An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but a banana at night can help you sleep tight. Next time you’re up late, battling a pesky combination of hunger and restlessness, reach for a banana before bed as a healthy late-night snack.
Midnight munchies are usually an unexpected annoyance. Either the hunger pangs strike right before you’re about to go to bed, or you wake up with a growling stomach that could rival a lion’s roar. Thus starts the long and arduous journey to the kitchen, where you rummage through your fridge for the tastiest contender. But skip the buffalo wings and grab a banana instead.
Eating a banana before bed may seem like an unexpected choice for satisfying late-night hunger, but they’re a nutritional powerhouse packed with essential minerals and vitamins. Moreover, bananas are the perfect serving size for a late-night snack.
Ideally, nighttime snacks should clock in at 200 to 300 calories — light yet filling. A banana paired with a small teaspoon of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey can not only appease hunger and satisfy your sweet tooth but can also help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
But why a banana over an apple or other fruits? Here’s everything you need to know about eating a banana before bed and curbing nighttime hunger for better sleep.
Do Bananas Help You Sleep?
The short answer is yes. A banana before bed is considered a natural alternative to sleeping pills and supplements because they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin can calm your mind and body, while melatonin is responsible for regulating your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Another reason to have a banana before bed is because it’s high in magnesium. Research has shown that low levels of magnesium have been linked to insomnia and restless leg syndrome, which can be disruptive to a good night’s sleep. The combination of magnesium and potassium found in bananas work in harmony to regulate blood pressure, relax muscles and nerves, and improve sleep quality.
What Are Other Benefits of Eating a Banana Before Bed?
Late-night snacking isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to weight gain. In fact, resisting the urge to eat when you’re hungry can interrupt your sleep and deregulate your hunger hormones. So, when the hunger strikes, leave the guilt behind and reach for a healthy snack. In particular, a banana is one of the best choices, and here are a few more reasons why.
Eases Stress and Anxiety - Nothing is more effective at impeding your ability to get a good night’s rest than a flurry of anxious thoughts. But bananas are natural beta-blockers, which means eating a banana before bed could help ease sleep anxiety and stress. You might also be more susceptible to stress if your potassium levels drop. On average, adults should consume at least 3,500-4,700 milligrams of potassium per day to regulate blood pressure, and a single banana contains up to 450 milligrams, depending on weight.
Reduces Muscle Cramps - Waking up in the middle of the night with a painful muscle cramp can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it tougher to go back to sleep. Because bananas are a good source of magnesium and potassium, having a kick of magnesium before bed can ease painful muscle contractions and spasms and promote overall relaxation.
Improves Digestive Health - A banana before bed is the ideal choice for a late-night snack because it gets digested quickly. Though the fruit is high in carbs, bananas contain carbohydrates that can be broken down easily. Bananas are also gentle on the stomach, which is why it’s considered one of the best things to eat if you experience acid reflux or suffer from food poisoning.
Tasty Ways to Eat a Banana
When it’s late at night, and your stomach won’t stop growling, the last thing you might want to eat is fruit, no matter how good it is for you. But bananas can be a satisfying late-night treat, especially if you’re craving something sweet.
Here are a few delicious ideas so that you don’t get bored eating a banana before bed every night.
Banana ‘Nice’ Cream - To make this frozen dessert, all you need are frozen bananas, a splash of milk, and optionally, some toppings of your choice. Blend up the bananas and milk until the consistency resembles soft serve, and top it off with some peanut butter, walnuts, or chia seeds for an extra protein kick.
Banana Pancakes - The best thing about cooking with bananas is that it’s a healthy substitute for sweeteners and even flour. For these pancakes, you’ll only need one ripe banana and two eggs. You can also add a dash of cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a pinch of baking soda so it tastes more like traditional pancakes.
Banana Tea - Though it might sound unusual, banana tea has been touted as a natural solution for insomnia and may even be more effective than eating a banana on its own. This is because the tea is made using banana peel, which contains more potassium and magnesium than the banana itself. To brew the banana tea, rinse the banana thoroughly and add it to boiling water with the peel. After simmering for 10 minutes, strain the tea and enjoy it with a dash of cinnamon or honey.
Caramelized Bananas - Eating a banana night after night gets old, but by caramelizing your banana, you can pretend you’re eating a Bananas Foster in the French Quarter. Almost. This version might be slightly less indulgent, but caramelized bananas are crisp on the outside and gooey and warm on the inside, making it one of the tastiest ways to eat a banana before bed. To make this treat, slice your banana into thick rounds, heat a bit of butter on a pan, and cook until they’re brown on both sides.
Banana Toast - On hungrier nights, make yourself a banana toast by spreading a thin layer of peanut butter on a slice of toast and topping it off with bananas.
Don’t Like Bananas? Try Other Foods That Help You Sleep
A banana before bed isn’t the only way to lock in a good night’s rest. To improve the quality of your sleep, it’s important to make conscious food choices, especially at nighttime. Here are some other foods that help you sleep better.
Poultry - If you end up having a late dinner, try to incorporate a few ounces of lean turkey or chicken into your meal. Much like bananas, turkey and chicken are high in tryptophan, which is known for its sleep-inducing properties. Since lean meats are also good sources of protein, a small chicken breast or half a turkey sandwich can fill you up without causing you to feel overstuffed.
Fish - Incorporating fish into your diet regularly can improve the quality of your sleep. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are high in omega-3 and vitamin D, both of which are essential for regulating melatonin and helping you fall asleep faster.
Warm Milk - The benefits of drinking a glass of milk before bed isn’t just some old wives’ tale. Because milk is high in calcium, drinking it before bed can boost melatonin and regulate your sleep cycle. In case you’re lactose intolerant, opt for a dairy-free alternative. Almond milk and coconut milk are both great choices. Though they don’t contain much calcium, they’re both rich in magnesium, which can help you relax and fall asleep faster.
Cherries - Cherries are a great alternative to having a banana before bed, especially if you’re looking for a light snack. Cherries are a good source of melatonin and vitamin C. One study showed that subjects who drank a glass of cherry juice every night reported an improvement in their insomnia symptoms than those who drank a placebo.
Tea - Decaffeinated teas are a popular natural solution for sleepless nights. Teas contain many antioxidants that can have a relaxing effect on the body and help you sleep better. Some popular teas for sleep include chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, lemon balm, and lavender.
What to Avoid Before Bed
A banana before bed may help you sleep, but only if you’re mindful of what you eat throughout the day. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, the biggest culprit might be caffeine. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to 10 hours, so be sure to have your last cup of coffee by early afternoon so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
The foods you eat and drink can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. To get an uninterrupted night’s sleep, avoid eating a heavy meal right before bedtime. In case your stomach starts rumbling late at night, don’t ignore it. Instead, opt for a banana before bed or any one of the snacks with sleep-inducing properties.
While the right foods can support a healthy sleep cycle, it’s not the only thing that can help you sleep better than ever. The most comfortable mattress, establishing a solid sleep routine, and practicing healthy sleep hygiene habits are all essential for a good night’s rest.
Do Bananas Help You Sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.