I thought I had bananas all figured out. They’re delicious in banana walnut muffins, stirred into yogurt with a drizzle of honey, or dried for an on-the-go snack. But banana tea for sleep? Is that really a thing?
Yep, because bananas are so much weirder than they seem. First of all, they don’t even grow on trees. Banana plants are actually tree-like perennial herbs, and the banana itself is considered a berry. (1)
Also, the peels we’ve been throwing away all these years? Totally valuable. In fact, from now on I might start throwing away the bananas and keeping the peels for tea. (Not really, but that’s how crazy throwing away the peels sounds to me now.)
So, what’s special about banana peel tea?
When taken about an hour before bed, banana tea can help calm the nervous system and help the body prepare for deep sleep.
That’s because banana peels contain potassium and magnesium, which are both natural muscle relaxants. (2) Magnesium is often called “magic mineral” because it also helps with hormone balance, stress support, detoxification and more. (Read more about the benefits of magnesium here.)
They also contain “the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn is converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin,” aka the sleep hormone. (2) Although I don’t recommend regularly supplementing with melatonin directly, I think it’s a great idea to supply the body with all the materials it needs to make its own.
Oh, and one more thing – bananas are rich in antioxidants like lutein, which helps to protect the eyes and skin from ultra-violet light. (3, 4) Some antioxidants like vitamin C are heat sensitive and break down when exposed to boiling water. Fortunately, lutein is heat stable and will still be present in the banana tea after the peels are boiled.
2 Ways To Make Banana Tea
Banana tea can be made two ways:
- Using the whole banana
- Just using the banana peel
Whole banana tea is naturally sweetened, which is nice. However, it does contain sugar that can raise blood glucose levels. I’m not agains sugar (hello paleo chocolate chip cookies!), but I do avoid consuming sugar just before bed as part of my intermittent fasting routine. If you’re not familiar with it, intermittent fasting has been shown to be helpful for activating cellular cleanup mode (autophaghy), longevity, immune function, metabolism and more. For that reason I personally use banana peel tea over whole banana tea.
My recipe below uses banana peels, either fresh or dried. However, if you want to try using the entire banana here’s what to do:
Cut off the ends of the banana and slice it into a few pieces. Place it in a small pot and cover it with water. Boil for 10 minutes, then strain the banana out with a colander and drink the tea.
Regardless of which method you try, I recommend opting for organic bananas because conventionally grown bananas are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Benefits of Using Fresh vs. Dried Banana Peels
I am not aware of any difference in nutritional composition between fresh and dried banana peels, so it really comes down to what’s most convenient for you. You can use a fresh banana peel and save the actual banana for the next day to make chocolate chip banana pancakes or another dessert.
Another option is to save banana peels when you’re making something (these chocolate banana bites maybe) by popping them in the freezer until you need them.
Personally, I like to dry the peels and then use them as a loose tea. It’s super easy as you’ll see in the next section.
How To Dry Banana Peels For Making Tea
If you have a dehydrator, just chop them up, place them in single layer, and dry at 155F for 6-8 hours. One banana peel usually makes about 3 tablespoons of dried peel, which is what I use to make a single cup of tea.
Want to use your oven instead? Preheat the oven to the lowest setting possible, which is usually around 170F. Chop up the peels and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Dry them for 2-3 hours, then flip them over and place them back in the oven until they’re dried through. It should be around 2-3 hours for the second drying session, which makes the total drying time around 4-6 hours.
Banana Tea Recipe for Restful Sleep
- Place peel, cinnamon stick (if using) and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out the peel. Add vanilla extract (if using) and sweetener if desired before serving.
Additional Tips For Getting Deeper, More Restful Sleep
- Wear orange glasses to encourage natural melatonin production
- Sleep on a comfortable, non-toxic mattress
- Rotate this tea with passionflower tea
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1. Pelletier, Tom. Is Banana A Fruit Or An Herb?
2. Haiken, Melanie. Forbes Magazine. 5 Surprising Foods That Help You Sleep
3. Subagio, A et. al. (1996) Carotenoids and their fatty acid esters in banana peels.
4. Roberts, RL et. al. (2009) Lutein and zeaxanthin in eye and skin health.