On every corner of the globe people use garlic. It’s possibly the world’s most popular herb, and has been used for thousands of years. However it has a surprising benefit – it could help you sleep.
That’s because garlic is made up of several compounds and nutrients that have a calming effect on your body. Which for many people with sleep issues, is exactly what they need to help improve sleep quality.
Garlic for sleep: The herb packed with ‘sleep’ nutrients
It’s rare to hear anyone say no to garlic. After all, it’s a herb that seems to go well with so many meals. 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 likely 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. Which is a great reason to make sure you have garlic before bed.
Lastly, when this superfood is crushed or cut, a chemical compound called allicin is released. This compound is especially interesting as not only is it anti-inflammatory, but it’s also been shown in animal studies to have relaxant qualities to it. Therefore the pain relief allicin can provide due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, coupled with its relaxant nature, can help promote an ability to fall asleep quicker.
Garlic has zinc and potassium, two nutrients that are known to have an effect on sleep quality, latency, and duration. It also has a compound called allicin that is a natural relaxant. These combined make garlic a natural sleep aid for individuals who have trouble sleeping.
Garlic before bed: incorporating it into your diet
Thankfully garlic is not only cheap and widely accessible, but this versatile herb is also easy to incorporate into your diet.
For garlic’s full sleep 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 before bed.
Some people have been known to put a clove of garlic under their pillow, or even eat a full clove of garlic before bed.
Other benefits of taking garlic for sleep
- The compound allicin has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of some forms of human cancer cells, giving garlic anti-cancer properties.
- Allicin has also been shown in animal studies to have the potential to treat diabetic hypertension.
- One study has shown that garlic was able to help de-toxify individuals who had lead poisoning.
- It’s been shown that garlic has an overall anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect.
- Long term use of garlic could lead to reduced risk of certain types of cancers.
- Garlic has been shown to reduce dementia risk.
- Garlic has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease.
- Garlic’s anti-oxidant effect appears to reduce the risk of brain cell damage involved in Alzheimer’s.
Garlic for sleep: 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.