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Do pistachios help you sleep?
Everyone knows that a big glass of milk before bed helps you sleep. But what about pistachios?
These small nuts are packed with nutrients, including protein and various minerals. A recent study suggests that eating pistachios before bed may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Pistachios have been used as medicine for centuries. But why would eating pistachios help you sleep?
The answer lies in the brain.
Humans have two types of neurons: excitatory and inhibitory neurons. When we’re awake, the flow of electrical signals between these two types of neurons is high. This is because there’s an abundance of stimuli in our surroundings, like streetlights, cars passing by, and people walking by us at night. As a result, we need to be vigilant about any potential dangers and react accordingly.
When we’re tired or sleepy, the flow of electrical signals between these two types of neurons slows down or even becomes unresponsive. This makes it difficult for us to process anything that our brain receives from its external environment (for example lights from streetlights or noise from traffic).
When we sleep, our brains are working hard to process the day's events and consolidate our memories. In order to do this, the brain needs to maintain a background flow of signals between our excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Excitatory neurons are responsible for sending signals that tell our body to do something. Inhibitory neurons are responsible for sending signals that tell our body to stop doing something.
When the flow of stimulus between these two types of neurons is balanced, our body functions properly.
However, when the flow is unbalanced, it can lead to problems like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. One role of melatonin is to help to keep the flow of stimulus between these two types of neurons in balance. This is one of the reasons why it is effective in treating insomnia. It can also help to reduce anxiety and depression.
That’s where eating pistachios before bed and the role of melatonin comes into play.
Research shows that their high concentration of tryptophan—a type of amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin and melatonin. Pistachios can cause a surge in tryptophan levels in our brains when consumed just before bedtime.
Tryptophan has been found to enhance the production and release of serotonin —a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our emotional response to stress, sleep patterns, appetite, mood, and more. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle. Thus the high concentration of tryptophan in pistachio nuts may help people who have sleep disorders or difficulty sleeping.
In fact, researchers have found that people who consume large amounts of tryptophan prior to going to sleep tend to experience better-quality sleep than those who don’t.
Pistachio nuts are also a great source of magnesium, with more beneficial effects. Magnesium is an essential mineral for healthy bones and muscles. Magnesium helps your body relax and promotes restful sleep. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate.
The magnesium content of pistachios is about 40% higher than that of almonds or cashews. Pistachios have been shown to improve the quality of sleep in people with insomnia.
When should you eat pistachios before bed?
Typically, our levels of melatonin start to rise in the mid-to-late evening, after the sun has set, and are at their lowest levels between 8 am and 9 am each day.
Melatonin levels typically peak in the middle of the night, between the hours of 2 am and 4 am. This is when our bodies are naturally programmed to sleep the deepest and most restfully.
It's most effective to boost melatonin production when it is on the rise after about 6 pm each evening.
The best way to enjoy them is to eat them raw or lightly roasted a few hours before bedtime.
How many pistachios help you sleep?
To ensure that you get the most benefit from eating pistachios before bed, you should eat about half a cup of these nuts. This means you should consume about 2 ounces of pistachios before bed - about 20 to 30 nuts.
Want to really maximise your sleep?
Try getting your recommended amount of tryptophan by eating walnuts or almonds as well! They provide more tryptophan per ounce than pistachios do. However pistachios have a higher ratio of essential amino acids relative to their protein content, compared with most other nuts.
Eating pistachios at night?
When consuming pistachios, the tryptophan binds to the receptors of our brains. This causes serotonin to be released in an increased amount. The serotonin then binds to the neurons that are responsible for making us sleepy and causing sleepiness.
So, what’s the verdict? The answer is yes, they do help us sleep better.
In short, eating pistachios may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than if you don’t eat them before bedtime.
It's most effective to eat pistachios between 6 pm and 9pm each evening to boost melatonin levels. It takes some time for them to be digested, for the blood to carry tryptophan to the pineal gland, and for extra melatonin to be produced.
But remember—any food can affect how long you sleep at night! If you’re not a fan of pistachios or any other nut for that matter, try eating some cottage cheese before bed instead. It contains 2 percent of your recommended daily protein intake and is easy on your stomach.
However, despite their popularity, melatonin supplements are not recommended, except rarely in exceptional circumstances such as when travelling overseas. There is more and more evidence emerging that over-the-counter melatonin supplementation has long-term adverse effects.
When it comes to the hormone melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, a lot of people seem to be unaware of its role. However, this hormone is crucial for regulating your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
It’s often thought that melatonin is released when we’re asleep. But it’s actually released in small amounts throughout the day and night.
Melatonin plays an important role in regulating neurotransmitter release in our brains. Specifically, it helps regulate serotonin levels in the brain.
Since serotonin helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, consuming foods rich in tryptophan like pistachios can help you get a better night’s rest!
Pistachios are also loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium—both nutrients that are beneficial for our overall health and mental well-being.
When melatonin levels are running low, then the brain is less aware of when is the right time to sleep
Melatonin levels change throughout the day, but they typically rise in the evening and stay elevated overnight, before lowering in the morning, as noted above.
And it’s not just the nuts that are good for our sleep; it’s also the oil in them. Pistachio oil helps to relax the muscles and ease tension which can lead to a better night’s sleep.
What other metabolic benefits does melatonin have?
Pistachio nuts are also a great source of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for healthy bones and muscles. Magnesium helps our body relax and promotes restful sleep. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. (other foods high in magnesium include almonds, bananas, brown rice, broccoli, cashews, kale, spinach, and yogurt).
The only problem is that melatonin is not available in large doses via the diet. For this reason, supplementation with melatonin-rich food such as pineapples and almonds makes great sense.
So what are you waiting for? Go grab your favourite melatonin-rich food, chow down, and go to bed!
How much less melatonin do we have when we age?
One of the most important nutrients for sleep is tryptophan. It plays an important role in brain chemicals called melatonin and tryptamine, which are both involved in sleep regulation.
Tryptophan is found at high levels in animal proteins and plant seeds.
Melatonin, a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle, is produced in the brain. It’s converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, sleep and pain sensation.
As we age, our bodies produce less serotonin and melatonin. This can lead to disrupted sleep cycles and decreased overall well-being.
Pistachios are an excellent source of tryptophan and protein, which both have positive effects on sleep quality. One study found that participants who consumed a meal with pistachios before bed reported better sleep quality, which is also due to the magnesium they contain.
Can pistachios help with weight loss?
There are many metabolic benefits of melatonin, but what I find most fascinating is the power of this sleep-promoting hormone to promote fat loss. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and facilitates the process of cellular regeneration.
You may have also heard that pistachios have beneficial effects for weight loss. One reason for this is that they contain Phytosterol, which can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the body. In addition, they are also high in protein and fibre, which can help to keep you fuller for longer.
Pistachio nuts also contain melatonin, which inhibits fat production and accelerates the breakdown of triglycerides in both the liver and adipose tissue. Combine all these facts, and you have a potent weapon for fat loss!
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