I tried TikTok's trending sleepy girl mocktail for a week - as a Health Editor, here's why I'd advise against it

A deep dive into the current research.

Sleepy girl mocktail review: Health Editor Ally Head in bed after trying the sleepy girl mocktail
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you've been on TikTok in the last month, chances are you've seen an influencer or two raving about the supposed benefits of what they're calling the "sleepy girl mocktail." A mix of tart cherry juice, sparkling water and magnesium powder, the term was first coined by wellness influencer Gracie Norton last year who credits the concoction for curing her sleepless nights. 

While it looks like a little like red wine, it supposedly offers far more health benefits than a large glass of your favourite Argentinian Malbec. Of the host of supposed benefits, the most alluring has to be the unbroken and restful sleep TikTok users now swear they're having. We're a nation with sleep issues, you see, with stats showing that 7.5 million Brits get under five hours of shut-eye a night - three less than the NHS-recommended eight hours. That's probably why so many are throwing caution to the wind and jumping on the trend train with this new viral health hack.

Now, the real question: does it actually work? I wouldn't be a Health Editor if I hadn't tried it for you, now would I? Below, I share how I got on with the zingy bedtime elixir, plus share top tips from a sleep coach on how to get the best quality shut-eye. Don't miss what happened when MC staffers tried apple cider vinegar for weight loss, lemon water, ginger shots and mint water for their supposed health benefits, too.

My sleepy girl mocktail review - I tried for a week and have some thoughts

What is the sleepy girl mocktail?

According to Max Kirsten, a sleep coach, award-winning clinical hypnotherapist and Panda ambassador, the three main ingredients in the drink are:

  • Pure tart cherry juice
  • Magnesium powder
  • Some form of soda or sparkling water.

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Are the so-called health benefits of the sleepy girl cocktail proven?

First things first: it's key to point out that Norton isn't a qualified professional and so isn't really in a position to be doling out dietary advice. For information you can trust, it's always best to seek the advice of your local GP or a qualified nutritionist, dietician, or doctor. 

Not to mention, no supplement will be a cure-all or change your life. Most won't make much of a difference if you don't have the fundamentals down - that is, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good sleep hygiene.

So, what does the research say on the sleepy girl ingredients? "There's some evidence to suggest that consuming pure tart cherry juice may help promote sleepiness and improve sleep quality. Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle," shares Kirsten.

Case in point: "A 2010 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that consuming tart cherry juice increased melatonin levels and improved sleep quality in adults with insomnia. Another study published in the same journal in 2018 found that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks improved sleep quality and duration in adults over the age of 50."

That said, he stresses that far more research is needed to fully understand the effects of tart cherry juice on sleep. Not to mention, some cherry juice options in my local supermarkets were chock-full of sugar which, if you think about it, isn't a great pre-bedtime option unless you want to be riding a blood sugar rollercoaster and disrupting your sleep quality until the early hours. 

Magnesium, on the other hand, has long been hailed as a supplement that can boost both your sleep quality and quantity. "Magnesium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, including the regulation of sleep," the expert continues. "It's also involved in the production of melatonin and helps relax your muscles and calm your nervous system."

In short, magnesium has a calming effect on your nervous system, which can, in turn, help to reduce feelings of anxiety and positioning it as a great relaxation technique, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Not only that, but it's been found to reduce muscle tension, cramping, and inflammation, too.


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I tried the sleepy girl cocktail for seven days - and won't be continuing it

Days one to three

Day one and I'm very intrigued to see how this concoction makes me feel pre-bed. A bit of background for you, first: I've been something of a nutrition journey in the past year. As a near-30-year-old with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), I spent 2023 seeing nutritionists, dermatologists and dieticians to piece together a lifestyle that helped to ease my PCOS symptoms (I'm looking at you, low mood, lacking or irregular period, and hormonal acne). 

Twelve months down the line and I now prioritise foods that don't make my blood sugar spike - juice being one that most definitely does, so from the get-go, I was unsure about this trend. That said, I mix up my cherry juice, pop in my magnesium supplement, top it with sparkling water and sip while reading my book in bed. I opted for the organic Biona tart cherry juice from Waitrose as it's the lowest sugar option I can find. That said, most juices are naturally high sugar - so none are "low" sugar per se. One thing I do find annoying is that, once I'm all cosy in bed and relaxed after my drink, I then have to get up and brush my teeth - first world problems, I guess.

That night, I toss and turn for about thirty minutes before finally drifting off. Perhaps it's January stress, or perhaps I'm tired from that day's workout, but the so-called "sleep cure-all" sadly doesn't seem to help me drift off more quickly. The quality of my sleep isn't noticeably different, either, but on I soldier to day two.

On days two and three, I drink my sleepy girl mocktail after my evening meal in a bid to reduce my blood glucose spikes and do drift off quickly. That said, as someone who has supplemented magnesium consistently in the past, the effects feel similar, so I'm not sure how much the cherry juice and sparkling water are to thank here.


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Days four to seven

Come day four, and I decide to give the cherry-magnesium concoction a go as a more diluted shot. Not my best idea, as it actually just makes the sour flavour that bit more intense. Again, I sleep well, but not noticeably better than usual (it still takes me around 30 to 40 minutes to drift off). 

Days five and six roll around and I knock back my drink before bed. Those nights, I have the most vivid dreams I've had in a long time. I'd forgotten that this is a side effect of magnesium supplementing, and wake feeling a little disorientated (would rather have been at Glastonbury in the blazing sunshine with my mates like my dream had convinced me I was, tbh, but I guess Dry January is nearly over). 

By day seven, I'll be honest - I'm not a fan and actually give up trying the drink for the final day of testing (a first for me). As someone who doesn't really drink juice as is, forcing down a tart, sour cherry juice just before bed isn't for me. I like the idea and can see why tonics are booming in popularity right now - that said, no drink will ever be a cure-all. If your sleep issues are truly that persistent, it's always worth visiting your GP. 

Also important to note: magnesium isn't a cheap supplement, normally coming in at around £20 to £30 per month-long dosage, not to mention there are loads of different types varying in strength, variety, and efficacy, too. It's always best to speak to a qualified professional before spending lots of money on a supplement that may not work for you.

An expert's final verdict?

So, would Kirsten recommend you give it a go tonight? "Sleep-inducing drinks can be a helpful addition to your bedtime routine if you're looking to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality," he shares. That said, he stresses that it's important to choose the right ingredients and to consume these drinks in moderation, not every single night as the TikTokers advise.

Sugar-wise, as per the NHS website, adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, not to mention should be mindful of eating or drinking sugar-heavy drinks just before bed. Research suggests that consuming the sweet stuff before you attempt to drift off can wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels and actually keep you awake (thanks, sugar high). One of the tart cherry juice options I found in Sainsbury's had 9g of sugar per 200ml serving, which would equate to roughly a third of your daily sugar allowance.

That said, if you opt for alternatives that are low in sugar, there could be some benefits to be seen, the expert maintains. "Drinks that contain ingredients such as chamomile, lavender, valerian root, passionflower, or tart cherry juice have been preliminarily proven to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality," he shares. "These ingredients have natural sedative effects that can help calm the mind and promote a sense of relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night."

My suggestion? Save your money and don't take advice from TikTok "experts" who don't have formal qualifications. Snuggle up with a warm chamomile tea and pop a research-backed and expert-approved magnesium supplement, instead.

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Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.