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!