Green tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, especially in Japan, China, and Asian countries in general. It has been proven over and over again that the health benefits of green tea are numerous. It can help the body fight off degenerative diseases, improve the immune system, help detoxification, and generally improve the quality of health.
Regular consumption of green tea is always recommended, especially if you’re looking for a healthy coffee alternative or some assistance in your weight loss journey.
But, sometimes people tend to drink green tea before bedtime. Whether that is a good idea or not is still debatable. So, in the following paragraphs, we’re going to take a look at why drinking green tea before bedtime might be good or bad for you, and what the alternatives are. So, let’s get started!
Green Tea Composition
Before we go any further, it is important to understand green tea and its composition to know when it is safe to drink it. Here’s a quick look at the chemical composition of green tea;
- Polyphenols – Green tea is rich in polyphenols; a compound responsible for the flavor and the color of the tea. This compound also includes other chemical compounds like catechins, which is a group of antioxidants responsible for the majority of the green tea health benefits and medicinal properties.
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant found in various tea varieties, and green tea is no exception. There are numerous health effects of caffeine in green tea; it contributes to weight loss, stimulates the body, improves concentrations and focus, promotes food digestion, etc. Green tea can contain anywhere between 25 to 30 mg of caffeine, which is important information to know if you want to drink this tea before bedtime.
- Amino acids – Amino acids in green tea come in the form of L-theanine; a compound responsible for the general green tea effects of relaxation, calmness, and stress reduction. L-theanine is also responsible for the improvement of brain function, as well as the prevention of caffeine withdrawal symptoms, like mood change, headache, etc.
Green Tea Before Bedtime – Advantages
‘Better’ Sleep Quality
It is believed that L-theanine, a compound in green tea, is responsible for the better sleep quality people experience after drinking green tea. L-theanine is an amino acid, as mentioned before, that reduces stress and anxiety levels, promotes calmness, and overall helps you relax, both physically and mentally.
Theanine in green tea actually helps relax neuron activity, like cortisol. Studies have shown that people who consume green tea before bedtime are more likely to have lower makers of stress in their metabolism, experience reduced morning fatigue, and generally have certain mood stability throughout the day. The studies also show that green tea components are extremely stress-reducing and provide a certain mental clarification, which is surely necessary for the modern, hectic day and age.
Note: the aforementioned study was conducted using green tea that is low in caffeine and high in L-theanine, hence the results!
Fat Burning And Weight Loss
There have been claims that green tea consumption before bedtime results in increased metabolic rate and fat burning. This could be essential information for anyone trying to lose weight. Green tea is known to improve your overall metabolism, but imagine if you could lose weight in your sleep.
Green tea apparently has thermogenic properties that promote fat burning, and also lower your appetite. Now, there isn’t enough research showing that this effect comes solely for green tea consumption in the period before going to sleep. But, it has been proven over the years that green tea is generally great assistance when it comes to weight loss.
Improved Immune System
Because green tea is rich in polyphenols and catechins, it is believed that its regular before-sleep consumption can actually improve your immune system. The compounds in green tea ensure it has anti-inflammatory properties, which alongside the immune system, help the body fight off diseases, like cardiovascular diseases or even cancer.
The reason it is believed green tea works the best over the night lies in the fact that during sleep your body focuses on the recovery of the body and heals any damage. That is the best time for compounds like polyphenols and catechins to provide additional assistance and help the body reach its full healing potential. However, these effects are yet to be thoroughly studied, especially when it comes to green tea consumption before bedtime and its effects on the body.
Green Tea Before Bedtime – Disadvantages
Green tea isn’t generally thought to be a bedtime drink, mostly because of its caffeine content. In one cup of green tea, there can be up to 30mg of caffeine.
Now, compared to a cup of coffee, which can have three times more caffeine, green tea doesn’t seem that much of a deal.
However, 30mg of caffeine is still enough to keep you awake for several hours, especially when consumed at night. This amount of caffeine is enough to trigger your adrenalin and hormones, which will make you more wakeful and halt sleep onset.
As a result, your body won’t produce melatonin, adenosine, and other things necessary for you to fall asleep.
So, a logical thing would be to avoid green tea before bedtime because your brain doesn’t need such an energy boost when it is about to induce sleep. Sure, caffeine in green tea won’t cause the jitters, but you can surely say goodbye to a good night’s sleep.
Alongside with the caffeine effect, drinking green tea before time is a bad idea for reasons like frequent sleep interruptions. Sure, you might fall asleep, but you are also more likely to keep waking up for reasons like frequent visits to the restroom (since you’ve been drinking liquids before bedtime) and overall adrenaline and hormone function disruption due to caffeine effects.
Nightime urine production is more likely to happen if you take fluids one to two hours before bedtime. The same effects take place after alcohol consumption, for example. Therefore, sleep interruptions are inevitable in such cases, even if you do manage to fall asleep after drinking green tea. Moreover, green tea can cause upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea as well, which can further contribute to sleep interruptions.
Drinking green tea before bedtime can disrupt your circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle. Most frequently, green tea consumption will result in sleeplessness, but in some cases, it can lead to serious sleep deprivation and even insomnia. No one can really pinpoint the reason for this, other than the caffeine content and caffeine intake late at night.
However, it seems that green tea ingredients are generally stimulating to the body, which can be seen in the increase of nervous system activity, brain wave activity, and the overall state of the body.
Studies have shown that even lactating mothers, who consumed green tea later in the day, have cause sleeplessness in their infants.
- Headaches – This may be less known information, but it is believed that green tea consumption before bedtime can cause mild to severe headaches. These headaches can lead to sleeplessness as well as other effects like nausea, vomiting, iron deficiency, tiredness, fatigue, etc.
- Acidity – Caffeine and other components found in green tea can cause upset stomach, digestive problems, and even acid reflux when consumed before bedtime. That is why it is advised that people with constipation issues, peptic ulcer, acid reflux or GERD, hyperacidity, and similar conditions avoid green tea before bedtime, or to lower its consumption overall.
- Unnecessary energy boost – As mentioned before, green tea is a rather stimulating drink; it stimulates the alpha brain waves which cause an alert but a calm feeling in the body. Moreover, this contributes to an energy boost, which is completely unnecessary before bedtime. This means that our brain halts sleep onset, becomes more wakeful and ready to carry out tasks that usually require an energy boost. Not to mention that your vision sharpens with an energy boost, which can be extremely hard to handle for closed eyes.
When Is Good To Drink Green Tea?
In The Morning
Because green tea is a stimulating drink, it is best to consume it in the morning. This way your body and brain will be ready for the daily challenges since your focus and concentration will be at their best performance. Green tea has mind-sharpening properties, enhances alertness, attention, and focus, which is everything you need on your side in a day.
However, unlike coffee, green tea also has a calming effect, so it won’t cause any jitters and unpleasant caffeine consumption symptoms. It won’t also cause any caffeine withdrawal symptoms, all because of L-theanine and other amino acids found in this healthy drink.
It is believed that green tea consumption is most beneficial before exercise. A study has shown that green tea extract consumption in 12 men increased fat-burning properties by 17%. In a similar study, 13 women had to drink green tea at least 2 hours before exercise; the results have shown a significant increase in fat-burning properties during the workout, compared to women who haven’t had green tea.
What Are Green Tea ‘Before Bedtime’ Alternatives?
Green tea, like other caffeine-rich drinks and teas, can be decaffeinated. Usually, people go for commercially decaffeinated green teas. Commercial decaffeination uses ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide to reduce the caffeine content, which in the end amounts to less than 0.4% of the original caffeine levels.
However, some people go for at-home decaffeination; this method usually includes several brewings of the same green tea leaves. Each brewing would take approximately 20 seconds and would be repeated with the same leaves for at least 2 times. This should lead to at least two-thirds caffeine levels reduction compared to the original caffeine levels.
Decaffeinated green tea, whether commercial or homemade, can have up to 2 mg of caffeine per cup, which is surely not enough to disturb your sleep.
But, because the tea goes through a decaffeination process, it is not only stripped of caffeine but also other compounds and properties.
Tea loses more antioxidants and medicinal properties the more it is processed.
That is why decaffeinated green tea is a great alternative if you want a cup of tea before bedtime, but it is not a good alternative for daily consumption since it can never live up to natural green tea.
Even though green tea is one of the healthiest drinks, alongside water, we surely do not recommend you drink it right before bedtime.
The disadvantages, in this case, outweigh the advantages, and they may lead to even more serious health complications. Instead, try to drink green tea throughout the day, especially in the morning; it will have the same health effects, but won’t disturb your sleep.