A research conducted at the Northumbria University reveals that drinking tart cherry juice concentrate significantly improves both the quality and duration of sleep.

Researchers found that tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate increases the levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone which regulates sleep, and could benefit those who have difficulty in sleeping due to insomnia, shift work or jet lag.

The research was led by Glyn Howatson in collaboration with Cherryactive. Twenty healthy volunteers drank a 30ml serving of either tart cherry juice concentrate or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days.

Urine samples were collected from all participants before and during the investigation to determine levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that heavily influences the human sleep-wake cycle.

During the study, the participants wore an actigraphy watch sensor which monitored their sleep and wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns.

The researchers found that when participants drank tart cherry juice concentrate for a week, there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin (15-16%) than the control condition and placebo drink samples.

However, the actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the juice saw an increase of around 15 minutes to the time spent in bed, 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a 5-6% increase in their 'sleep efficiency', a global measure of sleep quality.

Cherry juice drinkers reported less daytime napping time compared to their normal sleeping habits before the study and the napping times of the placebo group.

"We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise. Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process, which is often forgotten. These results show that tart cherry juice concentrate can be used to facilitate sleep in healthy adults and, excitingly, has the potential to be applied as a natural intervention, not only to athletes, but to other populations with insomnia and general disturbed sleep from shift work or jet lag," Howatson said in a statement.

He said this was the first study to show direct evidence that supplementing your diet with a tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate leads to an increase in circulating melatonin and provides improvements in sleep amongst healthy adults.

"What makes these findings exciting is that the melatonin contained in tart cherry juice concentrate is sufficient to elicit a healthy sleep response. These results provide us with more evidence surrounding the relationship between how we sleep and what we consume," co-author of the research and Director of the Centre for Sleep Research Jason Ellis said.