The Little-Known Berry That's Low-Calorie And Can Help You Sleep

Most berries deliver good looks, tons of taste, and enticingly few calories. Yet one berry that's native to Asia is becoming the go-to choice for people who are tired of being tired. What is this treat for the eyes, mouth, and brain? It's the bright goji berry, and it's making headlines for its snooze-worthy properties.

If you've never seen goji berries up close and personal, picture a small, elongated cherry tomato. But don't expect your first taste of a fresh or dried goji berry to be reminiscent of a tomato in flavor. Goji berries pack a bit of a sweet-sour pop and have been compared to cranberries for their tartness. However, don't let their lack of super-sweetness stop you from digging into them, especially if you're looking for a nutrient powerhouse that can help you snag some better zzzs.

And this berry's nutritional stats are strong. Dried goji berries clock in at just under 100 calories per five-tablespoon helping, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means you won't break the belly-busting bank by snacking on them. You won't disappoint your body, either; the same five-tablespoon serving of goji berries contains more than three grams of fiber, 7500 IUs of vitamin A, more than 13 grams of vitamin C, and negligible fat. They're also antioxidant-rich, as noted in a 2022 review from Antioxidants.

In other words, you could benefit from eating goji berries for their nutritional properties alone. However, you could doubly benefit if you're experiencing sleep difficulties.

Bedtime benefits of the goji berry

The Cleveland Clinic estimates that around 50 million people throughout the United States struggle with their sleep. If you're one of them, you may want to test out the goji berry's reputation for yourself, although science has already done some legwork to back up anecdotal sleep-related evidence about the berry.

The sleep-inducing potential of goji berries was on full display during a 2008 randomized clinical study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The study spent two weeks logging and analyzing participants' sleep responses. About half of the participants drank four ounces of goji berry juice daily; the rest were given the same amount of a placebo juice.

By the study's conclusion, approximately half of the participants who were given authentic goji berry juice said they didn't feel as exhausted upon awakening, and around seven out of 10 told the study authors it was easier to get awake. In contrast, the participants who guzzled the placebo juice didn't have the same sleep enhancement experiences.

Though this was just one study, it illustrates why sources like WebMD recommend trying melatonin-rich goji berries. Since melatonin is a known sleep aid, its presence in goji berries may be one of the reasons some people trust it as a solution for their sleep problems.

Bring goji berries into your kitchen

What's the best way to incorporate goji berries into your diet? Like any new-to-you food, look for ways to include them in dishes you already eat.

For instance, since goji berries are easily available in dried form, try swapping them for other dried fruits that aren't as rich in melatonin, such as dried cranberries. For instance, you could always drop a handful of dried goji berries into yogurt or on a healthy salad. Alternatively, you could bake some homemade goji berry and oatmeal cookies to enjoy before hitting the sack.

Just show a bit of caution with your intake initially because goji berries can cause unwanted side effects in some people. Case in point, if you're taking diabetes medicines, blood thinners, or medications to keep your blood pressure in check, WebMD suggests avoiding goji berries until you speak with a doctor. And a Healthline piece advises that allergic reactions to goji berries have been reported. However, by and large, most people seem to tolerate goji berries as a food source.

While goji berries aren't necessarily going to take away all your sleep interruptions or problems, they could be a part of your sleep health solution. Feel free to take them for a taste-test drive — and be sure to track your sleep responses to see if bringing goji berries into your diet makes a difference in the quality of your sleep.