Do bananas help you sleep?

Bananas are not only one of the most delicious fruits out there, they are also extremely healthy thanks to the amazing amounts of vitamins and minerals they contain. They can be eaten on their own or frozen and added to smoothies.

Some of the benefits of eating them include aiding in digestion, improving eye health and providing you with energy, ideal if you tend to work out a lot.

Bananas also contain certain compounds that could help give you a good nights sleep.

What makes us fall asleep?

There are many internal and external factors that determine when you fall asleep. These include compounds such as adenosine which is released in your brain, outside darkness and your age. Your body contains an internal clock (known as your circadian rhythm) that controls when you wake up and fall asleep. For most people, this clock repeats itself every 24 hours.

Your body clock controls the release of  chemicals. An example is melatonin (a hormone) which is released when it gets dark. Melatonin makes you feel drowsy and tells your body it needs to prepare for sleep. Your blood melatonin levels continue to rise through the evening, making you more and more drowsy.

Bright artificial lights tend to disrupt the release of melatonin which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is one of the main reasons it is advised that you do not watch TV or stare at mobile phone screen at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep.

Other chemicals such as tryptophan and serotonin also promote sleep.

So can bananas help you fall asleep?

Yes they can. They are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium; both are muscle relaxers. A medium banana containing 8% of your RDA of magnesium and 12% of your RDA of potassium. As you can imagine, feeling relaxed plays a crucial part in being able to fall asleep.

Bananas are also a good source of the amino acid L-tryptophan. Tryptophan is used to synthesize serotonin, a chemical messenger that leads to healthy sleeping patterns.

Additionally, eating bananas may help with melatonin production. In this study on 12 healthy male volunteers it was found that the consumption of banana, pineapple and orange led to an increase in melatonin concentrations.

So yes, bananas can definitely help you fall asleep. They go especially well with a warm glass of milk – warm milk has been shown to help induce sleep.

There are many other foods that also assist with sleep. These include almonds, oatmeal, cherries, herbal (decaf) teas, dark chocolate and hummus. One thing you do want to make sure of is to try not to eat at least 30 minutes (an hour if possible) before you plan on falling asleep. This will give your body enough time for digestion.

However these foods, banana included,  are not a miracle drug – you still need to have good sleep hygiene to ensure you are able to fall asleep quickly. If you have bad sleeping habits, no amount of these foods will help you fall asleep. We will discuss some tips to help you get a good nights sleep below.

Some tips to help you fall asleep faster

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Avoid bright screens and lights – as mentioned above, both of these disrupt the release of melatonin, making it harder for you to fall asleep. Instead of watching TV or playing a game on your mobile phone, you should read a book in dim lighting – this will help you feel drowsy.

Be regular – you will be able to fall asleep much easier if you stick to a routine. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time everyday, even on weekends. If your sleep pattern is out of synch, use an alarm clock to wake up at the same time everyday. Over time your body will get used to this and wake up at that time naturally.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine – all 3 of these disrupt your sleep. Alcohol is a diuretic and leads to dehydration. It may help you feel drowsy initially but it will not give you the deep kind of sleep that your body requires. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, both of which will leave you tossing and turning for a long time.

Make your bedroom sleep friendly – there are many things you can do to make your bedroom a more comfortable place to sleep in:

  • For starters, make sure you have a good quality mattress. This may be a bit of an investment but will make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. High quality mattresses tend to last for many years.
  • You also want to ensure that your bedroom is pitch black; this can be achieved by using thick curtains that block out light. Alternatively, you can wear a sleep mask.
  • An ambient temperature will help you fall asleep faster. Use a fan to keep your room cool and leave a window open to assist with air circulation.
  • Finally, if there is too much noise, consider using earplugs.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that certain foods such as bananas can help you fall asleep. However there are many different factors that affect when you go to sleep and the quality of sleep that you get. Having good sleep hygiene is of the utmost importance.