Updated November 23, 2020Bananas are often praised for being packed with potassium and other health-promoting nutrients. However, many people don’t know that these fibrous fruits are also some of the best bedtime snacks for boosting sleep. Bananas are even on our list of the best fruits and vegetables for sleep!How do bananas help sleep? Aside from high potassium levels, bananas are rich in protein, magnesium, and vitamin B6. These nutrients work together to produce the sleep hormones melatonin and serotonin, helping you drift off.In this article, we explain how bananas improve sleep quality and discuss other foods to help you get better sleep. We also review the main foods to avoid before bedtime, too.1. Boosts Melatonin and SerotoninBananas contain an essential amino acid called tryptophan, proven to promote sleep. Our bodies cannot produce tryptophan alone, so we have to consume it via foods like bananas. You may already associate tryptophan with turkeys and the drowsy feeling you experience after a big turkey dinner.Once tryptophan reaches the brain, it produces serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that slows down messages to nerve cells, promoting relaxation. Additionally, serotonin regulates melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone responsible for controlling your circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle.2. Muscle Relaxing Potassium Fights Against CrampsBananas are an excellent source of potassium, making them a go-to choice for fighting muscle cramps. Low potassium levels can make your muscles stiff, causing spasms or cramps to interrupt a good night’s rest.These cramps are extremely uncomfortable and make it harder for you to fall asleep after they occur. Luckily, adding more potassium into your diet helps your body stop and start muscle contractions more effectively, preventing spasms from waking you up.3. Eating Bananas Can Lower Blood PressureAnother benefit of the potassium in bananas is reduced blood pressure. Stress typically causes high blood pressure, and being sleep deprived can raise blood pressure to a concerning level. Potassium lowers blood pressure by easing the tension in your blood vessels and improving blood circulation.Consuming a fruit loaded with potassium reduces pressure on the kidneys and flushes extra sodium out of your system. According to the FDA, this reduces the risk of high blood pressure and prevents heart disease and stroke.4. Eases Anxiety & StressThe magnesium in bananas has been linked to reduced levels of anxiety and stress. Magnesium affects the hypothalamus, the section of the brain responsible for controlling the adrenal and pituitary glands.When our magnesium levels are too low, these glands can increase the stress hormones. The added stress leaves us anxious or uneasy.Additonally, magnesium aids sleep by maintaining GABA levels (Gamma-Aminobytric acid). GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for slowing brain waves and calming the body. Stress and anxiety are frequently connected to sleep disorders like insomnia, so snacking on a banana might be exactly what you need to decompress before bed.Other Foods for Better SleepBananas are not the only healthy option you can choose for better sleep. There are several other foods and drinks proven to enhance sleep quality. Below, we list a couple of other foods you can try.Lean White MeatsEating lean white meats like salmon, cod, and turkey can be a great way to induce sleep. They all contain vitamins and minerals to enhance your rest and prevent sleep disturbances. Like bananas, lean turkey and fatty fish contain a high amount of tryptophan, the amino acid with powerful sleep-inducing effects.Not to mention, lean meats also contain vitamin D, a nutrient important for regulating serotonin and sleep. Though lean white meats enhance sleep, it is important to eat your dinner at least three hours before bed. Avoiding late dinners prevents stomach aches and acid reflux.Fiber-Filling Fruits and VegetablesFruits and veggies are an excellent nighttime snack. They are filled with nutrients like fiber to keep you full throughout the night.Adding extra fiber is beneficial for sleepers. A recent study shows diets lacking fiber are associated with lighter and less restorative sleep. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for sleep include:Dark leafy greensSweet potatoesCarrotsCherriesAvocadosMangosHerbal TeasHerbal teas such as chamomile, valerian root, and lavender are natural sleep aids, making them a popular nighttime beverage. Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine, so you won’t have to worry about struggling to fall asleep after drinking them.Certain herbal teas induce sleepiness by calming your nerves and reducing anxiety. Their herbs contain the antioxidant apigenin. This antioxidant binds to specific receptors in your brain, decreasing anxiety and initiating sleep.Foods to Avoid Before BedJust as some foods enhance sleep, there are also foods you should avoid before bedtime. Eating greasy food or snacks high in sugar can cause major sleeping interruptions and make it difficult to wind down at night. We’ll go into detail about some foods you should stay away from at night.Spicy and Fatty FoodsEating fatty foods before bed like pizza and creamy pasta is never a good idea. These foods cause indigestion or nighttime heartburn, keeping you from nodding off. Heavy foods are especially hard to digest, so you’ll likely have trouble falling to sleep or wake up to stomach pains or cramping.In addition to greasy food, stay away from foods that are too spicy. Eating spicy foods right before bed can cause indigestion and discomfort, making restorative sleep nearly impossible. Spicy foods may also cause body temperature to rise, causing night sweats and poor sleep.If you cannot resist eating a greasy burger and fries, it’s best to eat them as early as possible to prevent sleep disruptions.Caffeinated DrinksWe all enjoy a caffeinated pick-me-up from time to time. However, consuming caffeine too late in the day impacts your sleep quality. In other words, drinking that late afternoon coffee may leave you struggling to fall asleep.Caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours, so you should avoid drinking energy drinks, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages for at least seven hours before bed. It’s best to stick with decaf coffee during the middle of the day to curb coffee cravings without the buzz.For more information, check out our guide “How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?”Sugary Drinks and SnacksIt’s no secret—energy drinks and sodas are loaded with sugar and are not the best bedtime beverage. Even fruit juice contains tons of sugar that interfere with sleep. Not only does the extra sugar make it difficult to fall asleep, but it can also cause muscle tension and cramps, namely if you struggle with diabetes.FAQSCan eating bananas at night contribute to weight gain?Eating a single banana can be a healthy snack. However, if you add three large bananas to your diet per day, you’ll be eating more than 350 extra calories. A large amount of calories can cause weight gain. Additionally, bananas are fairly high in sugar and thus become body fat quicker than other fruits.Is it okay to snack late at night?While we do not recommend late-night snacking on greasy, fatty foods, it is also never a good idea to go to bed hungry. Going to sleep on an empty stomach can keep you awake with hunger pangs, resulting in an unsuccessful night’s sleep. Instead, tide yourself over with a banana or another healthy late night snack, such as crackers or nuts.What fruits should I avoid at night?Avoid fruits high in sugar and low in fiber, such as mangoes and watermelon, before bed. High sugar fruits, similar to soda and candy, can raise your blood sugar. High blood sugar levels may lead to muscle cramps, making it difficult to sleep.How much sugar do bananas contain?One banana contains 15 grams of all-natural sugar and 0 grams of added sugars. These naturally occurring sugars digest slowly and provide antioxidants, unlike the refined sugars found in junk foods.However, dietitians recommend you eat bananas in moderation. Excessively eating bananas can contribute to weight gain and high blood sugar. So if, for example, you have a banana earlier in the day as a pre workout snack, you might want to eat something else before bed.What drinks help induce sleep?Herbal teas are a popular bedtime beverage because many herbs can reduce anxiety and stress. A favorite for sleep is chamomile tea, as it contains a sedative element called apigenin. This natural compound works to wave off chaotic thoughts, helping you fall into a deep sleep.Other herbal teas for better sleep include:Passionflower lemon balm teaPeppermint teaLavender teaConclusionBananas are an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6. Munching on a banana before bed can help reduce stress, and you may be able to fall asleep faster. Plus, bananas are great for preventing muscle cramps and spasms while asleep.Though bananas are a nutritious snacks, you should always eat them in moderation. This prevents an unhealthy increase in blood sugar. If you have a banana as a healthy snack at work, then consider something else before bed.You also don’t have to eat just raw bananas. For example, while our Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal is meant as a healthy breakfast treat, you can easily repurpose it as a nighttime snack. Other ideas include slices of banana with Greek yogurt or a bedtime fruit smoothie.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.