There are several benefits of bananas, predominantly due to the ingredients in them. Choosing a banana as a snack is a good idea, but only keep it to one (or a maximum of two) a day. Here are some of the benefits of eating a banana:
Magnesium in bananas makes it beneficial to you and your body. If you have a magnesium deficiency, it can lead to high blood pressure and that can cause health problems. In the body, magnesium affects the section of the brain that is responsible for controlling the adrenal and pituitary glands (hypothalamus). It is also where stress levels are maintained. So, magnesium helps to increase melatonin production and reduces cortisol stress hormone.
To put it simply – magnesium in bananas will help you to relax and fall asleep quickly, by reducing any stress or anxiety, to give you a good night's rest.
The vitamins in bananas are vitamin C and vitamin B6.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can protect you from harmful free radicals, keeping you healthier. Whilst it helps to heal, repair and maintain all parts of your body. This is important to reduce the chances of having future health problems.
Vitamin B6 in your body converts amino acid (tryptophan) into serotonin. This combined with melatonin can help you to have better sleep. Getting enough of both melatonin and serotonin production can aid your sleep-wake cycle by making you sleepy at night and improving your bedtime routine.
Another benefit is that snacking on a banana is good for weight loss. To start with, bananas are low in calories which already makes them ideal for those who want to lose weight. Secondly, bananas are full of fibre which slows digestion and means they can keep you fuller for longer. In turn, you will feel too full to have any more snacks for a while and this will reduce your calorie intake.
So, there isn't necessarily a correlation between eating bananas and weight loss but there are factors that can assist. Opting for a banana over sugary treats is a better choice when you are hungry as they are more filling than sweets.
The health benefits of bananas all relate to the points we have previously discussed.
Bananas contain tryptophan which is an essential amino acid that our bodies do not produce, so the only way for us to get enough is to eat foods that have tryptophan. This is what turns into serotonin in our body. Therefore it helps with your mood, sleep quality, digestive health and more body functions.
Another key benefit is improving heart health. This is due to bananas containing potassium which helps blood pressure. Your blood pressure can be reduced after consuming a banana as the high levels of potassium reduces the effect of sodium. Getting the balance right means your blood pressure will be at a normal level.
The next benefit is that eating bananas can improve your blood sugar and help to maintain a stable blood sugar level. This can have long-term benefits and reduce your chance of suffering from diabetes. It is also important for those who have diabetes to keep their blood sugar at a normal level.
Lastly, bananas are good for exercise recovery. Eating a banana after a workout can reduce muscle cramps and inflammation to speed up recovery time.
When we say before bed, we mean not too close to bedtime but in the evening. We recommend having a banana a day to help with factors that can impact your sleep. If we take the benefits mentioned above, you will immediately see how eating a banana at night can help you have a night of better sleep.
Avoiding other foods that contain magnesium, like bananas, can increase your risk of having a sleep disorder. Obviously, there are many things that can cause you to have sleep disorders or give you trouble falling asleep but magnesium consumption plays a part in that.
Low magnesium affects your body and is linked to sleep disorders, insomnia symptoms and restless leg syndrome. So, maintaining the amount of magnesium is important for deep and restful sleep. The right amount of magnesium helps with slowing brain waves and calming the body, reinforcing why you should eat a banana before bed.
Sleep is a time for restoring so you will want to do what you can to promote sleep and experience a good night's sleep. The best time for your body to repair is during the night, hence the ideal time to eat a banana is in the evening. This is due to the properties of bananas encouraging healing and repairing. Having a banana can speed up the restoration period – meaning no more endless days of muscle cramps.
On to the food options.
There are many dos and don'ts when it comes to eating late at night and avoiding foods that can cause daytime sleepiness. Being tired during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
If you want a deep sleep (which you should), you need to choose foods that do not cause your heart rate or body temperature to rise because it will become more difficult to have a restful sleep. Your body will be too alert to relax.
Following this, you should avoid fatty foods, spicy foods and large meals – can cause discomfort and indigestion. With drinks, you should avoid caffeinated drinks and energy drinks. Even eating dark chocolate, which is good for you, is not so good before you fall asleep as it does contain a small amount of caffeine.
Now for the important food and drinks. Although there is a lot to avoid, there is still a selection of food and drinks you can have at night.
Let's start with the drinks you can have and the best ones to promote sleep. We suggest trying to have a glass of warm milk as it contains tryptophan, helps you fall asleep quickly and can regulate your sleep cycle. Dairy-free alternatives are also good before sleep.
Chamomile tea is another drink that promotes sleep. Drinking chamomile tea is recommended because it contains a sleep-inducing hormone, and relieves you of intrusive thoughts. Chamomile is known for lowering blood sugar levels and reducing acid reflux. Why not have a banana with your cup of tea while you wind down?
For those who have a sweet tooth, you should try tart cherries or tart cherry juice. Both of these assist with melatonin production and contain vitamin C. You can use the tart cherries to make yourself a delicious snack – add in some yoghurt or even a banana and you have got yourself a small dessert.
A few more suggestions are marmite on toast, white meats (salmon, cod, turkey) for your last meal of the day or almonds, which all induce sleep.
Again, no nighttime snack is the best option but there are choices if you find yourself getting peckish after dinner.
To conclude, bananas have their benefits and can definitely be a choice for a restful slumber. Pair it with Greek yoghurt and you have got the perfect evening snack.
It is important to think about what you are consuming during the day and especially before bed as it can cause sleep disturbances. For example, caffeine blocks adenosine (a naturally occurring chemical) which amasses during the day to promote sleepiness by the evening. Having certain food or drinks can stop this process and stops your body from preparing for a quality sleep cycle.
Overall, how do a banana and sleep go together? Bananas can help you get a night of healthy sleep and prevent sleep disruptions.