It’s believed that pumpkin seeds were eaten by humans as early as 7000 BC. However it’s not the history of this seed that makes it so interesting, but rather the fact that eating pumpkin seeds before bed can directly help you sleep and boost your immune system! We explain how, next.
pumpkin seeds before bed: The surprising sleep aid
They’re not only tasty, as pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients, many of which can effect sleep duration and quality.
That’s because pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Interestingly, supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin 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. Therefore eating a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Tryptophan also helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce that all-important sleep hormone – melatonin!
It doesn’t end there either. An ounce of pumpkin seeds contains around 20% of your recommended daily intake 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.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc, a mineral that has been shown to help regulate sleep, and subsequently reduce the number of wake ups during the night.
Now here’s the big reveal. A study in Italy gave people suffering insomnia supplements of melatonin, magnesium and zinc and the conclusion was that this combination improved ‘the quality of sleep and the quality of life’ of the participants. That’s a combination you can get naturally by just eating pumpkin seeds.
Eating pumpkin seeds before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps the body produce the important sleep hormone melatonin – as well as magnesium and zinc. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep quality.
Pumpkin seeds before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable seed is also an anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, is full of fiber, and contains omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. All are crucial to keeping your health in check.
The anti-inflammatory nature of pumpkin seeds has been studied before, and is important to note as 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 pumpkin seeds or kiwi – is a no-brainer.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of antioxidants – such as Vitamin E, which can protect cells from damage. 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 (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 pumpkin seeds or garlic – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. Studies have shown pumpkin seeds to have anti-cancer properties, another study – albeit on rats – showed consumption of pumpkin seeds alongside flax seeds were anti-diabetic, whilst consumption of seeds is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown pumpkin seeds to have a positive effect on health, protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Pumpkin seeds for sleep: Incorporating them into your diet
Pumpkin seeds are tasty, relatively cheap and can be found around the world. They can also be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many other ways to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet too. You can roast them, use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, bake them into deserts, or even use them in pumpkin soup. You can also chop them up and add them into a stir fry, noodles or pasta to add some ‘crunch’ to your meal.
For sleep benefits, a small handful one or two hours before bedtime will suffice.
Pumpkin seeds before bed: What about side effects?
If you don’t have a pumpkin seed allergy then moderate consumption of pumpkin seeds shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, the side effects of eating pumpkin seeds in excess could be stomach issues such as gas or bloating, and even 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.