If coffee before bed keeps you up at night, you might be looking for a good alternative to your evening drink.
We’ve all heard about the advantages of drinking green tea, but is it healthy as a pre-sleep beverage?
Although it’s health-promoting and has numerous benefits, it’s best not to drink green tea before bed.
Let’s find out why!
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is a particular type of tea that’s produced differently to other teas. All tea is made from the same plant. They just go through different processes to become the final product.
Oolong tea and black teas go through a process of withering and oxidation. This means as soon as the leaves are picked, they’re exposed to oxygen and begin to ferment.
Green teas are unoxidized, and their leaves are processed very little. They’re heated (by pan frying, steaming, roasting, or sun drying) to stop the fermenting process.
Because green tea is one of the least processed teas, it’s one of the most antioxidant-rich! In fact, it’s been used in both Chinese and Indian traditional medicine for centuries.
Types of Green Tea
There are two categories:
- Base teas.
- Blended teas.
Base teas are the purest forms of green tea, and can be drunk by themselves or used as a foundation for a blended tea.
Some common base teas include:
Blended teas are made up of a base tea and other elements to add flavor, color, and extra benefits. This is often done by heating the tea leaves with other leaves, flowers, or spices.
They include things like:
- Jasmine green tea
- Mint green tea
- Genmaicha (a mix of tea and ground rice
Can I Drink Green Tea Before Bed?
Sure you can! But the better question is, should you?
Let’s have a quick look at some pros and cons of drinking green tea before going to sleep.
- Because the body heals during sleep, the antioxidant benefits would be well-utilized during the night.
- It may have a positive effect on working memory, which is consolidated during sleep.
- It contains caffeine, which will keep you awake just like coffee does!
- L-theanine paired with caffeine increases alertness drastically.
- It’s a diuretic, so you’ll have to be up more often in the night.
Although it has some super advantages to your health, it’s not advised to drink green tea before bed.
The caffeine content paired with L-theanine is likely to increase alertness too much for you to get a restful sleep.
It’s also quite a diuretic, so if you do fall asleep quickly, you’ll likely be up fairly soon to run to the bathroom!
That being said, let’s check out some of the amazing health benefits green tea offers, when the best time is to drink it, and some great alternatives for your evening beverage.
Benefits of Green Tea
There’s no denying that this unique tea has some positive health effects that have been studied and documented.
If you do want to add this beneficial drink to your daily diet, here are some of the biggest advantages:
High in Antioxidants
Because the tea leaves are minimally processed, they retain high amounts of antioxidants. These serve some very specific purposes in the body:
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote healing
- Reduce the formation of free radicals
- Provide a vitamin and mineral boost
Improves Cognitive Function
The caffeine in green tea is great for helping us stay alert and awake! But there are other compounds found in it that perform some other cognitive-enhancing functions. Specifically, L-theanine.
L-theanine on its own has some benefits, but when paired with caffeine it can give a real energy and mood boost. This combo also provides a nice buzz that’s less potent than that of coffee.
The advantages of this combination include:
- Increased alertness.
- Improved mood.
- Increased dopamine production.
- Stimulated alpha brain waves.
Can Increase Fat Burning
The reason this kind of tea is known for fat burning properties is because it stimulates and improves metabolism.
May Reduce Bad Breath
Compounds in green tea called catechins are thought to inhibit the growth of bacteria. When ingested, these can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and all the way along the digestive tract.
Halitosis does not always start in the mouth, so this is an excellent side effect that most people don’t even realize about drinking this type of tea.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels have become a bigger problem in recent years. This is largely due to the sugar-saturated foods that have flooded the market.
Research has shown that regular consumption of green tea can help lower blood glucose levels and decrease the chance of developing diabetes and becoming obese.
Can Reduce Chances of Several Diseases
The antioxidant properties and other compounds in this tea can reduce the risks of certain diseases quite drastically.
Not only do the compounds in these teas reduce glucose levels, the reduced consumption of sugar (due to drinking less coffee) contributes to this as well.
- Cardiovascular disease
Green teas are also known for reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. This makes it helpful for reducing the chances of both heart attacks and strokes.
The high levels of antioxidants in each sip target cancer cells that need oxygen to grow. The disease is effectively “starved” by the antioxidants!
The cognitive-enhancing functions of this tea could prevent things like Alzheimers, dementia, and Parkinson’s. For patients already diagnosed, regular consumption as part of treatment could help prevent worsening of symptoms.
When Is The Best Time To Drink Green Tea?
Although the healthy properties are beneficial no matter what time of day you partake, if you want to maximize the benefits, you should drink it a couple of times a day, between meals.
- On an empty stomach first thing in the morning can cause cramps and digestive upset.
- With meals can inhibit the absorption of iron in the body.
- Before bed can ruin a good night’s sleep!
It can also be helpful to drink a cup an hour to 30 minutes before exercising, to maximize the fat burning properties.
Green Tea vs Coffee
You may be wondering what difference there really is between coffee and green tea, if both contain caffeine. Here are some quick facts:
- Green tea has approximately 35mg caffeine per 100 ml, while coffee has 96mg.
- Green tea also includes L-theanine, which increases alertness.
- Both are diuretics.
The biggest advantage of choosing green tea over coffee is the difference in the way you drink it.
Generally, tea is prepared with tea leaves and the possible addition of lemon or honey. Coffee is usually made with sugar and milk (both, or one or the other).
This means that a single cup of coffee will add anywhere from 30 to 120 calories to your daily diet. A mug of tea, however, is calorie-free on its own, and with a teaspoon of honey will set you back around 20 calories.
Black coffee with honey is likely to be on-par with green tea with honey or lemon. Once you add processed sweeteners and dairy, though, the health benefits put it far below the tea!
What To Drink Before Bed
If you’re at a loss for what to drink to lull you off to sleep, here are some ideas!
There are plenty of herbal teas out there that have wonderful health-promoting effects. Choosing one of them over green tea can help you have a good night’s rest, improve your health, and have you waking up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to face the world.
Some great options that relieve anxiety and have a calming effect are:
- Valerian Root
If you want a tea with impressive anti-inflammatory properties, try:
- Lemon & Honey
Warm milk is a creamy, soothing drink that can send you off to dreamland comfortably. Although nobody really knows why it’s so good as a pre-bed drink, it could be because it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is the compound that is responsible for us feeling sleepy after a big meal!
Milk alternatives are great too! Almond milk is one of the favorites (and it’s low-calorie too!). Other good choices are soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and rice milk. These are all dairy-free and vegan!
Yes, this is a bit of an unusual one! Cherries contain the same amino acid that milk does, in fairly significant doses. So if you prefer a cool drink before bed, cherry juice is the way to go!
If you’re used to drinking green tea before bed, you may be surprised at how much more benefit you get by drinking it during the day instead.
Choosing an alternative drink as your evening beverage could significantly improve your sleep quality.
Don’t stop drinking the green stuff, though - its health benefits are immense!