What is the “sleepy girl mocktail”—and should your patients drink it?

By Lisa Marie Basile | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published May 17, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • A new TikTok trend calls for tart cherry juice and magnesium powder in a mocktail to treat insomnia.

  • The mocktail may help some fall asleep soundly, but it may not be safe for patients taking some prescription medication.

Social media apps allow countless creators and influencers to share their favorite beauty and wellness trends. From vaginal dabbing to face taping, there’s a chance your patients are either being exposed to or engaging in some trend du jour. 

One of the newest? The “sleepy girl mocktail,” a drink containing sleep-inducing supplements topped off with a non-alcoholic fizzy beverage. According to BuzzFeed, the sleepy girl mocktail was originally created by TikTok user Calee Shea. Still, it gained virality after Gracie Nortion also posted her own sleepy girl mocktail on the platform.[] 

In the video by Calee Shea, tart cherry juice was poured into a glass over ice with a bit of prebiotic Olipop soda. Norton, however, added a teaspoon of magnesium powder to the glass before adding “a cup to a cup and a half” of tart cherry juice. Norton also topped it off with a bit of Olipop soda. “I got the best sleep of my life,” Norton shared.

There are other recipe variations on the Internet. Some sleepy girl mocktails are made with apple cider vinegar or sparkling water in lieu of soda. 

A closer look at tart cherry juice 

Tart cherry juice—made from the Montmorency cherry, which is the most popular sour cherry in the US—contains L-tryptophan, or tryptophan, which has been shown in studies to shorten waking after sleep onset.[][][] 

Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, adds that tart cherry juice also contains melatonin, which “can help regulate sleep patterns and promote restful sleep.” In fact, a small study found that tart cherry juice increased urinary melatonin content, leading to “significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency total.” The study also found that “tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep.”[]

According to another small sleep study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, subjects with insomnia who drank 240 mL of cherry juice twice per day for two weeks saw increased sleep time (84 minutes on polysomnography) and efficiency.[]

Despite tart cherry juice’s potential effectiveness, a sleepy girl mocktail isn’t for everyone, says Sabat, who suggests that certain patients exercise caution when drinking tart cherry juice. 

“Pure tart cherry juice is generally safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts. However, patients with certain medical conditions, like diabetes or kidney problems, may need to exercise caution due to the sugar content in the juice.” More importantly, Sabat says, some patients could experience gastrointestinal discomfort or allergic reactions to tart cherries.

Whether your patients are drinking melatonin through tart cherry juice or using a melatonin supplement, they’ll want to know that the FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement. Therefore, there is no defined appropriate dosage. However, doses used in studies range from 0.1 to 10 mg, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). 

“Melatonin supplements are generally considered safe for short-term use by most people,” Sabat says, “but it's important to use them under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with certain medical conditions or those taking medications that could interact with melatonin.” More specifically, your pregnant or breastfeeding patients should avoid using melatonin. Exercise caution about melatonin use in patients with impaired liver function or autoimmune conditions and patients undergoing dialysis.[]

Some people using melatonin supplements in higher doses or with extended-release formulas will experience drowsiness, daytime sleepiness, headaches, and nausea Patients should also be warned against using melatonin or drinking the sleepy girl cocktail if they are already using benzodiazepines or zolpidem, as this can cause “excessive sedation,” says the NLM.[] 

Patients should also know that melatonin can cause nightmares. In fact, some people who tried the sleepy girl mocktail reported having vivid dreams.[] 

A look at magnesium powder for sleep

Magnesium powder, the drink’s other optional ingredient, improves sleep by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. In a small study of elderly adults, dietary magnesium supplementation was found to “improve subjective measures of insomnia.”[]

However, a review in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that while oral magnesium supplements taken to improve insomnia symptoms may be beneficial, the “quality of literature is substandard for physicians to make well-informed recommendations on usage of oral magnesium for older adults with insomnia.”

“Magnesium powder is generally safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses,” Sabat adds. “However, some individuals may experience digestive issues or mild side effects such as diarrhea.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s recommended daily allowances of no more than 400 and 310 mg, respectively, for adult men and women between the ages of 19 and 30, and 420 and 320 mg, respectively, for men and women aged 31 and older. 

The sleepy girl mocktail could also interfere with some patients’ medications, including antibiotics, aminoglycosides, blood pressure medications, medications for diabetes, and hormone replacement therapy.[]  

What should physicians know about the sleepy girl mocktail?

While the sleepy girl mocktail may be safe for many people, Sabat says, “some individuals have specific health conditions, allergies, or sensitivities that could make certain ingredients or dosages unsuitable for them.” 

Moreover, the drink might not bring on those coveted Zzzs for some people. “The overall effectiveness of any sleep aid can vary from person to person,” Sabat adds. In this case, exploring a patient’s overall sleep hygiene may be more beneficial.

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