Grabbing a banana as a midmorning snack won't likely have you nodding off at your desk, but munching on one at bedtime can improve the quality of your sleep. The minerals and amino acids in a banana help relax your body. Pairing your evening banana with another sleep-inducing food provides even greater benefits.
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Potassium and Sleep
Bananas are packed with potassium, a mineral that serves as a muscle relaxant, which can help your body feel ready to fall asleep. One large banana contains 487 milligrams of potassium, roughly 10 percent of the adequate intake of this mineral for adults.
Source of Magnesium
Another valuable mineral prevalent in bananas is magnesium. Like potassium, magnesium helps relax your muscles, making magnesium-rich foods valuable as sleep aids. One large banana has 37 milligrams of magnesium. This amount accounts for about 12 percent of the adequate intake for women and about 9 percent for men.
Sleepy Tryptophan and Melatonin
Bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that's valuable in your effort to get to sleep. Tryptophan converts to serotonin, a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter, and is the cause of the post-Thanksgiving "turkey fog" you might experience. The fruit is also a source of melatonin, which is often known as the "sleep hormone." In a small study of adults, blood levels of melatonin rose significantly about two hours after eating a banana, according to research published in the Journal of Pineal Research. As melatonin levels increase, you begin to feel drowsy, which may help you fall asleep.
Bananas and Warm Milk
Wash your evening banana snack down with a glass of warm milk to increase your likelihood of having a sound sleep. Milk is another source of tryptophan, which provides a boost of serotonin that can make you feel ready for bed. Both the banana and milk are rich in carbohydrates, which help promote sleep. The combination of a banana and a glass of warm milk is far more effective than sipping a glass of wine. Alcohol before bed can lead to lighter sleep.
- Forbes: 5 Surprising Foods That Help You Sleep
- Health: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Best Health: 10 Ways to Achieve Deep Sleep
- National Sleep Foundation: Melatonin and Sleep
- U.S. News & World Report: Sleep-Promoting (and Sleep-Stealing) Foods
- Journal of Pineal Research: Serum Melatonin Levels and Antioxidant Capacities After Consumption of Pineapple, Orange, or Banana by Healthy Male Volunteers