It’s typically eaten at breakfast as muesli or porridge, but eating oatmeal before bed can actually help you sleep and give you a number of health benefits as well. We explain how, next.
Eating oatmeal before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Although eaten for centuries, it’s only recently that we’ve discovered that eating oatmeal before bed may actually benefit sleep.
That’s because eating oatmeal before bed can directly help you sleep due to the presence of melatonin in oatmeal. This hormone regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin.
The fact oatmeal is a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin means this remarkable food could act as a sleep aid for individuals suffering with insomnia.
Oatmeal is also a good 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 the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce that all important sleep hormone – melatonin! Therefore eating oatmeal before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
It doesn’t end there either. Oatmeal is a great source of magnesium. Why’s that notable? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
Eating oatmeal before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of melatonin, tryptophan and magnesium. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep.
Eating oatmeal: What are the HEALTH benefits?
Oatmeal (when it’s the whole grain) is packed full of fiber, which is important as fiber has an anti-inflammatory role to play in the body – particularly in the gut – and is great for digestion.
A high fiber diet has been linked to lower body weight, as well as ‘alleviating obesity-induced chronic inflammation’, so including oatmeal in your diet is a positive move.
Indeed, 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 oatmeal or walnuts – is a no-brainer.
Whole oats are also packed with antioxidants.
That’s important as antioxidant foods 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 (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance 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 oatmeal or grapes – should be a priority.
On top of that there’s evidence that eating oats can help individuals lose weight as oatmeal is very filling. Therefore eating oatmeal before bed could stop snacking, keep you full throughout the night, and possibly help with weight loss goals.
Oatmeal is rich in fiber and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown oatmeal to have a positive effect on health, potentially protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Oatmeal for sleep and overall health: Incorporating it into your diet
Oatmeal can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. This fiber rich superfood is cheap and can be easily incorporated with other foods to make a tasty meal.
There are many different ways to incorporate oatmeal into your diet. The easiest is to make porridge and add something like cinnamon. If you put some chia seeds and flax seeds in as well, you will have an incredibly healthy and nutritious morning or evening snack.
Eating oatmeal before bed: What about side effects?
If you don’t have an oatmeal allergy then moderate consumption of oatmeal shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating oatmeal in excess could lead to side effects like bloating, gas, and constipation.
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.