How Raw Garlic Affects Sleep: What The Science Says

How raw garlic affects sleep

Garlic is loved the world over because of its distinct flavor and medicinal-like utility. Raw garlic contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that can positively affect the human body. What about when it comes to your nightly shut-eye though? Does garlic have any kind of impact on your sleep or your REM cycles? If so, how much? In this post we’ll be examining this subject further. Knowing all of the possible ways in which raw garlic affects sleep can aid you in making dietary choices that are best for your personal needs.

The Difference Between Garlic Extracts And Raw Garlic

Garlic comes in many different forms, and not all of them behave in the same way once they’ve entered the bloodstream. In order to better understand how raw garlic affects sleep, we first have to make a distinction between raw garlic and the other forms the bulbous spice may come in.

Garlic Products and Extracts

Likely the most common form of garlic consumption, garlic comes in a variety of types and extracts — or concentrated preparations that exclude other properties of the plant.

Types of garlic extracts are as follows:

  • In pill form as a supplement
  • Minced and fermented in a jar
  • In paste form as a cooking substitute to raw garlic
  • As dried flakes used for cooking
  • In powder form as a seasoning

These are just a few examples. Garlic can come in many different shapes, sizes, and varieties.

Raw Garlic

Raw garlic is garlic that is preserved in its whole clove form, uncooked, and without anything removed or added.

Raw garlic
Raw garlic, both minced and in its whole clove form.

In short, the difference between raw garlic and garlic products is that raw garlic is not denatured in any way. It can, however, be crushed, sliced, or minced. In fact, raw garlic appears to have an even more profound impact on the body when crushed or minced.

How Garlic Affects The Body

Understanding all of the different ways in which garlic can affect the body can also help us better understand how garlic extracts and raw garlic affects sleep, if at all.

Before we progress, it should be noted that garlic can have major interactions with different types of medications, so make sure to check with WebMD to see if any medications you’re taking are indicated.

According to a meta-analysis study, garlic has been shown to be effective for:

  • Lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients
  • Regulating cholesterol
  • Stimulating immunity

And these are just a few of garlic’s benefits. Other sources suggest that garlic may be helpful in combating atherosclerosis, reducing pre-meal blood sugar, reducing the risk of prostate cancer, and more.

In a recent overview of the effects of garlic and honey taken together, the combination has been shown to:

  • Fight infections
  • Treat Athlete’s Foot
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Improve memory and brain health
  • Reduce asthma symptoms
  • & more

Raw Garlic

When crushed and left to sit for at least 10 minutes, raw garlic produces a compound known as Allicin. This compound is believed to be the driving factor of garlic’s many health benefits, and its presence in extracts and supplements has shown to be inconsistent. And a significant enough portion of it has also been shown to be killed off by cooking.

Consuming garlic cloves in their raw, whole form is one surefire way in which you can ensure that you’re getting the Allicin necessary to reap the benefits. This is usually done in combination with honey, otherwise raw garlic can cause burns to the mouth, throat and esophagus.

How Raw Garlic Affects Sleep

The benefits of garlic consumption are plentiful and plain to see, but what does this say about how raw garlic affects sleep?

Tip: garlic can be harmful to pets, so make sure to keep it out of reach.

You may be surprised to hear that as of the time of this writing, there is no evidence to suggest that raw garlic affects sleep in any meaningful way. This conclusion was reached after searching through thousands of medical journals and databases. We’re well aware of just how profound of an effect garlic can have on heart health and immunity, but data indicating an impact on sleep was not found.

This flies directly in the face of other claims made about garlic and its ability to affect sleep. Some people like to sleep with a garlic clove under their pillow, and it’s not to keep vampires away! It’s because they find the smell and aroma to have a relaxing effect. However, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to support the efficacy of this.

Side Effects That May Impact Sleep

Although garlic doesn’t appear to impact sleep in any meaningful way, this doesn’t mean that raw garlic can’t have other side effects that may impact your sleep.

Despite garlic’s many benefits, it isn’t without its downsides. It has been shown to have adverse effects in some individuals.

According to, some of the side effects of garlic consumption can include:

  • Redness, swelling, or blistering when applied to the skin
  • Bleeding: including nosebleeds and bleeding of the gums
  • Easy bruising
  • Heartburn
  • Burning of the mouth and throat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gas and digestive discomfort
  • Diarrhea

Some of these side effects, if experienced, could possibly interrupt your ability to sleep if they happen to occur around bedtime. This is why it would be wise to consume garlic earlier in the day to ensure that whatever impact its side effects may have on your sleep are minimal, if at all.


If you’re looking to reap the benefits of garlic consumption — whether it be to add flavor to your food or to improve your health — but you’re worried about how it may affect your sleep, then worry no more. Despite all of the folklore and anecdotal storytelling, there is no substantial evidence that suggests that raw garlic affects sleep in any meaningful way. However, that doesn’t mean that garlic can’t have an indirect impact on sleep by way of its other effects on the body.

Just make sure to always consult with a physician before making any kind major dietary changes. And be mindful of your breath too!

This post was contributed by a member of the PBF writing staff. is an online publication for learning about plant-based food and nutrition.

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