Montmorency cherry juice significantly increases the levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone that regulates sleep, according to researchers.
Their findings could benefit those who have difficulty sleeping due to insomnia, shift work or jet lag.
In the study, led by Dr Glyn Howatson, 20 healthy volunteers drank a 30ml serving of either tart cherry juice 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.
The researchers led by Dr Glyn Howatson found that when participants drank cherry juice for a week there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin than the control condition and placebo drink samples.
The actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the cherry 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 per cent increase in their sleep efficiency.
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.
The findings will be published this week in the online edition of the European Journal of Nutrition.