Small, portable, convenient, and delicious, bananas are the perfect snack. They are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber. One medium-sized banana includes 9 percent of your daily potassium requirement, 33 percent of your vitamin B6 requirement, and 8 percent of your magnesium requirement. Bananas can also aid in weight loss, reduce swelling, and increase white blood cell production. Because bananas are high in antioxidants, they can protect you against cancer-causing toxins.
But did you know bananas can also help you sleep? It turns out; this beloved fruit is the perfect sleep aid. It provides several vitamins and minerals that can improve the quality of your sleep. Bananas reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate muscle cramps, and regulate your sleep-wake cycle with serotonin and melatonin. Read on to find out how.
Why is a Banana the Perfect Bedtime Snack?
Not only are bananas packed with health benefits, but the magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6 in this fruit work together to help you fall asleep quickly and rest peacefully.
Reduce Muscle Cramps
The high levels of potassium in bananas can relax your muscles and reduce nighttime cramps. Has your sleep ever been disrupted by painful muscle cramps? These cramps disrupt your rest and make it difficult to fall back asleep. Muscle cramps are often a result of low potassium levels and can be common among pregnant women. Since potassium balances the sodium and electrolytes in the body, it can reduce the likelihood of developing nighttime muscle cramps. It acts as a muscle relaxant to help you fall asleep quickly and prevent sleep disruptions.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
A high magnesium diet is also linked to lower stress and anxiety levels. Since bananas are a good source of magnesium, they may help you relax and release stress before bed. Magnesium affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls the adrenal and pituitary glands (the glands responsible for stress), and can reduce symptoms of mild anxiety. Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia, so a banana before bed may be just what you need to fall asleep quickly.
In addition to stress and anxiety, magnesium can aid sleep. Because this mineral helps the body maintain GABA levels (Gamma-Aminobytric acid), it plays a significant role in helping you achieve restful sleep. GABA levels are the neurotransmitters that promote sleep by slowing brain waves and calming the body. Since magnesium ensures healthy levels of GABA, those dealing with insomnia or other sleep disorders can find relief by taking magnesium supplements or by eating a banana before bed.
Increases Serotonin and Melatonin Production
The vitamin B6 in bananas works to convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin, the neurotransmitter controlling melatonin levels in the body. Melatonin regulates your internal clock by causing you to feel sleepy in the evening. Without enough melatonin, it may be difficult to fall asleep. By eating a banana before bed, you ensure your body has what it needs to relax and find a good night’s sleep naturally.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Magnesium may also reduce the symptoms associated with Restless Legs Syndrome. This sleep disorder results in an uncontrollable need to move the legs. It often causes a tingling or itching sensation when the body is at rest. Those who suffer from RLS (about 10 percent of Americans) experience trouble sleeping and often live with chronic sleep deprivation. Some studies suggest magnesium was able to curb the symptoms of RLS, helping patients find restful sleep. Since bananas are high in potassium, they can be a natural and effective way to reduce the discomfort associated with RLS.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Potassium also regulates blood pressure naturally. This mineral works to balance the harmful effects of sodium in the body. This process reduces the amount of water the kidneys need to store and naturally lowers blood pressure. Several studies show a link between a high potassium diet and heart health. Those who live with high blood pressure can help lower it by eating foods rich in potassium.
Other Foods That Can Help You Sleep
Several other foods can promote better sleep. Below is a list of some common foods you can pair with a banana for better sleep quality.
- Like bananas, tart cherries are also a good source of melatonin and vitamin C. Consider drinking a small amount of tart cherry juice at least 1 to 2 hours before bed.
- Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that promotes sleep by binding to sleep-inducing receptors in the brain. Chamomile also naturally lowers blood sugar levels and is thought to reduce acid reflux.
- Other vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beans are a good source of potassium and can help you relax before bed.
- Milk contains tryptophan, so a glass of milk paired with a banana would set you up for peaceful sleep.
For additional nighttime snack ideas, we have also put together a list of 25 healthy nighttime snacks to reduce insomnia.
Foods to Avoid Before Bed
To ensure deep, restful sleep each night, be sure to avoid caffeine at least 4 to 6 hours before bed. Caffeine blocks adenosine production. Adenosine is a naturally occurring chemical that builds up in the body throughout the day and increases sleepiness at night. Just one cup of coffee can stop this production, stimulate the brain, increase wakefulness, and disrupt your body’s internal clock. Also, be aware of beverages such as soda or energy drinks that contain large amounts of caffeine. Dark chocolate is a popular sweet treat, but it does contain a small amount of caffeine that could disrupt sleep.
A light, healthy snack before bed can help you fall asleep quickly and rest easy. However, eating a large, heavy meal will make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Additionally, fatty foods before bed can cause digestive problems and heartburn. Instead, opt for one of the sleep-inducing snacks outlined above.
It is natural to want a snack as you relax before bed, but be sure to choose something that won’t interfere with your sleep quality. Avoid the ice cream and chips and opt for something from our list above. A banana and a cup of chamomile tea is a satisfying snack that will also help you relax and sleep comfortably.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.