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Nutrition

Why Banana Peel Tea May Help Improve Sleep

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Before you toss that banana peel, steep it in hot water.

photo of banana

For something so basic, sleep can be frustratingly hard to come by — which may explain why there are a host of remedies out there that promise to help you snooze. The latest sleep-improving trick has some science to back it up: Banana peel tea — made by steeping a banana peel in hot water —may contain nutrients that can help you nod off.

Bananas contain magnesium and potassium, two sleep-promoting electrolytes, which are also known as natural muscle relaxants, says Eliza Savage, RD, a dietitian in New York, NY.  In addition to those electrolytes, bananas also offer tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid found in foods like eggs, yogurt, and yes, turkey. “It’s the precursor to melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, and it can boost serotonin, which regulates your mood,” Savage explains.

Now, that’s the inside of the banana. The peels themselves also contain high concentrations of magnesium and potassium; Savage says, and that could potentially be all you need because of magnesium’s potential to have a positive effect on sleep.

In most cases, Savage recommends eating the whole banana, since it contains a variety of those sleep-inducing nutrients, but she doesn’t see much harm in having banana peel tea — especially if you want to be more sustainable. It’s important to note she doesn’t recommend it for those with kidney problems; for those folks, consuming foods high in potassium could cause build up in the blood and may lead to heart problems down the line.

If you’re going to try the tea, Savage says to opt for a ripe, organic banana and clean the peel first. Once you eat or freeze the banana itself (you can later use it in a smoothie), put at least half the banana peel into a mug and pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for about ten minutes before removing the peel. Feel free to add a slice or two of banana to liven up the flavor. You could also sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon to add a little spice to it.

While drinking banana peel tea may help you feel relaxed and ready for bed, it likely won’t aid your sleep if you’re binge-watching a new show until bedtime or eating a huge meal at 8 p.m. After all, good sleep hygiene is also essential for both falling and staying asleep. Set your alarm to wake up and fall asleep at the same times every day (in the evenings, you can consider it a reminder to get ready for bed); keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool; and stay away from using electronic devices near bedtime, as the blue light can inhibit sleep. (And here are more wellness rituals that lead to a good night’s sleep.)

So if you love bananas, there’s no harm in giving banana peel tea a try. Even if you don’t fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, the hot drink may make for a relaxing way to wind down.