Having a hard time falling asleep? UAB expert sheds light on new sleep aid trend

One UAB expert offers thoughts on the viral “sleepy girl mocktail.”
Written by: Katherine Kirk
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

Stream SGMOne UAB expert offers thoughts on the viral “sleepy girl mocktail.”The “sleepy girl mocktail” is the newest sleep aid trend on social media platforms. The mocktail is a mixture of tart cherry juice, magnesium and prebiotic soda. Social media influencers have added this concoction over ice to their bedtime routine, but does it really work?

S. Justin Thomas, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, says this drink might be worth a try.

“My guess is that both magnesium and cherry juice are included because they are thought to help with sleep. My approach to supplements like this is to say it probably can’t hurt,” he said.

Thomas, who is also the director of the UAB Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic, notes that the research behind tart cherry and magnesium as a sleep aid is minimal and there is no definitive answer to whether they work. It could be possible that the mocktail works as a placebo.

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“It is possible that this mocktail works as a placebo,” Thomas said. “The placebo effect is quite strong and shouldn’t be discounted. I imagine most people with sleep issues aren’t concerned about how it works, just if it works.”   

The mocktail aspect of the drink is important as alcohol disrupts sleep. Thomas says that, while alcohol may shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, a lot of studies show that it increases the number of awakenings in the middle of the night.  

1206453175582712.lpsHZfaKm8rMLzCOsd74 height640Justin Thomas, Ph.D.While it is possible that the mocktail may aid with sleep, Thomas always recommends having a relaxing bedtime routine that avoids light exposure and electronic device use at least two hours before bed.  

“Anyone having difficulty falling or staying asleep at least three nights per week may have insomnia, and we know from research that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is the best treatment, even over sleep medication,” Thomas said. “Individuals with sleep concerns or disorders should talk with their primary care physician and see if CBT-I is recommended.”

While the “sleepy girl mocktail” might not be a long-term solution for sleep issues, it might not hurt to try on restless nights. He says it is safe to take every night, but one should be aware that magnesium can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.  

“If this mocktail helps someone with sleep, I would recommend they keep using it because a little extra magnesium and cherry juice won’t hurt,” Thomas said.