Is It Bad To Eat Fruit At Night?
So, you’ve had dinner, and you’re sat on the sofa thinking about what you can have next… you’re not actually hungry, but you just really want something sweet to seal the deal. We’ve all been there.
Opting for fresh fruit is a great alternative to raiding that cupboard where the biscuits and chocolate live, right? You’re cutting out the saturated fats and gaining a load of super-essential vitamins instead.
This is true for the most part, however, it can be easy to overlook that most fruits also come with a high sugar content too. The average orange contains around 9g, the average pear has 13g, a medium-sized apple has 16g, and a medium-sized banana can have 18g of sugar!
The fibre in fruit can help slow down the rate at which your body processes these sugars though, as it slows carbohydrate digestion, as well as glucose absorption. This can help to reduce the amount of insulin that your pancreas produces in response to having a raised blood sugar level, which reduces the risk of insulin resistance – this can lead to type 2 diabetes. Insulin is also responsible for stimulating the conversion of excess glucose into fatty acids, which are then stored in tissues.
So, even though fruit isn’t perhaps as innocent as some people might think, it’s fair to say that it’s still very much a healthier alternative to processed carbs and sugary treats (there’s no need to bin that fruit bowl).
It is worth noting that eating a lot of it can be bad for your dental health – the high sugar content promotes tooth decay, and the acidity of citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges can erode tooth enamel over time.
Plus, if you suffer from acid reflux or IBS, eating fruit, especially citrus fruit, just before bed might not be such a good option as it’s likely to cause stomach upset.
Do Bananas Help You Sleep?
Many people think of bananas as a good midday snack or pre-workout pick-me-up, so surely they aren’t great to have before you’re about to go to bed?
A lot of athletes choose to have a banana before and/or after a workout as they’re a source of complex carbohydrates and natural sugars – meaning they provide both sustained and quick-release energy.
They help keep your brain active and functioning too, as the natural sugar found in bananas – fructose, is used by your body to produce glucose, which is your brain’s main source of fuel. This sounds a lot more like a wakeup call, than a soothing bedtime snack…
Well, maybe not. Here are four reasons why bananas can in fact help you sleep:
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, as is common knowledge in the playground when you’re warned not to eat too many in case you become radioactive (just to confirm, you’d have to eat a stupid amount of bananas in one sitting to reach toxic levels of potassium). Not only is potassium a vital nutrient that your body needs for many important functions, but it’s a natural muscle relaxant. It’s also been shown to help lessen the symptoms of the sleep disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome.
Bananas also contain magnesium, which is another natural muscle relaxant.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s found in bananas – it has a natural sedative effect as it’s converted to 5-HTP in the brain, which is then converted to serotonin, a relaxing neurotransmitter that plays a role in your sleep cycle.
Just one of the essential vitamins in bananas, Vitamin B6 is needed to make melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles.
So really, it could be worth unpeeling one of these guys if you’re finding it hard to get to sleep!
Other Foods To Eat Or Avoid Before Bed
We’re giving bananas the green light – but what else are known to be good or bad late night snacks? Check out below to get your pre-sleep routine right.
What To Have
Milk – a glass of milk is a classic bedtime beverage, and for good reason – it contains the amino acid tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin production.
Turkey – another good source of tryptophan… which helps to explain why you’re always so sleepy after a Christmas dinner.
Sweet potatoes – these are a source of complex carbs, which take longer for the body to break down, and so can help to prevent blood sugar spikes or dips – which can interfere with sleep. Also, like bananas, they contain potassium which is a natural muscle relaxant.
What To Avoid
Alcohol – even though it can make you feel tired, drinking alcohol can actually result in poor quality of sleep and make you much more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. It also makes you much more likely to snore, so if you’re sharing a bed with anyone… it’ll ruin their night’s sleep too.
Fatty foods – eating fat stimulates the production of stomach acid, which can cause heartburn and indigestion, especially if you eat very soon before you lie down.
Caffeine – quite an obvious one, but having a coffee or tea before bed is going to keep you up longer as caffeine’s a stimulate. Depending on your tolerance, you might even find that having caffeine in the afternoon can affect your sleep later on in the evening.
Dark chocolate – not so obvious, you might think you’re being healthier by opting for a higher cocoa percentage, but dark chocolate actually has a higher caffeine content.
Take Home Message
Now that you’re a bit more aware of what nutrients can help or hinder your sleep, it should be easier to make informed choices when it comes to late night snacking. Check out the recipes below to make the most of your bananas: