Need Better Sleep? Try Eating Pistachios Before Bed!

Written by Professor Anna Gray, Updated on May 6th, 2024
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In modern times, many Americans have issues with getting to sleep and maintaining a deep sleep throughout the night. There are several reasons behind this worsening trend.

These include too much light just before bedtime, blue light in the bedroom from gadgets, increased stress levels, hormone imbalance, too much caffeine, etc. Some people combat this by adding melatonin supplements to their bedtime routine, in addition to removing some of the stressors in their life and improving their lifestyles.

Get Your Melatonin from Natural Foods

Melatonin is an important hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies. It tells our body that it is time to sleep.

However, things such as light and increased stress (increased cortisol levels) suppress the body’s natural production of melatonin. If you do not want to take synthetic melatonin supplements or pills, consider getting your melatonin from natural food items. The best source is pistachios!

The great thing about getting melatonin from food items is that they promote better sleep without causing grogginess in the morning (sleeping pills are horrible with this side effect).

Other food items include grains and mushrooms.

What Does Melatonin Do in the Body?

Usually, melatonin is produced in response to darkness. This is why being in bright lights around bedtime, and especially blue light from the television or phone screen, is so detrimental to your sleep patterns. Without darkness, your body won’t produce the necessary melatonin. Melatonin typically peaks around 2 a.m.

Foods that contain melatonin can significantly increase the amount of the sleep-promoting hormone in your body. Therefore, eating something like pistachios before bedtime can help your body realize, hey, it’s time for bed soon!

In fact, just one ounce of pistachios has about 6 mg of melatonin. This is similar to what is found in the average melatonin supplement.

In addition to getting you to sleep promptly, melatonin also maintains healthy eyes, calms stomach ulcers, and heartburn, and lessens tinnitus symptoms. It’s not just about healthy sleep!

Eat Pistachios Before Bedtime to Get Better Sleep

If you’d instead not consume pills before bedtime or lower the number of vitamins and pills you take throughout the day, consider getting your melatonin naturally from healthy foods. If you eat 3.5 ounces, or 100 grams, of shelled pistachios, you will get about 23 mg of melatonin.

To visualize this, 1 cup holds about 4.5 ounces, or 128 grams, of shelled pistachios. Interestingly, a melatonin supplement usually contains just 0.2 to 10 mg per dose!

It is considered safe for adults to consume 0.2 to 5 mg of melatonin an hour before bedtime when in synthetic supplement form.

Taking more than 30 mg of supplemented melatonin could be harmful, but more research is needed.

You do not need to worry if you eat 3.5 ounces of pistachios and consume 23 mg of melatonin from pistachios.

Your body can handle the amount of melatonin being released during digestion because it is released much slower than when taken as a concentrated pill. Your body knows what to do with real food – a pill is something less natural and less compatible with the body.

Food Sources of Melatonin

The food sources with the most melatonin include:

  • Pistachios: 230,000 nanograms (ng) of melatonin per gram (g) of pistachios
  • Mushrooms: 4,300-6,400 ng per g
  • Oats: 91 ng per g
  • Cherries: 10-20 ng per g
  • Tomatoes: 1-67 ng per g
  • Cow’s Milk: 0.014 ng per milliliter (Cow’s milk also contains tryptophan which your body can convert to melatonin.)

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