Need help catching those Zzz’s? Indulging in a banana before bedtime just may be insomnia’s sweetest antidote. We break down the tropical fruit's sleep-boosting powers below.
Bananas 'Tryp' Your Sleep Switch
The yellow fruit contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid (meaning, your body cannot produce it so it must be acquired from food) that helps your body produce serotonin — a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep.
"Serotonin may be the most important brain chemical because [it] is a natural anti-depressant and can treat anxiety and insomnia, as well as other mood issues such as fatigue, irritability, agitation, anger, and aggression," explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life.
Bananas Contain Mind-Soothing Melatonin
Tryptophan isn’t the only reason bananas will help you rest easy in the bedroom. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Pineal Research suggests that consuming melatonin-containing bananas correlates to an increase in serum melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Researchers discovered that consuming a banana juice extract — which was the equivalent of two peeled bananas — increased serum melatonin levels by 0.14 milligrams. In the past, MIT researchers have found that an increase of just 0.10 milligrams of melatonin can decrease the time it takes for insomniac subjects over 50 years old to fall asleep and helps them sleep through the night.
Bananas Are Full of Muscle-Relaxing Minerals
And, wait — there’s more! Nanners contain muscle-relaxing potassium and magnesium that’ll help you feel less tense and, consequently, finally knock out. Another sweet perk: magnesium helps your body burn fat — and so does slumber. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep-deprived folks ate an average of 365 more calories per day. "Our results highlight sleep as a potential third factor, in addition to diet and exercise, to target weight gain more effectively," Haya Al Khatib, the study’s lead author and PhD candidate at King's College London, explained. It seems like science agrees that hitting the sack a bit earlier can help mitigate midnight cravings.
So next time you find yourself tossing and turning rather than counting sheep, peel a banana instead of reaching for this Absolute Worst Food To Eat Before Bed.