46. The breast shield makes another appearance! 😉 It really is the perfect funnel. Interesting about the tart cherry juice, I’ll definitely put that in the vault as our son gets older.

    • Haha, good eye mama! 😉 Reuse and repurpose, right?

  47. I’ve tried tart cherry juice with my boy and had mediocre results. But…. This is the first I’ve heard of giving it twice a day. I’m going to try it!
    The biggest negative for me is that tart cherry juice is pricey especially if you give it to a few kids and it’s a couple of ounces a day.

    • Yes, it can be. I buy in bulk on Vitacost or Amazon.

  48. How much and how often would you give to a 18 month old

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