Eat Walnuts before bed for better Sleep

A handful of walnuts before bed can help you sleep better at night. Walnuts are packed with nutrients that improve sleep, such as melatonin, serotonin, folate, omega-3s, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, and many more!

Walnuts as a night snack promote a good night’s Sleep

A great time to eat walnuts is before bed as a late-night snack. Walnuts contain compounds that help us sleep better at night.

Most noteworthy, walnuts are excellent dietary sources of melatonin, which is known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin regulates sleep! Walnuts have about 0.35 mcg of melatonin per 100g. Walnut consumption can increase blood melatonin concentrations.[1]

Moreover, walnuts may contribute to improved sleep because they’re high in serotonin and polyphenols.[2]

In addition, walnuts are among the richest foods in folate. High amounts of folate may help people with sleep disorders. Folate may even relieve the symptoms of sleep deprivation.[3]

Also, walnuts are among the richest foods in omega-3s. A handful of walnuts provides approximately 2.78 grams of omega-3s, which is a higher dose than the recommended daily intake! Omega-3s may improve sleep duration and protect against chronic sleep-deprivation side effects.[4,5]

Furthermore, walnuts have a very low glycemic index of 15. They contain negligible amounts of sugar. Better avoid consuming foods high in sugar or starch close to bedtime. Sugar-rich foods as a late-night snack may affect sleep quality.[6]

Moreover, walnuts are high in fiber. Diets with adequate amounts of fiber could play a key role in the management of sleep disorders. Following a healthy, fiber-rich diet, containing many servings of fruits and vegetables per day, can improve sleep quality.[7,8]

Minerals in walnuts may improve Sleep Quality

Walnuts are great dietary sources of:

  • calcium with 98 mg per 100g, or 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • iron 2.9 mg, 16% DV
  • magnesium 158 mg, 38% DV
  • phosphorus 441 mg, 49% DV
  • zinc 3.1 mg, 28% DV
  • copper 1.6 mg, 178% DV
  • manganese 3.4 mg, 148% DV
  • potassium 523 mg, 15% DV

Adequate amounts of:

  • iron may have a beneficial effect on restless legs syndrome, general sleep disturbances, and sleep-disordered breathing. Iron deficiency is associated with sleep disorders.[9]
  • zinc also has beneficial effects on sleep quality. Treating zinc deficiency may increase the amount and the quality of sleep in humans. Zinc regulates sleep![10,11]
  • copper is also necessary for a good night’s sleep. Copper is another essential micronutrient involved in numerous metabolic reactions. The zinc/copper ratio, in particular, plays a key role in sleep duration in adults. So, you should be cautious before getting high amounts of zinc or copper from supplements.[12,13]
  • phosphorous may also have a beneficial effect on sleep duration, sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness.[14]
  • magnesium may improve sleep quality as well. It may improve sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, snoring, sleep duration, and daytime falling asleep. Especially in elderly people.[15,16]
  • potassium may also improve sleep quality.[17,18]
  • calcium may decrease the difficulty of falling asleep. Along with potassium and magnesium, calcium is important for improved sleep.[19]

Other common foods for a good night’s Sleep

Above all, you can eat foods high in melatonin, such as cranberries, pistachios, almonds, or apples, as a late-night snack. Melatonin plays a key role in improving sleep quality, sleep duration, and sleep onset latency.

Moreover, you should regularly eat beans, such as lentils and chickpeas, or drink soy milk for a good night’s sleep. Beans are high in tryptophan, melatonin, and minerals which relax muscles and improve sleep quality and duration!

Avocado is an excellent late-night snack as well. It’s packed with compounds that improve sleep quality and duration.

Snack ideas

Here are some delicious and sleep-promoting snack ideas for dinner:

Walnut and Cranberry Lentil Salad: Mix cooked lentils with chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, and a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Spiced Walnut and Apple Yogurt Bowl: Combine Greek yogurt with sliced apple, chopped walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a drizzle of honey for a satisfying snack.

Savory Walnut and Avocado Toast: Mash avocado on whole-wheat toast, top with crumbled walnuts, a sprinkle of lemon juice, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a light and flavorful option.

Trail Mix with a Twist: Make your own trail mix with walnuts, pistachios, almonds, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips for a satisfying and sleep-supportive mix.

Walnut and Turkey Lettuce Wraps: Ground turkey sautéed with your favorite spices, wrapped in lettuce leaves with chopped walnuts and a drizzle of low-fat yogurt dressing.

Walnuts for SleepPin

Walnut and Avocado Salad with Grilled Chicken: A well-rounded meal with protein, healthy fats, and sleep-supportive elements. Combine mixed greens, grilled chicken slices, chopped avocado, walnuts, and a light vinaigrette dressing.

Walnut and Cranberry Quinoa Bowl: Cooked quinoa tossed with chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Walnuts and Honey: Layer Greek yogurt with sliced apple or berries, chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of honey for a layered and delicious snack.

Avocado, Walnut, and Turkey Sandwich on Whole-Wheat Bread: A protein-rich and satisfying option. Layer mashed avocado, sliced turkey breast, chopped walnuts, and lettuce on whole-wheat bread.

Chocolate-Covered Walnuts (in Moderation): Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) melted and drizzled over walnuts for a sweet treat with sleep-supportive dark chocolate and healthy fats from walnuts.

Spiced Apple and Walnut Oatmeal: A warm and comforting snack before bed. Cook oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, top with chopped apple slices and walnuts.

Walnut and Avocado Pasta Salad: Whole-wheat pasta tossed with a light vinaigrette dressing, chopped walnuts, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.

Walnut and Cranberry Smoothie: Blend together Greek yogurt, soy milk, a handful of walnuts, frozen cranberries, and a touch of honey for a refreshing and sleep-supportive drink.

Can Walnuts at night make you Gain Weight?

You should be very cautious with portion sizes, though. Walnuts are high in calories. Consuming more than 2 handfuls before bed can make you fat. On the other hand, a serving a day is good for weight loss.

How long before Bedtime can I eat Walnuts?

Try to have dinner at least 1–2 hours before bedtime. This allows enough time for digestion so you don’t feel uncomfortable while trying to sleep. Walnuts are a healthy fat and protein source, and digestion can take longer for these compared to simpler carbs.

If you have a sensitive stomach, consider waiting even longer (2-3 hours) to avoid any potential discomfort that might disrupt sleep.

Experiment and see what works best for you. What works for one person might not work for another. Some people might find a small walnut snack right before bed doesn’t cause digestive issues, while others might need a longer window.

Opt for lighter and easier-to-digest snacks closer to sleep.

Are Walnuts the best nut for improved sleep?

Walnuts are a strong contender for a sleep-supportive nut, but they might not be the absolute best. They contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, and healthy fats that promote satiety, potentially reducing nighttime hunger pangs that could disrupt sleep.

However, other nuts offer similar benefits:

  • Almonds are a good source of magnesium, another mineral linked to better sleep.
  • Cashews are a source of tryptophan, which the body converts to melatonin.
  • Pistachios might also contribute due to their B6 content, which plays a role in melatonin production.

Ultimately, the “best” nut for sleep depends on your individual needs and preferences.

Walnuts are a great choice, but consider incorporating a variety of nuts into your diet for a broader range of sleep-promoting nutrients. Experiment and see what works best for you!

When can Walnuts disrupt Sleep?

While walnuts offer many health benefits, there are a few scenarios where they might disrupt your sleep:

Digestive Issues: Walnuts are a source of healthy fats and protein, which take longer to digest than carbs. Eating them too close to bedtime (within 1-2 hours) could cause indigestion or discomfort, interrupting your sleep. If you have a sensitive stomach, this effect might be more pronounced.

Calorie Content: Walnuts are calorie-dense. While a small handful can be a sleep-supportive snack, overindulging can lead to feeling overly full or sluggish, making it difficult to fall asleep. Moderation is key!

Blood Sugar Spike: Some people with blood sugar sensitivities might experience a slight rise in blood sugar levels after consuming sweets or bakery products with walnut flour. This could potentially disrupt sleep patterns, especially for those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes.

Walnut Butter Considerations: While walnut butter offers similar benefits to walnuts, some commercially prepared options might contain added sugars or sweeteners. These can cause blood sugar spikes and disrupt sleep. Opt for natural walnut butters with minimal added ingredients.

Other eating habits that support a good night’s sleep

To achieve a restful night’s sleep, consider incorporating some smart dietary choices into your routine. Here’s how your diet can become your ally for better sleep:

Focus on Lighter Evenings: Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. Opt for easily digestible options like lean protein with roasted vegetables or a small bowl of whole-wheat pasta with a light sauce. This prevents your digestive system from working overtime while you’re trying to sleep.

Hydration is Key: Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, making sleep difficult. Aim to stay hydrated throughout the day, but avoid excessive fluids right before bed to prevent nighttime bathroom trips.

Embrace Sleep-Friendly Nutrients: Certain foods contain compounds that promote relaxation and sleep. Look for options rich in tryptophan, an amino acid converted into sleep-regulating melatonin. Examples include turkey, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and tart cherries.

Don’t Skip Meals Altogether: A rumbling stomach can disrupt sleep. Conversely, sugary snacks can cause a blood sugar spike and crash, interfering with sleep quality. Aim for a balanced dinner a few hours before bedtime to avoid both extremes.

Limit Sleep Disruptors: Be mindful of caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to sleep. Caffeine can block the effects of sleep-inducing chemicals, while alcohol might initially make you drowsy but disrupt sleep quality later in the night.

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