Healthy Living

Green tea before bed – 16 health benefits

Touted as one of the healthiest drinks in the world today, a green tea does live up to the hype, and more.

Story Highlights

  • Green tea is a great detoxifying agent.
  • Drinkers of green tea have been found to have lower risks of developing cancer.
  • Green tea contains stimulants that enhance the brain function.
  • Green tea acts as a rich source of antioxidants and thus protects our health.
  • Buy Green tea.

Used since the ancient times in Chinese and Indian medicine, the innumerable benefits of consuming green tea daily have been proven time and again by extensive research and studies. A 2010 review reported the various benefits of green tea demonstrated in laboratory studies and its implications in humans. 1 Though it can be had at any time of the day, there are certain additional advantages of having a cuppa right before bedtime. A few of the benefits derived from drinking a cup of green tea before bed, are as follows:

16 Benefits of having Green Tea before bed

Source of nutrients

Made out of un-fermented tea leaves, green tea does retain the goodness of those leaves in the form of antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins. 2 Antioxidants are basically substances that protect the cells in our body from damage from harmful, free radicals. Green tea acts as a rich source of antioxidants and thus protects our health. They also act as detoxifying agents, thus ensuring the removal of harmful toxins from your body.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

– Benjamin Franklin

Lower the risk of cancer

fight-cancerGreen tea has been extensively researched for its role in prevention and treatment of cancer. Drinkers of green tea have been found to have lower risks of developing cancer than those abstaining from it. 3 This is largely attributed to epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) found in the beverage. 4 Research also shows that green tea has definite synergistic action when administered along with anti-cancer drug, Sulindac. 5 The beneficial effects of green tea have even been documented with regards to specific cancers, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and many more. 6 7 8 9

A word of caution: green tea is known to interact with few other chemotherapy drugs, 10 and hence, it is advisable to consult your oncologist in case you are on any medication prior to drinking green tea regularly.

Improved brain function

Green tea contains stimulants that enhance the brain function. A very recent review published in October 2017 11 concluded that green tea positively influences memory, attention and overall brain function. This is attributed to multiple compounds present in the tea such as L-theanine and caffeine, and not a single one.

L-theanine has also shown to lower the risk of dementia according to a Japanese study. 12 Moreover, studies 13 have also shown that L-theanine has a potential role in the treatment of several psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, by virtue of its neuroprotective function.

Reduce stress and depression

depressionCaffeine and L-theanine in green tea help to combat depression, stress and anxiety. 14 A 2009 Japanese study in fact concluded that more frequent ingestion of green tea is associated with lower prevalence of depression in the elderly. 15

Weight loss

weight-lossHaving green tea at night, a couple of hours before you intend to sleep go a long way in your journey towards a leaner body.

Studies show that the catechins and caffeine in green tea possibly act in synergy and induce thermogenesis and increase fat oxidation. 16 This prevents development of obesity. Additionally, several long-term studies have shown that green tea catechins induce a true reduction in body fat. 17 18 Green tea has also been researched as an agent to limit weight gain after weight loss, where it has shown success. 19

Nevertheless, a study carried out on overweight breast cancer survivors showed that though there was reduction in weight with green tea, it was not statistically significant. 20 It should be noted however, that the green tea studied in this research was decaffeinated.

Overall, the research largely proves the anti-obesogenic effect of green tea and there is no downside in consuming it with that intent.

Improved physical performance

Apart from the boost in thermogenesis and fat oxidation as described above, caffeine, a component in the green tea has also shown to improve the physical performance capacity. 21 As per a meta-analysis published in 2004, caffeine increases the endurance, as high as up to 12%. 22

Improved digestion & gut health

Green tea has shown a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota. 23 The effects of green tea on gastrointestinal system have been studied extensively and they have proved favorable. 24 It should be however, consumed cautiously by patients suffering from gut disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, as the caffeine might increase the symptoms.

Moreover, by having a cup of green tea before bed, you are more likely to boost your digestion over the night, which might prove useful to avoid constipation in the morning.

Sleep better

sleep-betterNot everything is about Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). L-theanine in the green tea is a known anxiolytic and relaxant. 25 Studies show that L-theanine also helps children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to sleep more soundly. 26 Thus, by having your green tea at night before bed, you are helping your body to relax and prepare for a deep, good-quality sleep.

Boost in the morning

By allowing you to sleep peacefully, having your green tea before bed also assures you of a charged-up, energetic morning, with your brain working at its maximal efficiency.

Lowered risk of infection

The catechism in green tea have time and again, showed anti-microbial properties against several bacteria, thus lowering the risk of infection. 27

A special mention about the compound EGCG in green tea is needed here, which has excellent results in battling the flu and common cold virus. 28 The immune-boosting properties of green tea also ensure that you no longer have to take sick days at work.

Improves overall cardiovascular health

Heart-healthEpidemiological studies have shown that the consumption of green tea reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 29 The overall cardiovascular health is maintained by green tea in various different ways, all working together. These mechanisms include, but are not limited to:

  • Green tea lowers the blood pressure, thus reducing the work to be done by heart in pumping blood to the whole body. 30
  • By virtue of its lipid-lowering properties, green tea not only reduces the risk of obesity but also the risk of cardiac disease. 31
  • Green tea has shown a positive effect on dilating the blood vessels of the body, thus improving overall circulation. It also prevents development of plaques in the vessels, which causes atherosclerosis. 32

Positive impact on glycaemic control

The word ‘Glycaemic’ is concerned with the blood sugar levels. Researchers have documented the inverse association of green tea and risk of Type II diabetes in several large studies.

As per a 2013 Japanese study, green tea lowers the risk of obesity, thus improving insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of developing diabetes. 33

For those who have already developed full-blown diabetes, green tea still comes opt the rescue by having a positive effect on fasting blood glucose levels and fasting insulin levels. 34

By consuming green tea before bed, you ensure that your blood glucose levels do not fluctuate much throughout the night, thus ensuring a good night’s rest.

Improves oral hygiene

Drinking green tea not only eliminates bad breath, but also prevents caries and tooth decay. 35 Another German study demonstrated how chewing green-tea candy helped in reducing the gingival inflammation and preserve health of the gums. 36 Green tea has even showed results in slowing the progression of oral cancer.

Aging, longevity and risk of mortality

Green tea polyphenols help fight the signs of aging and maintain the condition of your joints and bones. Researchers have proven that green tea is prophylactic for arthritis and prevents cartilage breakdown. 37

Considering the positive impact on health described above, it is no wonder that green tea helps you live longer. A meta-analysis of 2015 shows that drinking green tea regularly not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular mortality, but even all-cause mortality. 38

Skincare

beauty-skincareLooking younger is desired by all. By increasing blood circulation and protecting against ultraviolet radiation, the polyphenols in green tea lead to an improvement in skin quality, also slowing the development of wrinkles. 39 Green tea extract can be used topically along with the sunscreen to prevent sun damage.

By virtue of its anti-bacterial and detoxifying properties, green tea also helps in preventing the development of acne and blemishes.

The compounds in green tea have also been found to induce differentiation of skin cells. 40 This brings up the possibility of use of these compounds enwound closures and other such conditions.

Likewise, local application of polyphenols in green teas has shown to benefit people suffering from genital warts. 41

Other conditions

Green tea also plays a role in few other conditions, such as:

  • Glaucoma and other eye diseases – Catechins in green tea are absorbed by the various tissues of the eye and show anti-oxidative activity, thus exerting a protective effect. 42
  • Stroke – Green tea has shown to lower the risk of cerebral ischemic stroke. 43
  • Renal calculi – Better known as kidney stones, few studies shows that the constituents of green tea may inhibit their formation. 44

Possible side effects of having green tea before bed

 Despite all the benefits of green tea, there are some adverse effects that can be seen in a few particular situations or conditions. These are not very common, and but it is imperative to be aware of the prospect of any side effect of consuming green tea. The side effects of having green tea are: 

Wakefulness

Green tea does contain some amount of caffeine, which is a stimulant. 45 Although the caffeine content is much less than that in equal measure of coffee, this might still pose difficulty for a few people to fall asleep after consuming green tea at bedtime. One can opt for decaffeinated green tea to avoid this problem.

Interaction with other drugs

Green tea and its constituents pose the possibility of causing untoward effects, if you are on medication such as oestrogen, methotrexate, theophylline, warfarin etc. Thus, it is better to check with your physician for any known interactions and ascertain the safety.

Pregnancy and Lactation

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you can have green tea, but in limited quantities. It has been found that in these conditions, you should restrict yourself to maximum two cups a day. 46 This is because consumption of greater quantities of tea has found to be linked with increased risk of miscarriage and folic acid deficiency in the baby. Also, compounds such as caffeine in the green tea can be secreted into the breast milk.

Certain conditions

Green tea can worsen your health, if you suffering from disorders such as diarrhea, bleeding disorders or insomnia. 47 Hence, it is best to consult a doctor before beginning to consume green tea regularly, if you have any health condition.

Poor absorption of iron and vitamin B12

Excessive consumption of green tea can lead to poor iron absorption in the intestine, leading to iron deficiency anemia. 48

Likewise, drinking excessive amounts of green tea can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. 49

Rise in blood pressure

This is a possible side effect of consuming green tea. 50 Studies have however documented that the rise is insignificant and short-term, and is not a cause of alarm. 51

Now that you have seen the overall advantages of drinking your green tea before bed, what if I tell you there are certain simple-to-follow ways by which you can further enhance the efficacy of this magical potion? To make the most of your tea, you can:

How much tea should you have?

It has been shown by multiple studies that one should not consume more than five to six cups of tea a day, 52 with ten being the upper limit. Two to three cups a day is the recommended dosage. 53 However, this is meant to be spread over the whole day, and not had solely at night time.

When to have green tea at night?

It is recommended to not have green tea on an empty stomach, as the tannin in the tea increases the production of gastric acid, leading to stomach ache, nausea or even ulcers. 54 To avoid any interference with meals, it is advised to have green tea 30-45 minutes after your meal, but at least an hour before bedtime. This is to ensure that you avoid frequent trips to the bathroom after falling asleep.

Things to note while having green tea at night

Add little lemon juice to the tea

Adding citrus juice increases the quantity of catechins (which possess most of health-promoting benefits) in green tea that can be absorbed by the body. 55 Lemon is a good source of citrus juice, and it is a bonus that it also enhances the taste of green tea.

Stay away from that bottle of milk

Addition of milk to tea counteracts many of the beneficial actions of tea, including that on the dilatation of blood vessels. Casein, a milk protein was held accountable for this inhibition 56 and thus, to gain maximum benefit out of your nightly drink, it is best to avoid adding milk to it.

Avoid having green tea after an iron-rich meal

The iron consumed in your diet binds to the active compounds in the green tea, reducing its bio-availability and thus, effectiveness. 57 Hence, it is best to avoid having a cup of tea directly after having a meal rich in dietary sources of iron.

Use high-quality tea

Although green tea can be stored in sealed packaging for several months, it is best to consume it as fresh as possible. 58 This is recommended because the content of catechins in the tea has been shown to decrease over time. Of course, like any other consumable, it is logical to consume high-quality tea rather than the cheap kind. Moreover, the loose leaf does have advantages over tea bags, which are nevertheless, an easier and quicker option.

Summary

Categorized as one of the super foods by some, drinking green tea before bed is surely one of the healthier habits that you can develop. However, like everything else, moderation is the key to green tea too. The goodness of this beverage has been documented in the literature, in the form of multiple reviews and studies all over the world. Just try it for yourself and see the difference it makes to your overall health and well-being.


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Dr. Ashmi Manglunia (MD)

Dr. Ashmi completed her MBBS in 2010 and then went ahead to complete her MD in Nuclear Medicine. Overall, she has been associated with healthcare for more than 12 years. She is passionate about writing and it is no surprise that she combined the two to write about health and wellness.

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