Can Walnuts Help You Fall Asleep?

If most of the time you feel like you're running on fumes, you're not alone. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that over 1 in 3 people in the U.S. aren't getting sufficient sleep (via American Academy of Sleep Medicine). Journaling, meditating, and reading are just a few of the many soothing bedtime rituals that can help us unwind as we settle in for the night, but there are some more unconventional methods out there too. For example, is it possible that eating walnuts may help us drift off to dreamland?

Packed with antioxidants, omega-3s, fiber, and more, walnuts are purported to support gut health, reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure, promote cognitive health, and may even protect against the development of certain cancers, reports Healthline. What's more, melatonin can be found within walnuts. Otherwise known as the "sleep hormone," melatonin is produced by the brain in sync with the changing light and darkness of a 24-hour cycle to help regulate sleep, explains the Sleep Foundation. In fact, it's often used as a popular supplement to help promote relaxation before bed. But is the amount of melatonin contained in walnuts enough to make us sufficiently tired?

Walnuts and sleep quality

According to a 2012 scientific review published in Food and Nutrition Research, walnuts have been found to harbor marked amounts of melatonin. Within the review, findings from a 2005 animal study published in Nutrition were cited demonstrating that melatonin levels in the blood of lab rats increased after eating walnuts. Nutrition and wellness expert Samantha Cassetty tells Well + Good that it's not just the melatonin contained within walnuts that has been linked with sleep health. "Walnuts contain numerous compounds that are tied to healthy sleep patterns," she tells the publication. "They're a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin, and both of these substances are involved in regulating your sleep."

While some experts believe that the melatonin found in walnuts may boost sleep quality, Healthline explains that there's not currently enough research to definitively deem a direct relationship between walnuts and improved sleep. However, the next time you're having trouble winding down come evening time, perhaps try cracking open a few walnuts as a pre-bedtime snack. For some people, in order to fall asleep, a little extra melatonin may be what does the trick.