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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.
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. 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 and around 9pm is a good time to eat pistachios.
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.
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.
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.
Pistachios and melatonin
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 levels change throughout the day, but it typically rises in the evening and stays elevated overnight, before lowering in the morning. When melatonin levels are running low, then the brain is less aware of when is the right time to sleep.
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!
How long before bed should you eat pistachio nuts for better sleep?
You should eat about 20 to 30 nuts about 90 minutes before bed. Typically, our melatonin levels start to rise in the mid-to-late evening, after the sun has set (and are at their lowest levels between 8am and 9am each day). This is why it is most effective to boost melatonin production when it is on the rise after about 6 pm each evening. Eating them at around 9pm allows them to be digested before bed.
Are pistachios good for you?
Pistachios are rich in unsaturated fats, fibre and antioxidants. Research on their antioxidant properties dates back to 1942.
Research also suggests that pistachios could help to reduce hypertension and promote the development of beneficial gut microbes.
They are a good source of vegetable protein (about 21% of total weight), with an essential amino acid ratio higher than most other commonly consumed nuts (i.e., almonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts). And, pistachios are also loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium—both nutrients that are beneficial for our overall health and mental well-being.
How do the nutritional benefits of pistachio nuts compare to other nuts?
Pistachio nuts are a healthy snack option because they are packed with essential amino acids, fibre, healthy fats, and Vitamin B6. Compared to other nuts, pistachios contain the highest content of lysine, an essential amino acid, making them a great source of protein.
They are also a great source of dietary fibre, helping to promote healthy digestion. In addition, pistachios are a good source of healthy fats, like oleic acid, which helps to lower cholesterol levels. Finally, pistachios contain more Vitamin B6 than any other nut, helping to support energy production and a healthy nervous system.
More specifically, compared to other nuts, pistachios rank highest in protein, with 6g per serving. They also contain more fibre than other nuts, with 3g per serving. Pistachios are also a great source of healthy fats and Vitamin B6, with 13g of fat and 0.4mg of Vitamin B6 per serving.
All in all, pistachios are a great choice for anyone looking for a nut packed with essential nutrients.
How do pistachio nuts help better sleep?
Pistachio nuts are a great source of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for healthy bones and muscles.
Magnesium also 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.
For better sleep, include foods in your everyday diet that are rich in melatonin, such as: tart cherries, walnuts, goji berries, and oats.
Tart cherries are one of the most melatonin-rich foods, containing up to 13.5 micrograms per serving. Walnuts contain approximately 2.6 micrograms of melatonin per serving, making them another great source for adding melatonin to your diet. Goji berries contain up to 2 micrograms of melatonin per serving, and oats contain up to 0.5 micrograms per serving.
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 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!
Remember, aside from helping you sleep better pistachio nuts are a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They may help to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.
Regular consumption of pistachio nuts may also help to regulate blood sugar levels and provide energy.
Studies also suggest that consuming pistachio nuts may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and improve eye health.
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