What do you, a banana and a good night’s sleep have in common? Well, according to The Sleep Charity, *quite* a lot.
As it turns out, chowing down on some fruit before bed has topped the list of things we should be doing to improve our sleep.
Dr. Michael Breus, who is also known as the sleep doctor on TikTok, explained to HuffPost earlier this year that when it comes to snacking before bed, eating bananas could in fact help you fall asleep fast.
“Bananas are called ‘nature’s sleeping pill’ as they’re loaded with magnesium,” Breus says.
Meanwhile, sleep expert Rob Hobson explains that eating a balanced diet can help support your gut health, which can, in turn, improve sleep quality.
“The quality of your sleep can also be directly influenced by the type of foods you choose to eat. Therefore, it’s particularly important to eat the right foods if you’re struggling to sleep,” Hobson says.
It was reported on Sky News that the humble banana is packed with particularly high levels of magnesium and potassium, which are known to help relax weary muscles and help you drift off.
They’re also filled with brain-calming amino acid tryptophan.
Hobson also told HuffPost that eating bananas as part of a balanced diet can support your gut health, which can, in turn, improve sleep quality.
“The quality of your sleep can also be directly influenced by the type of foods you choose to eat. Therefore, it’s particularly important to eat the right foods if you’re struggling to sleep,” Hobson said.
Don’t like bananas? Don’t worry. Fruit (of any kind) can help produce melatonin, a hormone that the body makes to help us sleep.
So, if you’re a fan of grapes, cherries and strawberries — then you’re in luck because these fruits are the best sources of melatonin. And, while fruit is a deliciously sweet way to ensure a restful night’s slumber, there are other ways you can pack in the z’s.
Hobson says that magnesium is another source we should be tapping into if we want quality sleep. “The mineral is present in dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Tryptophan helps to make melatonin - the sleep hormone - in the brain. It is found in oily fish, chicken, tofu, beans, and oats,” Hobson said.
The Sleep Charity also recommends picking on almonds, eating fish and wholegrain cereals, as well as oatcakes and cheese. Though the latter might give you interesting dreams.
While it’s important not to go to bed on an empty stomach, having something light before bed is, as eating a large meal can cause digestive discomfort like indigestion, acid reflux and more. And, steering clear of spicy food is also advisable if you want tummy upset or a disturbed night’s sleep.
The survey also advises to cut down or cut out high-carb foods like bread, rice and pasta before bed as these can stimulate acid production, keeping you up longer.
But it isn’t only the foods we eat which can shape our sleep quality. Healthy lifestyle choices, like regular exercise, low screen time and calming self care practices — like a warm bath before bed all add a little something to the sleep pot.
The Sleep Charity’s deputy CEO, Lisa Artis, said: “Sleep is hugely important to leading a healthier and happier life, and we want everyone to share that sentiment and understand the importance of sleep as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
“Building a good sleep routine, and sticking to it, will help increase positivity and reduce levels of stress, meaning people can start the New Year feeling refreshed.”