They’re probably one of the world’s favourite snacks, but peanuts have a surprising number of benefits other than their ease to munch on. In fact eating peanuts before bed could help you fall asleep, and that’s directly down to the nutrients contained within them. Here, we’ll explain why.
Peanuts before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Peanuts – which are actually legumes rather than a nut – have been eaten by humans for nearly 8000 years, and continue to be immensely popular to this day with nearly 50 million tonnes produced per year!
They’re packed with nutrients too, many of which can effect sleep duration and quality.
Peanuts are 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.
Tryptophan therefore helps the body to produce 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. Therefore eating a handful of peanuts before bed could be a great way to top up your melatonin levels at the right time.
Peanuts are also a rich source of folate – 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 peanuts could directly help sleep quality.
However there are a couple of caveats. Peanuts are high in fat and therefore calories, and so eating too many before bed over a prolonged period may result in weight gain. Some individuals are also severely allergic to peanuts, so take care if introducing peanuts into your diet for the first time.
Eating peanuts before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin – and nutrients like folate. All of which have been shown to have an effect on sleep quality.
Peanuts before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
There are many other health benefits to eating peanuts in moderation. Especially if you eat them in a non-processed form, such as raw (and unsalted), or boiled.
Peanuts are loaded with biotin – Vitamin B7 – and thiamine – Vitamin B1. Both are important to your body’s health. In fact biotin is often taken in supplement form to stop and reverse hair loss, although studies have shown the efficacy of biotin is limited in regards to this.
More promising, however, is the fact peanuts contain oleic acid – an omega-9 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation. One study concluded that a ‘diet high in oleic acid, which can be easily achieved through consumption of peanuts’ could even have a beneficial effect on inflammation caused by Type 2 diabetes.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, eating peanuts before bed can therefore play a role in boosting your immune system. 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 peanuts or Kiwi – is a no-brainer.
Peanuts also have an antioxidant capacity, due to their Vitamin E content, as well as other nutrients. 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 peanuts or garlic – should be a priority.
Thanks to such health benefits, a study at Harvard University concluded that a diet including peanuts could help protect against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline – and possibly even diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Peanuts have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, numerous studies have shown peanuts to have a positive effect on health and the potential ability to protect against several diseases.
Peanuts for sleep: Incorporating them into your diet
Widely available around the world, peanuts are easy to incorporate into your diet. However you should avoid peanuts that have been heavily salted or processed. Rather for the full health benefits of peanuts it’s much better to buy them in their raw form.
Adding peanuts to a salad can be a tasty way to incorporate them in a healthy meal, or roasting them alongside vegetables like sweet potato and beetroot. A peanut sauce to go with chicken skewers (satay chicken) is bound to go down well, or you could have a go at making a peanut soup. Peanut butter is also a potential option, but oil, sugar and sometimes even honey are added to store bought peanut butters, so eat in moderation.
Our preferred method is to boil peanuts in water using a pressure cooker. It’s simple but the cooking process really releases the flavour. The result is a tasty healthy snack, which can be eaten easily in the evening.
Peanuts before bed: Any side effects?
If you don’t have a peanut allergy then moderate consumption of peanuts shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, it is worth mentioning that peanuts are high in fat and calories, and so eating them in excess could lead to unwanted weight gain. If you eat too many peanuts you could also end up bloated, gassy, and with some abdomen pain.
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.