Almonds have hit the big-time in recent years. They’ve been hailed as a health food, and almond milk can be found in shops around the world. But did you know almonds can help you sleep? Here we explain how a food that originated from Iran – but is now widely available around the world – can deliver powerful benefits if you eat them before bed.
Almonds for sleep: The benefits of eating almonds before bed
Cultivated for more than 5000 years, Almonds have been lauded for their health benefits. And no wonder. This seed – that’s right, it is technically a seed rather than a nut – is packed full of nutrients that can help boost our immune system.
The nutrients in almonds can also have an effect on sleep quality too. That’s because almonds are a source of melatonin – a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Individuals who are struggling to sleep, or have been diagnosed with insomnia, are often prescribed melatonin. However this hormone – which the body produces naturally – can also be found in almonds. Therefore eating a handful of almonds before bed could be a great way to top up your melatonin levels at the right time.
Almonds are also a source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease time it takes to fall asleep. That’s because tryptophan helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin also has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce melatonin.
The science has been backed up too. A study of over 400 students with insomnia showed that just ten almonds a day for two weeks had an impact.
It doesn’t end there either. An ounce of almonds contains a whopping 20% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. Why’s that important? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia such as sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset.
An ounce of almonds will also provide 7% of the recommended daily amount of folate – also known as Vitamin B9. This essential vitamin tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating almonds could directly help sleep quality.
Eating almonds before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of melatonin, tryptophan – which helps the body produce serotonin – and nutrients like folate and magnesium. All of which have been shown to have an effect on sleep quality.
Almonds before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable seed is also an anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, eating almonds before bed can play a role in boosting your immune system. That’s because many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like almonds or Kiwi – is a no-brainer.
In fact a research study looking at people with Type 2 diabetes came to the conclusion that eating almonds helped improve inflammation. Another study appeared to show some correlation between eating almonds and a decrease in the inflammation marker CRP.
Almonds are also rich in antioxidants – particularly Vitamin E. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules and antioxidants, which then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like almonds or garlic – should be a priority. Almond skins, in particular, have been discovered to be a very rich source of antioxidants.
Furthermore, a study looking at whether almonds could reduce oxidative stress in diabetes patients concluded that eating almonds did help. An American study also came to the conclusion that eating almonds daily could be a cost-effective way to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Almonds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, numerous studies have shown almonds to have a positive effect on health and the potential ability to improve some diseases.
Almonds for sleep: Incorporating them into your diet
They’re tasty, relatively cheap and can be found around the world. Almonds can also be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many other ways to incorporate almonds into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge or yoghurt, baked into deserts, or even cooked in curry. In fact the tasty colorful desert, macaroon, is usually made from ground almonds!
Almonds before bed: Any side effects?
Eating almonds in moderation is unlikely to cause any side effects, although in rare cases some people are allergic to them. However consuming almonds in excess may cause an upset stomach, bloating, constipation, and headaches.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.