by Bryan Darrow | July 01, 2007

CherriesTired of jet lag? Trouble sleeping on the road? Try stocking your carry-on bag with dried cherries. According to, an organization sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute, eating a handful of cherries may help keep travelers bright-eyed and well-rested.

Recent studies have revealed that cherries -- particularly tart varieties -- are high in melatonin, which helps stabilize a person’s sleep-wake cycle, inducing sleepiness by night and wakefulness by day. Sold dried, frozen or as juice, tart cherries top the charts for best natural source of melatonin, beating out bananas, corn and oats.

Dr. Russel J. Reiter, a nutrition researcher at the University of Texas, says people with high levels of melatonin typically go to sleep quicker after they lie down and maintain better sleep throughout the night. As he puts it, “Melatonin opens the sleep gate and permits you to enter.”

For best results, melatonin should be ingested 30 to 45 minutes before bed each evening.