Looking for a superfood to inspire a great night's sleep? Look no further than the bananas sitting on your kitchen counter.
Surprised? I was too.
When I eat a banana, it's usually in the morning with a smoothie or sliced on top of an açaí bowl. But the trick is to eat bananas at night, ideally one to two hours before bed to give you time to digest. The nutrients in bananas help increase REM sleep, or the dream stage in our sleep cycle. This is one of the most important stages of sleep, and it really cleans out all the cobwebs we accumulate during the day.
So why do bananas help you catch up on zzz's? Here are a few of the fruit's sleep-inducing properties:
1. They're full of magnesium.
Most people are deficient in magnesium and don't even realize it. (I highly recommend getting your levels checked by your doctor.) The most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are slow digestion, nighttime leg cramping, and trouble relaxing during sleep. But fear not: Bananas are packed with more magnesium than almost any other fruit.
Other sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and Brazil nuts.
2. They're rich in potassium.
This powerhouse superfood takes care of many of our nutritional needs. Potassium complements magnesium to improve sleep by promoting healthy digestion and regulating blood pressure. Your blood pressure should normally "dip" a little at night and this is the sign of a healthy heart. Low levels of potassium may contribute to muscle fatigue and heart irregularities.
Other sources of potassium include dulse, avocado, broccoli, and cremini mushrooms.
3. They can boost your tryptophan levels.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and a precursor to serotonin and melatonin—both essential for a healthy night's sleep. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that controls mood while melatonin regulates our circadian rhythm, which influences which hormones we produce throughout the day and night.
Other sources of tryptophan include chia seeds, sweet potatoes, almonds, and leafy greens.