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Does beetroot increase sleep?

Getting adequate sleep is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This sleep deprivation can negatively impact focus, mood, immune function, and more. As a result, people are increasingly interested in natural remedies that can promote healthy sleep.

One food that has gained attention for its potential sleep-promoting effects is beetroot. Beetroot and its juice are rich in nitrates, which may help relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. This vascular effect could, in turn, improve sleep quality. However, the research on beetroot and sleep is limited.

How beetroot may improve sleep

The potential sleep-promoting effects of beetroot are thought to be due to its high nitrate content. When consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, which is a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels.

Widened blood vessels enhance circulation and oxygen delivery throughout the body and to the brain. Improved brain oxygenation could result in better sleep quality.

Additionally, widening blood vessels helps lower blood pressure. Hypertension can disrupt sleep, so beetroot’s vasodilating effects might improve sleep by reducing blood pressure.

The nitrates in beetroot may also benefit sleep by acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Oxidative stress and inflammation are linked to poor sleep quality.

Research on beetroot and sleep

While the theoretical basis for beetroot improving sleep is promising, direct research on the topic is limited. A few small studies have produced mixed results:

Study Participants Beetroot intervention Results on sleep
2018 double-blind trial 14 older adults with heart failure 500 mL beetroot juice/day for 7 days No improvement in sleep quality
2019 randomized controlled trial 19 young, healthy men 140 mL beetroot juice 2.5 hours before bed for 3 nights Increased slow wave sleep time
2020 randomized cross-over trial 30 healthy men 2 shots beetroot juice (~50 mL each) before bed Decreased wake after sleep onset
2020 randomized controlled trial 24 young, healthy adults 70 mL beetroot juice 2h before bed for 4 nights No improvement in sleep efficiency, quality, latency, or duration

As demonstrated, findings are mixed regarding beetroot juice and sleep. Two studies showed positive effects on sleep quality, one found no benefit, and one only found benefits for deep slow wave sleep.

Slow wave sleep is the most restorative sleep stage. By boosting slow wave sleep, beetroot juice may still improve overall sleep quality. However, more research is still needed.

Additional benefits of beetroot

While the impact of beetroot on sleep requires more research, beetroot provides many other health benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure: Many studies confirm beetroot juice can significantly reduce blood pressure, thanks to its nitrate content.
  • Improved exercise performance: By boosting nitric oxide levels and oxygen efficiency, beetroot enhances exercise endurance and performance.
  • Anti-inflammatory: The phytochemicals in beetroot demonstrate anti-inflammatory capabilities in research.
  • Antioxidant: Beets contain betalain pigments that exhibit antioxidant activity within the body.
  • Heart health: Beyond just blood pressure, beetroot improves several risk factors for heart disease like vascular function.
  • Detoxification: Compounds in beetroot juice may help stimulate detoxification enzymes in the liver.
  • Cognition: Some evidence indicates nitrate-rich beetroot juice can improve cognition, focus, and memory.
  • Nutrient profile: Beetroots provide fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and more.

Therefore, including beetroot in your diet is a good idea even if the effects on sleep need more validation.

Risks and side effects

Beetroot is likely safe for most people and generally well tolerated. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • May affect medication absorption – The nitrates in beetroot can affect absorption of certain medications. Consult your doctor before supplementing if on any prescription medicines.
  • Kidney stones – Because beetroot is high in oxalate, it could worsen kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
  • Sugar and calories – Raw beets have about 8 grams of sugar and 50 calories per cup. Opt for juiced beetroot to remove the sugar and maximize nutrient density.
  • Allergies – Some people may experience an allergic reaction to beets. Discontinue use if any food sensitivity symptoms develop.
  • Color change – Beetroot can temporarily turn urine and stool a pink/reddish color. This is harmless.
  • Blood thinning – Beetroot juice could have mild blood thinning effects, so use caution if taking anti-coagulant drugs.

Recommended beetroot intake for sleep

There is no established recommended daily intake of beetroot specifically for sleep. However, studies showing benefits for sleep quality used beetroot juice amounts between 140mL to 500mL, consumed about 2-3 hours before bedtime.

To experience beetroot’s general health benefits, aim for one cup (8 ounces/250mL) of beetroot juice or 1-2 whole beets 2-3 times per week.

Other foods and supplements for sleep

While the connection between beetroot and sleep needs more research, plenty of other natural remedies are proven to enhance sleep quality and duration:

Sleep-Promoting Food/Supplement Benefits
Tart cherry juice Increases melatonin, improves sleep efficiency
Valerian root Natural sedative that reduces sleep onset latency
Chamomile tea Relaxes muscles, lowers anxiety, aids sleep
Magnesium Lessens insomnia symptoms and improves sleep time
L-theanine Increases relaxation and alpha brain waves
Lavender essential oil Decreases anxiety and promotes slower brain waves

Along with these supplements, make sure your sleep environment is optimized by keeping your room completely dark, cool, and free of electronic devices. Developing a relaxing pre-bedtime routine is also important.

The bottom line

Research investigating beetroot juice and sleep is still preliminary but shows some potential benefits, especially for increasing time spent in slow wave sleep. Beetroot provides several other important health benefits as well from lowering blood pressure to reducing inflammation.

Beetroot juice is likely safe when consumed in moderation. Have 2-8 ounces about 2-3 hours before bedtime to determine if it can enhance your sleep quality without any side effects.

Keep in mind that beetroot juice cannot compensate for poor sleep habits. Make sure you have good sleep hygiene practices like limiting light and screen exposure at night and maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle.

Beetroot may turn out to be a helpful addition to your sleep-promoting toolkit when used in combination with overall healthy lifestyle and sleep habits. But more research is still needed on the effects of beetroot juice on sleep.