Nature's Sleep Aid: The Incredible Sleep Benefits of Berries

Everyone knows that berries are delicious and super healthy. But did you know they can help you sleep better? This article talks about how different berries help with sleep and how to incorporate them into a relaxing bedtime routine, along with some berry juice recipes to help you wind down before bed.

Will berries help you sleep better?

­In botany, a berry is a fruit that comes from a single ovary of an individual flower. However, people call any small, fleshy fruit a berry. For example, cranberries, blueberries, and even bananas are true berries, while strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries aren’t. They’re actually aggregate fruits.

But no matter what you call them, these fruits offer numerous health benefits. One of them is their potential positive impact on sleep.

What research says

A study published in 2023 analyzed the sleep and dietary habits of 29,217 adults. Among the participants, 46% reported insufficient sleep, while 27% said they experienced sleep problems. Approximately 22% of the participants said they included berries in their diet. Those who consumed berries were less likely to sleep less than seven hours per night.

When the scientists analyzed different types of berries, the results remained the same: people who ate strawberries and blueberries were less likely to have short sleep compared to those who didn’t eat berries. But interestingly, people who consumed blackberries had fewer sleep difficulties.

Benefits of berries for sleep

In general, berries are packed with nutrients like phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This combination gives them medicinal properties, including potentially improving sleep.

While there’s evidence suggesting that consuming berries may be linked to better sleep, only a limited number of studies have examined the effects of specific types of berries on sleep quality.

It’s important to note that different berries can have distinct nutrient profiles and offer slightly different health benefits. Here are a few examples:

Strawberries

Of all fruits, strawberries stand out for their high amounts of melatonin. This hormone is critical in regulating our biological clock and inducing sleep.

Additionally, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 59 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of fruit. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, meaning it can prevent oxidative stress, often linked with sleep disorders, and help support healthy sleep.

Cherries

Besides melatonin, cherries contain tryptophan and serotonin, which are both involved in the production of melatonin. Tryptophan serves as a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep. Serotonin, in turn, can be converted into melatonin and help regulate sleep.

A preliminary study showed that older people who drank tart cherry juice for two weeks had a significant improvement in insomnia complaints.

Cranberries

Cranberries are one of the berries with the greatest antioxidant power due to their high concentration of phytochemicals (plant-based bioactive compounds), such as flavonols and anthocyanins. These substances inhibit oxidative damage induced by reactive oxygen species, potentially protecting the body from the harmful effects of sleep loss.

They are also rich in vitamin E, which could improve sleep quality.

Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals, which gives them high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both essential to healthy sleep.

Additionally, they contain vitamin K, which has been linked in some studies to shorter sleep duration when the levels of this vitamin are low.

Berry juice recipes for sleep

Incorporating berry juice into your pre-sleep routine may be worth trying if you enjoy the taste and find it relaxing. Here are a few recipes for you to make at home:

Sleepy girl mocktail

The sleepy girl mocktail, a viral trend on TikTok, promises to solve your sleeping problems. To make it, mix tart cherry juice, soda water, and magnesium powder and drink it before bedtime.

The reason it might work is because the cocktail has two ingredients thought to promote better sleep: magnesium and tart cherry juice. Tart cherry juice contains melatonin and magnesium, which calms the nervous system. However, more research is needed to prove the effects of these nutrients on sleep.

Strawberry banana juice

To make strawberry banana juice or smoothie, blend fresh strawberries and ripe bananas with cold water or ice. If you prefer, sweeten it with honey or sugar.

The melatonin found in strawberries may contribute to a restful sleep. Bananas are rich in magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan, which contribute to relaxation and support better sleep.

Blueberry lavender juice

Making blueberry lavender juice is easy. Blend fresh or frozen blueberries with water until smooth, adding a tablespoon of dried culinary lavender for added fragrance. Optionally, sweeten with sugar or honey and enhance the flavor with lemon juice.

Drinking blueberry juice before going to bed may help you sleep better. That’s because blueberries are loaded with antioxidants linked to various health benefits, including improved sleep quality. The lavender in this recipe helps you relax, making it easier to fall asleep.

How to incorporate berries into your bedtime routine

You may have heard that eating late at night can interfere with your sleep cycles. While this can be true for heavy meals, there are specific foods and drinks that can actually help you snooze better when consumed before bedtime.

Berries are perfect bedtime snacks because they're light on calories and packed with nutrients. Have a small serving of berries (around 1/2 to 1 cup) or a glass of juice an hour or two before bed, and you’ll be ready to enjoy a more restful sleep.

Possible risks

Most people can benefit from drinking berry juice before bed. However, some individuals may experience certain discomforts, for example:

  • Allergic reactions. Some people may be allergic to certain types of berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Consuming them could trigger an allergic reaction that can range from mild itching to more severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing.
  • High sugar intake. Some commercially available berry juices are high in sugar. Consuming large amounts of sugary juices can contribute to weight gain and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Gastrointestinal issues. The high fiber content and natural sugars in berries may lead to digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, and diarrhea in individuals with sensitive stomachs.
  • Interaction with medications. Some berries, such as grapefruit, can interfere with the metabolism of certain medications by inhibiting enzymes in the liver. This can reduce the effectiveness of the medicine or lead to side effects.

Berries are great bedtime snacks as they’re packed with nutrients that help promote better sleep. As each berry has its own characteristics, choose the one you like best and incorporate it into your pre-sleep routine in the way you think is most appropriate, whether consuming fresh, an extract, or a juice. Pay attention to your body's signals — if you feel any discomfort when consuming berries, suspend consumption. Consult a doctor if you are taking any medication.

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