Expert Reveals The One Food That Will Improve Your Sleep
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A healthy diet is essential for improving your sleep quality and overall health. Sleep expert Jasmin Lee from Eachnight.com
reveals how bananas can help you get a good night’s sleep.
How do bananas help with sleep?
Bananas are well known for being packed with potassium along with being rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, and protein. These nutrients help to produce sleep hormones serotonin and melatonin which help you doze off.
How do bananas boost sleep hormones?
An essential amino acid called tryptophan is found in bananas and has been found to improve sleep quality. Our bodies are unable to produce tryptophan, so having a banana helps to boost levels of the amino acid.
Tryptophan helps to produce serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation by slowing down messages to nerve cells. Serotonin also helps regulate melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone that controls our circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle.
What are the benefits of potassium?
With bananas being one of the best sources of potassium, it is worth noting how potassium benefits the body.
One way is by helping to relax your muscles. When you have low levels of potassium, your muscles become stiff which causes muscle cramps and spasms, disturbing a good night’s rest. The cramps are very uncomfortable, which will make it harder to fall asleep. The extra potassium from eating a banana helps to stop and start muscle contractions effectively, lowering the risk of spasms and cramps keeping you awake.
Another benefit is lower blood pressure. Stress can cause high blood pressure, along with a lack of sleep. Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels and improving blood circulation. Consuming potassium also lowers pressure on your kidneys and helps to flush out extra sodium out of your body. This reduces the risk of high blood pressure, preventing strokes and heart disease.
How does magnesium help with sleep?
Magnesium is found in bananas and has been found to reduce anxiety and stress levels.
Magnesium affects the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls the pituitary and adrenal glands. When magnesium levels are low, these glands increase the stress hormones, which makes people feel anxious. Stress and anxiety are often associated with sleep disorders like insomnia, so a banana might be the perfect snack to help calm down before going to sleep.
Also, magnesium helps to maintain the GABA levels (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is the neurotransmitter that slows down the brain waves and calms the body.
Can eating bananas at night contribute to weight gain?
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Having one banana is a healthy snack. But if you were to eat three large bananas a day, then that means you’re having an extra 350 calories per day. This increase in calories can lead to weight gain. Furthermore, bananas have a high amount of sugar, which becomes body fat faster than other fruits.
How much sugar do bananas contain?
A banana contains 15 grams of natural sugar. These natural sugars digest slowly, providing antioxidants.
However, it is recommended by dietitians to eat bananas in moderation. Consuming a large number of bananas can contribute to high blood sugar and weight gain.
Is it okay to snack late at night?
It isn’t recommended to eat greasy foods late at night, but it is also a bad idea to go to bed on an empty stomach. Going to sleep hungry can keep you awake at night due to hunger pains. Instead, we recommend having a healthy late-night snack like a banana or nuts.
What other foods can help with sleep?
Lean white meats like turkey, cod, and salmon are great options as they also contain the amino acid tryptophan that helps induce sleep. Along with containing vitamin D, which also helps regulate serotonin.
Other fruits and vegetables that are full of fibre are excellent late-night snack. The extra fibre is very beneficial, as shown by a recent study where they found a diet with a low amount of fibre is linked to lighter and less restorative sleep.
Herbal teas like lavender, chamomile, and valerian root are great natural sleep aids. Majority of herbal teas don’t have caffeine, which means you don’t worry about struggling to fall asleep after drinking one. Certain herbal teas contain the antioxidant apigenin which helps to reduce anxiety and fall asleep faster.
What foods should I avoid?
Spicy and fatty foods definitely need to be avoided. Both of these cause indigestion and nighttime heartburn, which make it very hard to fall asleep at night.
Caffeinated drinks should also be avoided later in the day. This is because caffeine can stay in your body for up to eight hours, which would make you struggle to fall asleep.
You should avoid fruits that have high sugar and low fibre before bed, such as watermelons and mangoes. These high sugar fruits can raise your blood sugar, which may lead to muscle cramps and make it difficult to sleep.