Do bananas help you sleep? Should you eat them before bedtime? Should you avoid bananas when you need to stay alert?
Since there are many questions without a clear answer, I decided to research what science has to say about that subject.
To put an end to the uncertainty, here are the answers…
Do Bananas Help You Sleep at Night?
The answer is YES! Banana does make you sleepy, but not in a way that will make you feel tired and sluggish during your daily activity.
Eating a banana 2 hours before bed increases your serum melatonin (sleep hormone) levels.
If you wanna know how exactly banana aids your sleep, read the next few paragraphs…Eating a banana 2 hours before bed increases your serum melatonin (sleep hormone) levels Click To Tweet
Why Do Bananas Help You Sleep?
Bananas contain a group of compounds that aids sleep. A single medium-sized banana contains the following on average:
- Potassium – 370mg (~10% of the daily recommended amount).
- Magnesium – 28mg (~7% of the daily recommended amount).
- Vitamin B6 – 0.4 mg (~25% of the daily recommended amount).
- Vitamin C – 9mg (~10% of the daily recommended amount).
- Tryptophan – 10mg (~3% of the daily recommended amount)
- Melatonin – 66ng.
- GABA – 0.023 mg g-1.
But if those ingredients help you get that great sleep you deserve, would they also make you sleepy if you eat them during the day?
To answer this, let’s take a look at how exactly bananas help you fall asleep.
Bananas improve your sleep by:
Relaxing your muscles
Nocturnal muscle cramps affect up to 60% of American adults.
Deficiency in magnesium and/or potassium might cause muscle cramps.
2 Bananas a day serve you 20% of the daily recommended amount of potassium and 15% of the daily recommended amount of magnesium.
Therefore, bananas reduce the risk of nocturnal cramps.
Reducing stress and anxiety
Stress keeps 60 million Americans awake at night.
In a survey, 37% of participants reported they felt tired because of stress.
Magnesium can help to moderate stress and reduce anxiety levels.
Since bananas contain a high amount of magnesium, eating bananas might help you to beat insomnia.
If you can’t get the daily recommended amount of magnesium (420 mg), you can use supplements.
I recommend the magnesium tablets of country life.
In addition to magnesium they also contains Silica, which is important for healthy hair and nails and for keeping you skin elastic.
Slowing down your brainwaves
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can help to slow down your brainwaves which makes you more ready to sleep.
The magnesium in bananas might increase the availability of GABA, therefore, helping you to enter sleep mode.
Besides, a double-blind randomized clinical trial shows that magnesium supplementation can:
- Improve sleep efficiency.
- Increase sleep time.
- Reduce sleep onset latency.
Boosting your serotonin and melatonin production:
Vitamin B6 in bananas has an important role in converting tryptophan into serotonin.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid we get from food (such as bananas).
Serotonin, also known as the “feel-good” hormone, is produced especially when we expose ourselves to light during the day.
We need vitamin b6 and tryptophan (bananas contain both of them) to create serotonin.
And why is this important?
Because Serotonin is acting as a precursor to melatonin.
It means that the hormone that makes us feel good during the day also leads to higher levels of melatonin at night.
Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm and helps you fall asleep.
Therefore, eating bananas might lead to a higher level of melatonin at night, which improves your sleep.
Treating restless leg syndrome
About 7% to 10% of Americans suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS).
This syndrome causes an irresistible need to move the legs, which makes it hard to fall asleep at night.
A study found that magnesium might be a useful therapy in mild to moderate cases of RLS.
So, as you can see, banana aids your sleep mainly by making you calmer, and not by dropping your energy levels.
Therefore, I would say that you should not feel worried about eating a few bananas during the day.
Also, there are many energy snacks that contain bananas.
So, in combination with some ingredients, bananas can even raise your energy levels.
Should You Eat Bananas before Bed?
Banana is a great food to improve your sleep.
However, I wouldn’t eat it (or any other type of food) right before going to sleep as you need some time for digestion, and sleeping in some sleeping positions might disrupt digestion.
As mentioned previously, eating a banana 2 hours before bedtime increases melatonin levels.
Therefore, eating a banana 2 hours before bedtime would be a great idea, especially if you combine it with other sleep-inducing fruits such as kiwi and pineapple.
Is There Any Disadvantage of Eating a Banana at Night?
According to Ayurveda, eating bananas can increase mucus production.
Therefore, eating a banana before bedtime can make it harder to breathe at night, especially if you are asthmatic.
I did a little research about that claim and found an answer by an expert that claims that this is true only if you have an allergy to bananas.
The best thing to do is to eat a couple of bananas in the morning or during the day, and see how it affects you.
If there is no excessive mucus production and/or difficulty to breath, then in my humble opinion, I would not worry about eating a couple of bananas 2 hours before bedtime.
3 Banana Recipes for Restful Sleep
Eating a raw banana as it is is the fastest and simplest way to eat a banana. However, it also has some disadvantages:
- You are not enjoying the high amount of antioxidants in the banana peel.
- There is more sleep-inducing food that you can combine with bananas, and you are not doing it.
- Eating a banana as it is can become boring really fast.
So here are 3 simple recipes that will help you make the most of the sleep-inducing effect of bananas…
Many people who gave a try to the banana tea claimed that it made them feel more relaxed and helped them fall asleep faster.
I don’t know if it’s really because of the tea or whether it’s because of the placebo effect, but as long as it works, who cares.
This tea is great because it makes it possible for you to enjoy the high antioxidant content in the banana peel.
It also contains some of the water-soluble nutrients released from the banana in the steeping process.
Since you are going to use the banana peel in this recipe, make sure you use organic bananas.
This is how you make a sleep-inducing banana tea:
- Wash the banana from any type of dirt and trim its ends.
- Fill a pot with 1.5 cups of water, the washed banana, and a cinnamon stick (optional).
- Bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the banana.
- Add honey (optional – some of the sugars in the banana released to the tea so it is already moderately sweet).
- Eat the banana flesh while drinking the banana tea.
Drink the tea no later than 1.5 hours before bedtime, so the urge to pee won’t wake you up in the middle of the night.
This recipe contains 4 types of food that promote sleep.
This is how you make a sleep-inducing smoothie:
- Add a banana, kiwifruit and a 100 gram of pineapple (all fruits peeled and diced), and 100 gram of tart cherries to the blender.
- Pour in 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of tart cherries juice or orange juice (100% real natural juice made from the fruit).
- Put 1 teaspoon of honey in the blender (optional).
- You can add ice cubes if your blender is strong enough.
- Blend and drink the smoothie right away as smoothies tend to become oxygenated and lose nutrients pretty fast.
Banana cream for salad
It’s best to use this cream on a salad with a lot of green leaves in order to contrast their bitter taste.
This is how you make a sleep-inducing banana cream:
- Put 1 banana, 1/4 teaspoon of white miso paste, 2 tablespoons of real orange juice or tart cherries juice, and a 1/4 cup of coconut milk in a blender.
- Blend until smooth. Add a little bit of water if necessary but be careful not to add too much water so it become too liquid.
- Pour the banana cream on the salad.
When Should You Not Eat Bananas?
I eat bananas whenever I want to, but if you want to be on the safe side, consider avoiding eating bananas in the next cases:
On an empty stomach
According to Ayurveda, it is not recommended to eat fruits by themselves on an empty stomach.
This is because of the high content of chemicals they contain.
Some say that you should also avoid eating bananas on an empty stomach because of their sugar content, which might cause a spike in insulin secretion.
Therefore, you should eat bananas combined with other types of food.
If you are allergic to latex
30-50% of those who are allergic to latex also show an associated hypersensitivity to some types of fresh fruits.
Therefore, if you are allergic to latex, it might be a good idea to have yourself tested for food allergies.
In case your kidneys are not fully functional
Consumption of an excessively high amount of potassium might be harmful in case the kidneys are unable to remove the excess potassium.
Therefore, if you have any issues with your kidneys, make sure you are not consuming more than the recommended daily amount of potassium.
It is also recommended to consult with a dietitian about whether it is safe for you to eat bananas in this situation.
6 Additional Health Benefits of Bananas
In case that improving your sleep is not enough motivation for you to start eating bananas, I’m pretty sure that this section will convince you.
Bananas have too many health advantages to provide. Here are some of them:
An effective way to reduce blood pressure
Hitting the daily recommended amount of potassium can lower your blood pressure.
Unfortunately, about half of Americans get only half of the daily recommended amount of potassium.
A couple of bananas by themselves give you 20% of the daily recommended amount.
Adding a few more potassium-rich foods, such as broccoli, leafy greens, kiwi, and sweet potatoes to the bananas, ensures that you get enough potassium.
May improve digestion
Green bananas are rich in resistant starch.
This starch act as a prebiotic, which means they feed the good bacteria in the gut.
Healthy gut bacteria are vital for proper digestion and also helps you to relax and to sleep well.
Help you lose weight
In addition to resistant starch, bananas are also rich in a soluble fiber called pectin.
Soluble fibers can make you feel more full and reduce your calorie intake.
The resistant starch in a green banana also has the ability to reduce your appetite.
Sodium is an electrolyte that is necessary for important functions of our body, like managing our blood pressure for example.
The daily amount of sodium our body needs is around 200 mg.
However, a big amount of sodium is hidden in processed foods.
Therefore the average American consumes 2,500 mg – 7,500 mg of sodium a day.
On the other hand, the average American consumes only 2,500 mg of potassium out of the 4,700 mg that our body needs a day.
This imbalance might cause bloating.
Since there are 370 mg potassium and only 1 gram of sodium in a middle-sized banana, eating bananas helps improve the potassium/sodium ratio.
Healthy cardiovascular system
In a study with 90,137 women participants, researchers found that high consumption of potassium lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 27%.
Another mineral in bananas that helps support a healthy cardiovascular system is magnesium.
Deficiency in magnesium correlates with a number of chronic cardiovascular diseases.
Therefore, it is important to reach the daily-recommended amount of magnesium from food or supplements.researchers found that high consumption of potassium lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 27% Click To Tweet
Helps maintain blood sugar levels under control
Bananas contain fiber pectin, which can improve glucose tolerance.
In addition, the resistant starch in bananas can significantly decrease insulinemia (excessively high concentration of insulin in the blood).
4 weeks of consumption of resistant starch can also help improve insulin sensitivity.
As a result, insulin can do its job more efficiently, which is to help your body turn sugars into energy and to store glucose in the muscles, in fat cells, and in the liver for later use.
Last but not least, the average glycemic index (GI) of bananas is 51.
It means that eating a banana causes a moderate increase in blood sugar levels.
Foods with high GI level on the other hand (above 70), creates a quick spike in blood sugar levels.
So unless you are a diabetic, bananas are considered to be safe.
Bananas are not just an ingredient in tasty meals.
They also provide numerous benefits for your health and mood.
One of them is that it helps you to fall asleep and maybe even to beat insomnia.
You can get bananas almost everywhere so it will be a crime not to enjoy all its benefits.
Therefore I recommend you to:
- Find a banana recipe you like. You can try the recipes in this article.
- Eat it 2 hours before going to bed.
- Fall asleep.
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