Emme Menopause

Sleep and the Menopause and Why Bananas Are a Great Food Choice For A Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to health and wellbeing and it is becoming increasingly recognised that what you eat has an important role in how you sleep and leading nutritionist, Sue Bedford tells us more.

Menopausal symptoms can vary from woman to woman throughout perimenopause and menopause

Sleep issues are common, with sleep disorders affecting 39 to 47 percent of perimenopausal women and 35 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women.

The most common sleep problems reported by women going through menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, snoring and sleep apnea and with a lack of sleep, it can cause or contribute to anxiety and depression.

Approaching menopause when a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, the lack of both can impact bodily processes that affect mood, appetite, sleep, sex drive, and more. For example, estrogen plays a role in the metabolism of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that affect our sleep-wake cycle and helps keep our body temperature low at night. With less estrogen, women may experience higher body temperatures – eg. night sweats and hence lower quality sleep and poorer mood.

Over the coming months, we will be taking a closer look at how foods can help improve menopause symptoms with some sleep friendly nutrition tips too.

So let’s start here with how and why bananas can aid sleep!

Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which help relax overstressed muscles and make them an ideal quick snack before bed. They also contain /vitamin B6 and fibre along with a super ingredient for sleep called Tryptophan. It’s an amino acid that helps to stimulate the production of important brain calming hormones, including serotonin.

Evidence has linked tryptophan containing foods with improved sleep, with less difficulty falling asleep and less waking at night.

So what is Tryptophan and how can it help us to sleep better?

Tryptophan (also known as L-tryprophan) is an important amino acid that functions as a natural mood regulator by assisting the body in producing and balancing key hormones.  It is considered “essential” because it is not produced by the body. Tryptophan must be obtained from dietary sources or supplementation.

Supplementing with tryptophan-rich foods or supplements aids in the production of natural calming effects, sleep induction, anxiety reduction, and fat burning.  5HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan) is a by-product of tryptophan that boosts sensations of well-being, connection, and safety in the brain and central nervous system. It accomplishes this by increasing the synthesis of serotonin, one of the body’s key feel-good hormones. 5-HTP also induces sleep by increasing melatonin, (the sleep hormone) which helps achieve a better sleep and wake cycle by synchronising your circadian rhythm, or internal clock.

The liver also uses tryptophan to make niacin (vitamin B3), which is required for energy metabolism and DNA synthesis.

So, eating a banana before bedtime could well help!

Try eating one a couple of hours before bedtime when you are starting to wind down.

Or why not try this fantastic bedtime banana smoothie!


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