Michele Ross is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She primarily covers beauty, wellness, nutrition, and culture, and her goal is to empower readers to make informed decisions about their routines. Both on and off the clock, she geeks out on skin care ingredient deep dives, astrology, and K-pop.

These days, the wellness world (and its enclaves on social media) can’t get enough of tart cherries — aka Montmorency cherries or sour cherries — and especially their juice. Not only is tart cherry juice a key ingredient in the viral Sleepy Girl Mocktail, but it’s also a powerful ally for several aspects of well-being.

In this guide, we’re covering the bountiful tart cherry juice benefits for your health. Plus: how to reap the rewards by including the drink in your own before bedtime routine.

#1 Improved Sleep 

Tart cherry juice’s most recent claim comes courtesy of its inclusion in the Sleepy Girl Mocktail. The richly pigmented ingredient contributes delicious flavor and pro-snooze potential, to boot.

Montmorency tart cherry juice boasts a relatively high content of Melatonin, aka the sleep hormone. The body produces Melatonin naturally to encourage rest at nightfall. Any number of things — such as light exposure, stimulating activity, and stress — can throw natural hormone levels off balance. As such, many people supplement with Melatonin to help them drift off to sleep. 

Prefer to sip your way to a sounder snooze? Because of the high content of Melatonin, drinking tart cherry juice before bed will help you sleep. The benefits of tart cherry juice concentrate show a world of benefits in this department. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2012, investigated the sleep-promoting effects of tart cherry juice amongst 20 healthy volunteers. Those who sipped on the tonic nightly for 7 days logged:

  • Significantly elevated Melatonin levels
  • Significant increases in total sleep time
  • Significant improvements in sleep efficiency

Another 2018 study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics investigated the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice for people over the age of 50 with insomnia. Within 2 weeks of intake, participants experienced:

  • Longer sleep time
  • Improved sleep efficiency
  • Increased availability of tryptophan, an amino acid that can boost sleep quality and mood

In short, tart cherry juice may benefit people who have low Melatonin levels and/or struggle with insomnia. It’s no surprise that this drink can help you sleep. To yield the best benefits of this melatonin-rich drink, enjoy it nightly over the course of a week or two, as the studies above suggest.

#2 Exercise Recovery 

The health benefits of tart cherry juice aren’t limited to better sleep alone. Research shows that the beverage can also promote post-workout muscle recovery, no matter if you’re a casual gym-goer or an elite athlete.

According to a 2022 review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, sipping on tart cherry juice concentrate for a few days leading up to a strenuous workout can accelerate the time it takes for your muscles to recover. They’re careful to add a caveat, stating that it’s not a one-and-done deal. As is the case with most dietary supplements, you’ll reap the greatest rewards of exercise recovery with consistent intake. (While you’re at it, keep up with your go-to physical forms of muscle recovery — such as foam rolling, massage, and the like.)

#3 Athletic Endurance

Pro athletes have been privy to the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice well before the drink became more mainstream. It can hold a powerful place in their regimens not only since tart cherry juice supports muscle soreness but also improves endurance and overall performance while training.

Per a 2020 review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who drank tart cherry juice for a week within a 90-minute exercise window experienced significant improvements in endurance during exercise.

#4 Improved Heart Health 

Tart cherry extract or juice is rich in anthocyanins, a class of polyphenols under the wider umbrella of antioxidants. Anthocyanins can improve cellular function for a range of impressive benefits, with stronger markers of heart health among them.

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients, adult participants aged 65 to 80 who drank this health tonic for 12 weeks experienced:

  • Reductions in systolic blood pressure
  • Lower levels of LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” type of cholesterol)

The researchers noted that anthocyanins and flavonols are major contributors to the cardioprotective benefits of tart cherry juice.

Tip: You don’t need to limit your intake of anthocyanins to Montmorency cherry juice alone. These antioxidants are naturally found in darkly pigmented berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, and elderberries), as well as in the likes of red grapes and red plums.

#5 Cognitive Function 

Tart cherry juice is rich in various antioxidants, which is great news for countless aspects of your health — including brain health. (Remember: Antioxidants help to fight off oxidative stress, which is a key driver of accelerating aging.) 

One randomized placebo-controlled study, published in the journal Food and Function in 2019, investigated the effects of drinking 2 cups of tart cherry juice daily in generally healthy adults aged 65 to 73 with normal cognitive function. Over the course of 12 weeks, compared to the placebo group, members of the juice group boasted:

  • An increase in satisfaction with working memory
  • A reduction in movement time in response to visual stimuli
  • Significantly fewer errors during a visual memory task for new learning
  • An improvement in visual sustained attention
  • Fewer errors during a spatial working memory task, which requires memory and strategy

While the sample size for this study was relatively small at 37 participants, the results show the promise of tart cherry juice for cognitive health — including the ability to learn new things — even in mature populations. However, the researchers note that further studies are needed to confirm these findings on tart cherry juice

Cellular Waters

Incorporating Tart Cherries’ Benefits to Your Wellness Routine 

Whether you want to improve your sleep, complement your workouts, or generally boost your long-term health outcomes, drinking tart cherry juice is a natural way to do all of this and then some.

To experience the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice, consider mixing and matching the following techniques and recipes below.

Make a Sleepy Girl Mocktail 

Again, many people have been enjoying tart cherry juice during their nightly wind-down routine via the famed Sleepy Girl Mocktail. While some recipes (and ingredients) will vary, this one’s among the most popular of the bunch:

  • 1 tsp Berry Magnesi-Om®
  • 2 oz tart cherry juice
  • 10 oz sparkling water
  • Ice

The natural Magnesium powder will amplify the sleep-promoting and body-relaxing benefits of tart cherry juice. It packs 310 mg of 3 bioavailable types of Magnesium (Chelated Magnesium Gluconate, Magnesium Acetyl Taurinate, and Magnesium Citrate) — plus 112 mg of calming L-theanine. Altogether, the ingredients in Magnesi-Om® help to: 

  • Support muscle relaxation and cognitive function
  • Support regular bowel movements
  • Encourage calm and focus

Enjoying Magnesium before bed is also a great idea to help ease your mind and body to rest. Magnesium can calm your nervous system and help you destress, thus permitting you to fall asleep faster.

Mixed with tart cherry juice and sparkling water, Magnesi-Om® provides a tasty, non-habit-forming sleep aid. You can rely on it every night or when you need to chill.

Drink It Solo 

Most of the research exploring the benefits of tart cherry juice to date has investigated intake of the juice on its own, at 2 cups per day max. While the sour taste might not be suitable for everyone’s palate, the sweet rewards may make it worth your while.

Tip: As beneficial as the drink can be for many aspects of well-being, it’s still a source of sugar (albeit natural). Per the USDA, 2 cups pack a whopping 65 grams of sugar — yet a more modest serving size of 2 oz will offer just shy of 8 grams of sugar. When shopping for tart cherry juice, aim to buy unsweetened varieties whenever possible to help keep your added sugar intake within healthy bounds.

Mix It into Water 

Not keen to drink it up on its own and want to enjoy the benefits of tart cherry juice earlier in the day? Add a 2 oz shot of tart cherry juice to water as part of your morning routine. This route will allow you to enjoy its health benefits, replenish hydration lost overnight, and add flavor to plain H2O. Better yet, this will help you avoid loading up on too much added sugar at once while still getting its antioxidants circulating in your system.

Add It to a Smoothie

Last but not least, you can always add a shot of tart cherry concentrate or juice to a smoothie. Paired with other standard smoothie fares — like your go-to plant-based milk, greens, fruits, nut butter, seeds, and/or protein powders — you’ll reap the many rewards of tart cherries via a nutritionally balanced mini-meal or snack.

The Takeaway 

The benefits of tart cherry juice go well beyond promoting more restful ZZZs. Even if you’re lucky and log solid shuteye night after night, drinking tart cherry juice can be a potent ally for your physical fitness regimen. According to studies to date, the antioxidant-rich beverage can also improve various markers of heart health and cognition, helping to keep your mind and body in peak shape as the years pass by.

As powerful and protective as tart cherry juice can be, it’s important to remember that it’s not a magic bullet. Aim to incorporate the drink as part of a well-rounded, plant-forward diet and a healthy, low-stress lifestyle that includes plenty of movement, rest, and relaxation. (Moreover, some people — including those who need to limit their sugar intake, have specific health conditions, and take medications daily — should consult their healthcare team before adding tart cherry juice to their regimen.)