tart cherry juice mocktail sleepy girl mocktail

Social media, particularly TikTok, has become a treasure trove of wellness trends and health hacks. Among these, a tart cherry juice mocktail, dubbed the “Sleepy Girl Mocktail”, has recently emerged as a standout, not just for its deep red hue but for its purported benefits in enhancing sleep. But what exactly is this drink, and does it really work as a sleep aid? Let’s dive into the details and separate fact from social media fiction.

What is this tart cherry juice mocktail aka Sleepy Girl Mocktail?

Originally popularized by wellness influencers, the Sleepy Girl Mocktail (or tart cherry juice mocktail) is a non-alcoholic drink made from tart cherry juice, magnesium powder, and a carbonated, bubbly component like Olipop prebiotic “soda”. Its bright-red color and simple yet intriguing composition have made it a hit on platforms like TikTok, where users claim it helps in achieving a restful night’s sleep. But does this drink actually deliver? Let’s unravel the sleep-inducing mystery of this viral drink.

How to make the Sleepy Girl Mocktail

To make this tart cherry juice mocktail aka Sleepy Girl Mocktail, you’ll need:

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsweetened tart cherry juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of magnesium powder (whatever the serving size is listed as)
  • Plain or flavored sparkling or seltzer water or low-calorie “soda” (like Olipop or Poppi)
  • Ice, if desired

Combine the tart cherry juice and magnesium powder in a glass and mix until the magnesium powder has dissolved. Top off with your carbonated beverage of choice for a fizzy finish! Serve with ice if desired.

Sleepy Girl Mocktail ingredients: a closer look

  • Tart Cherry Juice: Known for its natural melatonin content, tart cherry juice is believed to have the potential to improve some sleep quality parameters. Additionally, it’s rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anthocyanins—compounds that give cherries their deep red hue.
  • Magnesium Powder: Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including those that regulate sleep. It’s thought to promote relaxation and reduce stress, which are essential for good night’s sleep.
  • Sparkling Water or Prebiotic, Low-Calorie “Soda”: A fizzy component that adds a pleasant effervescence to the mocktail but doesn’t contribute to its supposed sleep benefits.
tart cherry juice mocktail sleepy girl mocktail with rosemary sprig on top

The science behind the mocktail

Let’s examine the research behind the claimed sleep advantages of the active components in this tart cherry juice mocktail—tart cherry juice and magnesium.

Does tart cherry juice help you sleep?

No surprise here—tart cherry juice is a key component of this tart cherry juice mocktail, lauded for its natural sleep-promoting properties. Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the well-known hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Don’t get too excited just yet. Unfortunately, tart cherries contain only a small amount of melatonin. A study measuring melatonin levels in two tart cherry varieties revealed significant variation, with one type offering six times more melatonin than the other, yet even the highest source, Montmorency cherries, provided only 13.5 nanograms per gram.

Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we? Considering a bottle of Lakewood Organic Tart Cherry Juice is made from 3 pounds of cherries, this equates to approximately 18,370 nanograms of melatonin per bottle, or roughly 0.05 milligrams per cup of juice—and that’s likely an overestimate. The dose of melatonin recommended for sleep is 0.5 to 5 mg, which is 10 to 100 times that.

Research on the effects of tart cherry products on sleep, although very limited, has had mixed results. For example, a recent systematic review evaluating the effects of tart cherry juice on objective and subjective measures of sleep revealed that although some individuals may not perceive a subjective benefit, objective evidence suggests notable improvements in both total sleep time and sleep efficiency. However, it also highlighted important limitations, including small study sizes and a lack of long-term data, pointing to the need for further research to confirm these findings and explore the mechanisms behind tart cherry’s benefits.

Interestingly, a small randomized controlled trial (RCT) funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute, which was published after this review, found that contrary to expectations, there were no significant improvements in subjective sleep parameters with the consumption of 2 cups of Montmorency tart cherry (MTC) juice (or MTC powdered capsules) per day over a 30-day period compared to a placebo.

Tart cherry juice benefits

Tart cherries stand out for their high content of anthocyanins—compounds that give cherries their vibrant red hue—which research suggests may be 27% to 200% higher than that found in sweet cherries.

Anthocyanins, recognized for their potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, are able to neutralize oxygen free radicals and other reactive species, thereby potentially aiding in the reduction of oxidative stress associated with a range of health issues. And it’s these very anthocyanins that are believed to explain why tart cherry juice has been shown to enhance muscle recovery.

Best tart cherry juice for sleep

If you decide to give this tart cherry juice mocktail a go for sleep, opt for an unsweetened, no-sugar-added tart cherry juice as it’s already rich in sugar on its own. While many tart cherry juice labels may not indicate the specific variety of cherries used, juice made from Montmorency tart cherries is advisable. This variety is highly recommended for its superior melatonin and phytonutrient content compared to other types.

Bottom line: While the evidence on its effectiveness for sleep is mixed, tart cherry juice is a low-risk option that could still offer other health benefits, like offering a nice dose of disease-fighting anthocyanins. So, even if it doesn’t revolutionize your sleep, incorporating it into your diet, should you choose to, can still be a tasty and healthy choice.

tart cherry juice mocktail in short glass with shadow

Can magnesium help you sleep?

Magnesium is widely used for it’s purported sleep-promoting properties. It’s thought to aid sleep by acting as a GABA agonist, enhancing the activity of this neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and stress reduction, both crucial for quality sleep. It also plays a role in regulating sleep-related hormones, potentially increasing melatonin, which governs our sleep-wake cycle, and balancing other hormones like cortisol, associated with stress.

Anecdotally speaking, magnesium supplements are incredible for sleep, with no shortage of 5-star Amazon reviews attesting to their effectiveness. Interestingly, however, research on the effects of magnesium supplementation on sleep quality parameters doesn’t appear to echo this level of acclaim. 

A recent systematic review explored the relationship between magnesium intake and sleep quality in adults, assessing both observational and interventional studies. Although the observational research indicated a positive association between higher magnesium status and better sleep quality, such as reduced daytime sleepiness and longer sleep duration, the intervention trials presented mixed results.

Similarly, a separate systematic review of three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) totaling 151 older adults found that magnesium supplementation’s impact on insomnia symptoms may range from beneficial to negligible compared to a placebo, with the most noteworthy finding being a 17 minute reduction in the time it takes to fall asleep. Despite these uncertainties and the overall low quality of the evidence, the authors suggest that the low cost and wide availability of oral magnesium might justify its use for potential improvements in sleep.

Best magnesium for sleep

When considering the best magnesium for sleep, magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate stand out due to their high absorption rates. Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine) is particularly noteworthy as it includes the amino acid glycine, which has been independently studied for its potential sleep-enhancing benefits, though there is limited human research to fully confirm these effects.

Our favorite magnesium powder to use in this tart cherry juice mocktail is Natural Vitality Calm Magnesium Powder in raspberry lemon flavor or unflavored.

If you’re looking for a straightforward way to incorporate magnesium into your routine without the extra steps, opting for a capsule supplement (instead of a powder) might be easier. Capsules provide a quick, no-fuss method to get your daily dose of magnesium, ensuring you receive its benefits with minimal effort.

tart cherry juice mocktail sleepy girl mocktail with in clear glass with shadow and ice bucket

Bottom line: can the Sleepy Girl Mocktail help you sleep?

While individual responses may vary, the ingredients of this tart cherry juice mocktail (aka Sleepy Girl Mocktail) have properties that could theoretically improve sleep. Tart cherry juice’s natural melatonin content, along with magnesium’s relaxation effects, make a case for the drink’s potential as a sleep aid—and, so, we can’t say this trend is all hype.

While it’s certainly not a cure-all for sleep issues, it could be a pleasant addition to your nighttime routine to help you wind down. However, remember that maintaining overall sleep hygiene is crucial. Factors like reducing screen time before bed, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, and ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment play a significant role in achieving quality sleep.

And final note of caution: it’s best not to consume this tart cherry juice mocktail immediately before bed, as it could lead to a nighttime trip to the bathroom, disturbing your peaceful slumber.