Influencers on social media love raving about their “life-changing” tips, tricks and hacks, don’t they?
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Too often, it’s shaky pseudo-science that winds up going viral, though (sorry, but rubbing banana peels on your face won’t give you wrinkle-free skin). But occasionally, there’s some scientific basis for their recommendations. And they may work — at least in theory.
That’s the case for the so-called “sleepy girl mocktail” that’s making its rounds online. Proponents say the combination of tart cherry juice, magnesium powder and a fizzy mixer like sparkling water or prebiotic soda is “a match made in heaven for good sleep.”
And it actually might help.
“There’s sound science to back up the idea that a drink like this could help you relax and possibly fall asleep faster,” says registered dietitian Devon Peart, RD, MHSc. “But it’s not a cure for insomnia or a sure-fire antidote to poor sleep.”
It’s also worth noting that the social media-fueled sleepy girl mocktail’s name is based on the influencers who started sharing it, who identify as the namesake “girl.” The mocktail will work the same, regardless of your gender or sex assigned at birth.
So, what is the sleepy girl mocktail, and should it be part of your bedtime routine? Peart explains.
What is the sleepy girl mocktail?
The basic recipe for the sleepy girl mocktail is simple:
- 1/2 cup pure tart cherry juice.
- 1 tablespoon of magnesium powder.
- A bit of fizzy drink to cut it, like a prebiotic soda or sparkling water.
Simply stir, sip and sleep tight (or so the story goes).
How the sleepy girl mocktail affects sleep
The ratios and the fizzy stuff used in sleepy girl mocktail recipes can vary a bit, but the important parts — tart cherry juice and magnesium powder — are the stars. And both these ingredients have been shown in some limited research to support relaxation and promote sleep.
Tart cherry juice: Melatonin and anti-inflammatory
Both sweet cherries (the ones you’re most likely to snack on) and tart cherries (which you typically find in pies and other backed goods) are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
But tart cherries, also called Montmorency cherries, come with some additional nutrients, which have given them a reputation for bringing on better sleep:
- Naturally high amounts of melatonin, the “sleepy hormone.”
- Tryptophan, an amino acid used in the production of serotonin and melatonin. (It’s also why you might associate your turkey dinner with sleepiness.)
In small studies of older adults with insomnia, drinking tart cherry juice before bed resulted in longer and more restful sleep.
And while tart cherries’ melatonin and tryptophan would seem the obvious reasons for promoting better sleep, Peart says the reason tart cherry juice may help you relax may also be due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
“There is probably some benefit to the melatonin content in tart cherry juice, but some small studies suggest the main benefit is the anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries,” she elaborates. “Anti-inflammatory foods like tart cherries can help lower our stress hormones and make us more able to relax and get into a sleep state.”
Popping a few tart cherries before bedtime may also bring on some relaxation and help you get some ZZZs, but fresh tart cherries can be hard to come by. Tart cherry juice, on the other hand, is probably more easily available at your local grocery store. Peart suggests choosing juice that’s unsweetened (without added sugars).
Magnesium: A natural muscle relaxer
The other main ingredient in the sleepy girl mocktail is magnesium powder.
“Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different reactions in your body. It’s used for lots of different things,” Peart shares. “It’s a fairly common supplement that a lot of people use. And one of its benefits is that it may promote physical and mental relaxation (a sense of calm), which could make magnesium a helpful sleep aid for some people.”
There are several different kinds of magnesium supplements available, and recipes for sleepy girl mocktails that you find online don’t always indicate which kind to use.
Peart suggests magnesium glycinate as a first choice for promoting relaxation. Others, like magnesium citrate, are more likely to have a laxative effect, which can derail your sleep goals.
Researchers say about half the U.S. population doesn’t get enough magnesium in their diet.
If you want to try some in your evening mocktail, Peart suggests starting with 100 to 200 milligrams (mg) of magnesium. You can also up your intake of magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.
But remember, magnesium may act as a natural muscle relaxant, which could help you get some rest, but it’s not a cure-all.
“Magnesium isn’t directly sleep-inducing,” Peart clarifies. “But it can help you relax so you can get into a sleep state. So, indirectly, it could be helpful.”
Does the sleepy girl mocktail work?
Combining tart cherry juice and magnesium powder into a sleek sleepy girl mocktail may help to bring about a better night’s sleep. But it’s not a magic bullet.
“I would put it in the category of ‘it’s worth a try,’ as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that make it risky for you to have tart cherries or magnesium,” Peart advises. “If your options are something like a sleepy girl mocktail versus a medication sleep aid, I’d say it’s OK to try something like this first before turning to medication.”
She suggests trying the mocktail about an hour before bed. That will give it time to work through your system.
But consider the sleepy girl mocktail as just one more avenue to help your body prepare for bed. To work effectively, it needs to be paired with other sleep-inducing activities, like turning off electronics an hour before sleep, engaging in calming activities before going to bed, and keeping regular sleep and wake times.
“Perhaps even more powerful than the ingredients themselves is its role in the ritual of getting your body ready for sleep — what we call sleep hygiene,” Peart states. “So, if you incorporate a sleepy girl mocktail into a routine that promotes sleep, it’s more likely to be effective.”
Sleep is a critical part of keeping your body and your mind healthy. So, it’s important to find ways to make sure you’re getting the rest you need. If you want to try adding the sleepy girl mocktail to your bedtime routine, talk with a healthcare provider about any chronic conditions or medication that may not react well with tart cherry juice or magnesium powder.