By Leslie Finlay
They’re often a breakfast or lunchtime food to help fuel your day…but what about pairing a banana with your favorite bedtime tea? For anyone who goes bananas for this vitamin-packed powerhouse in a peel, here’s a great reason to consider enjoying a banana in the evening: bananas may help you get a better, deeper night’s rest, thanks to this fruit’s unique cocktail of sleep-promoting nutrients.
Bananas help a happy gut, which makes for a good night’s sleep
First up, bananas are a potent source of prebiotics. These plant fibers feed the healthy bacteria in your gut, promoting everything from better gastrointestinal health to improved brain function.
But bananas are also natural stress busters, according to 2017 research published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. It’s been shown that diets rich in prebiotics can help keep symptoms like stomach problems at bay during stressier times (say, during academic exams or a heavy project at work—read The Banana Health Benefit You for Sure Weren’t Aware Of, Dietitians Reveal).
But also, the study found that prebiotics’ impact on stress sticks with you overnight, enhancing the quality of your sleep, encouraging a restful sleep cycle, and alleviating stress-induced sleep disturbances.
How bananas switch on your sleep hormone
Certain nutrients found in bananas also work to prepare your body for a deep, restorative sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid the human body needs to make melatonin, the hormone that helps us lull off to sleep—and there’s plenty of it in bananas. Tryptophan-containing foods have been shown to improve almost all measures of sleep quality, according to 2020 research published in Nutrients. And while scientists know that the vitamin B6 found in bananas helps tryptophan produce melatonin, the two may also work together to reduce nighttime awakenings, according to a clinical trial published in Minerva Pediatrics.
The sleep-promoting mineral most of us are missing
It’s reported that about 60 percent of us aren’t eating enough magnesium—and a review of studies published in Nutrients added another banana benefit to address this problem. The research showed that low levels of magnesium may play a role in sleep disorders.
With almost 10 percent of your daily magnesium requirement available in a banana, tucking into one before bed may help you work toward this target. (https://www.thehealthy.com/nutrition/bananas-sleep/)