Garlic has been used for thousands of years, but not just for culinary purposes. While touted as a ‘superfood’ in the 21st century, ancient Greek Olympians were way ahead of us – they used it to enhance health and performance 3000 years ago!
They were on to something too. Garlic is anti-inflammatory, has anti-oxidant effects, and even has the ability to help you fall and stay asleep. How? We explain all here.
Eating a clove of garlic before bed: A herb that heals the body and helps you sleep
It’s rare to hear anyone say no to garlic. After all, it’s a herb that seems to go well with everything. Slap it on bread, stick some in soup, or use it in a sauce – it’s as versatile as it is tasty. That versatility stretches to bedtime as well.
That’s because garlic is packed with zinc, which is a nutrient that has been shown to help restore sleep quality. In a study done on ICU nurses with poor sleep, zinc was shown to directly help sleep quality and sleep latency – i.e. the time it takes to fall asleep. This nutrient appears to be involved in the regulation of sleep too, and therefore getting enough of it is important for sleep quality, latency and duration.
Garlic also has potassium which is another nutrient that has been observed to have an effect on sleep. In a study undertaken with men who were on a low-potassium diet, researchers found that boosting their potassium levels showed results that appeared to indicate an improvement in ‘sleep consolidation’. What that means, is that potassium could help keep you asleep throughout the night and stop you from frequently waking up.
Garlic has zinc and potassium, two nutrients that are known to have an effect on sleep quality, latency, and duration. Subsequently garlic can be used as a natural sleep aid for those who have trouble sleeping.
However the benefits of eating a garlic clove before bed stretches past a good night’s sleep.
When this superfood is crushed or cut, a chemical compound called allicin is released. This compound is anti-inflammatory, and due to that, it’s been shown in studies to have an immune-boosting effect.
As many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like garlic – is a no-brainer.
Garlic is also an anti-oxidant. That’s important as anti-oxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
This anti-oxidant effect is also believed to be the reason why garlic has also been shown to reduce dementia risk, and why it appears to reduce the risk of brain cell damage involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only that, but the compound allicin has been shown in animal studies to have relaxant qualities to it. Therefore the pain relief garlic can provide due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, coupled with this relaxant nature, can help promote an ability to fall asleep quicker, and help with the management of inflammation in the body.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities. Because of that, numerous studies have shown garlic to have a positive effect on health, and even to possess anti-cancer properties.
garlic: incorporating it into your diet
If you’re not keen on eating a garlic clove before bed, but you want the health benefits of garlic, then there’s other ways to incorporate it into your diet.
In order to ensure garlic’s full sleep benefits – along with the other health benefits – we recommend eating it with your last meal of the day. Adding a little crushed garlic as seasoning to your evening meal, or as part of garlic butter (best in moderation due to the high fat content), will provide a tasty and easy way to reap the powerful benefits of garlic.
Eating a clove of Garlic before bed: Any side effects?
Garlic has been enjoyed for thousands of years, and usually causes no issues. However excessive consumption could lead to side effects such as bloating, diarrhoea, stomach issues, bad breath, nausea, heartburn, and vomiting.
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.