If you're a frequent reader of our blog, by now you probably know that we're big fans of moringa. Moringa started out as a supplement from ayurvedic medicine, but over time we've come to recognize it as a beneficial herbal remedy, with a wide range of useful purposes in health and holistic wellness.
We've also written about it quite a bit before. If you want to know what the overall health benefits of moringa are, we've got you covered. If you've read that and you're convinced you do want to try it out, we can help you decide whether to take it with or without food. We can even weigh in on how to take it, whether you want the powders, capsules, leaves, seeds, or juice. (We recommend the juice.)
One thing we haven't covered – and which is surprisingly important for some supplements – is when during the day you should take it. Should you take it before bed, or in the evening? Or does it not much matter?
Why Some Medications Need to be Taken at Night
First, let's discuss the reason why some medications say to only take them at night or before bed. If you're taking a medication to deal with allergies or to help tone down a skin rash, or just to regulate your thyroid levels, you may be instructed to take the medication before bed. But why? Your skin health, your thyroid, these things are affected by sleep, but they aren't particularly vulnerable to medication at night.
There are generally two reasons why you might be asked to take medication at night.
The first is if the medication can be disrupted with food. When you take a medication, it has to pass through your digestive system to make its way into your blood and to whatever part of the body is affected by it. However, this can be disrupted by eating food, drinking water, or other effects of digestion.
Usually, these medications simply say to avoid eating within an hour of taking the med, though. This is rarely the reason why you'd want to take medication at night. The real reason is the second reason:
The side effects.
Just about every medication has side effects. In fact, some medications exist solely BECAUSE of their side effects. Rogaine, the popular hair growth medication, was originally being studied as a vasoconstrictor, but scientists noticed that it stimulated hair growth. After some study, it was determined to be much better used as a hair growth med than a vasoconstrictor, so now that's how it's sold and used.
There's one primary side effect that matters the most for medications you take at night, and that's drowsiness. If a medication has a high chance of making you sleepy, chances are that doctors will tell you to take it before bed. That way, drowsiness just contributes to longer, more restful sleep, rather than making you lethargic and sluggish during the day.
This is, incidentally, why some medications with drowsiness as a side effect specifically warn you not to operate heavy machinery or drive while taking it. The drowsiness contributes to a slower reaction time, making it more likely that you'll do something wrong or get into an accident.
The Opposing Benefits of Moringa
If you've investigated moringa, you may wonder about something. People often cite moringa giving them two good benefits:
- It helps them sleep.
- It gives them energy.
What's the deal here? If something gives you energy – think caffeine – you're going to have a hard time sleeping. If something makes you sleepy, it's going to make you sluggish and lethargic. Those two run counter to each other; how can moringa give you both?
In order to understand that, you need to understand what can disturb your sleep or disrupt your energy levels throughout the day.
Factors That Disrupt Sleep
Sleep is a critical part of how your body functions. While you're asleep, your body heals. It heals from a lot of different things: wounds, stress, mental fatigue, and more. Various bodily functions only kick in when you're asleep, or ramp up as you sleep, clearing out toxins and regulating bodily levels. Your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops, your blood sugar regulates itself; all manner of different functions kick in.
Contrary to some beliefs, you don't shut down when you're asleep. Your body is very active, just doing different things.
- Your brain converts short-term memories into long-term memories, freeing up space for more short-term memories.
- Your body grows more active in repairing damage, such as muscle tears, wounds, or organ damage.
- Your immune system kicks into overdrive, using energy you would otherwise spend on being awake to fight off invaders and pathogens.
- Your hormones shift and balance themselves.
This is all why so many different disorders and illnesses affect sleep, and why when you're sore, fatigued, or sick, you want to sleep more. Sleep is a recovery process.
Disruptions in any of your bodily systems can affect your sleep. If you lack enough vitamins or nutrients, you might not sleep very well. If your hormones are out of balance – be it through puberty, menopause, disruptions in your pituitary system, or an illness – you will suffer from poor quality sleep or even insomnia.
How Moringa Assists Sleep
Moringa has been used as a sleep-enhancing supplement for centuries, though that's not its primary use case.
First and foremost, we should mention that moringa does not induce sleep. It's not a king of sleep aid the way something like Benadryl, Melatonin, or Valerian Root are. It will not make you drowsy. So how does it benefit sleep?
Moringa is nutritious. Your body needs fuel, both in the form of protein and carbs, and in the form of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, and other nutrients. Moringa is a highly nutritious little vegetable, so even as a supplement, it's packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more. All of this helps to ensure that your body has the fuel it needs to restore itself throughout the night, making your sleep more restful.
Moringa is an anti-inflammatory. One of the biggest enemies to overall health, including sleep health, is inflammation. Inflammation causes a lot of chronic aches and pains, and is responsible for a surprising amount of health issues you might not otherwise think are connected. More importantly, low-level inflammation is often nearly invisible until all of the side effects start piling up. Thankfully, some of the compounds in moringa are anti-inflammatory in nature, so taking it as a supplement helps fight off that bodily inflammation.
Moringa suppresses appetite. If you've ever woken up in the middle of the night and gone for a midnight snack, you know that hunger pangs can be disruptive to sleep. It can be hard to fall asleep if you're hungry, and sufficient hunger can wake you up in the middle of the night and have you raiding the fridge. Moringa is a great solution. Not only is it high in fiber and useful as a "snack" itself, but it also helps suppress your appetite. It's not strong enough to be considered a weight-loss tool – though it won't hurt – it's good to suppress that hunger until the morning.
Moringa is an antioxidant. One of the biggest causes of stress and disease is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is extremely disruptive to virtually every system of the body. Moreover, it can be caused by or exacerbated by the hormone cortisol, which can linger in the system for a very long time. If you've ever had a major stressful event, and then had hair loss months later, that's cortisol doing you dirty. Luckily, moringa is a useful supplement as an antioxidant, capable of helping to reduce your overall oxidative stress levels and repairing those bodily systems it hurt.
Moringa eases gut discomfort. The fiber in moringa is a very useful tool for aiding gut discomfort. If you tend to suffer from evening diarrhea or constipation or have other digestive issues, moringa can help. One thing to note, though, is that moringa juice isn't the best option for this. You'll probably want the capsules, powder, or even the whole leaves if you can find them. Make sure to try moringa during the day first, to see how your gut reacts, before you feel confident enough to take it in the evening.
Moringa supports the immune system. All of those various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in moringa are all good things to have on hand when your body starts trying to kick the immune system into overdrive. Immune reactions can cause any number of side effects, though you ignore most of them while you're asleep. Moringa helps minimize those while supporting the immune system as you sleep.
Moringa contains sleep-enhancing amino acids. In particular, the amino acid tryptophan is well-known as that amino acid that makes you sleepy after eating a bunch of turkey around thanksgiving. Well, it doesn't make you sleepy – that has been debunked – but it does enhance the quality of your sleep. That and other amino acids contribute to how well moringa helps you sleep.
These are just some of the broad-strokes overview benefits that moringa gives you when you take it before bed. One thing you might notice, though, is that none of these actually cause drowsiness or put you to sleep. They're equally effective during the day, or effective in different ways.
Do You Need to Take Moringa Before Bed?
Circling around, we come back to the original question. Should you take moringa before bed, or before going to sleep, as a sleep aid?
The answer is: it's up to you.
Moringa does not inherently put you to sleep, cause drowsiness, or otherwise reduce your energy levels. In fact, it can often do the opposite. When you take moringa in the morning, you're priming your body for a healthy day and giving it the building blocks it needs to keep your energy levels high all day long.
Conversely, when you take moringa before bed, you're giving your body fuel and nutrients it needs to sleep well. Moringa can enhance the quality of your sleep, but it alone isn't going to make you sleepy.
In general, we recommend taking moringa where you need it the most. If you find that you have issues with energy levels throughout the day, take moringa at lunch. If you find you have fine energy but have trouble sleeping, take moringa in the evening. If you find you have trouble waking up, but once you get going, you're good? Take moringa in the morning.
In particular, if you have trouble sleeping, moringa can help. However, there are other things you can do as well, such as:
- Change your bed sheets more often. Many people don't change their sheets often enough, and the accumulated dust and grime can be disruptive.
- Avoid screens for an hour before bed, and keep them out of bed entirely. Your bed should be a place you go for one reason and one reason only: to sleep.
- Don't build a habit of doing things in bed. Even reading can be disruptive to your body's rhythm.
- Avoid blue light for an hour before bed. Blue light is disruptive to your circadian rhythm. Use a night mode on your phone and install an app like f.lux for your computer, as necessary.
- Try to keep a consistent schedule. Variability in when you go to sleep and when you wake up is a major sleep killer.
Finally, don't be afraid to mix a sleep aid in with moringa. Since moringa doesn't cause drowsiness, it's not dangerous to mix it with a sleep aid like Benadryl or Valerian Root. It's just a generally good option for giving your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to enhance the quality of your sleep.
Is it recommended that you take moringa before bed or at night? Not really. It doesn't particularly matter when you take moringa, so take it when you need it the most.Do you take Moringa? When is your preferred time to take it? We'd love to hear your thoughts!