Sweet, colorful, and a favourite fruit of many, you can’t go wrong with eating papaya. They’re not just tasty too. Eating papaya before bed can help you sleep and give you a number of health benefits as well. We explain how, right here.
Eating Papaya before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Although eaten around the globe for generations, it’s only recently that we’re discovering that eating papaya before bed may actually benefit sleep.
That’s because papaya is a great source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin. Therefore eating papaya before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Tryptophan also helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce that all-important sleep hormone – melatonin!
It doesn’t end there either. Papaya is a good source of magnesium and folate. Why’s that notable? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
Whilst folate – also known as Vitamin B9 – tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating papaya could help sleep quality.
Eating papaya before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps produce the sleep hormone melatonin – as well as magnesium and folate. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep.
Eating papaya before bed: What are the HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable fruit is also an anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
The anti-inflammatory nature of papaya has been studied before, and is important to note as many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like papaya or walnuts – is a no-brainer.
In particular, papaya contains an anti-inflammatory compound called papain which has been shown to be as strong an anti-inflammatory as some drugs on the market. Subsequently studies have seen promising signs that papaya is anti-cancer, and could be beneficial for those with cardiovascular disease.
Papaya is also a great source of antioxidants. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like papaya or grapes – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. One study made clear that papaya has ‘high antioxidant capacity’ and might be a candidate for treatment options for ‘oxidative-related diseases’. Whilst another saw potential in papaya for ‘repairing mechanisms’ that have been linked to Alzheimer’s.
Papaya has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown papaya to have a positive effect on health, potentially protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Papaya for sleep and overall health: Incorporating it into your diet
Papaya can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. They are delicious and can be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many different ways to incorporate papaya into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for yoghurt, as part of a fruit salad, in a salsa, or even roasted!
Eating papaya before bed: What about side effects?
If you don’t have a papaya allergy then moderate consumption of papaya shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating papaya in excess could lead to side effects like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Eating unripe papaya is to be avoided, as doing so can cause side effects such as damage to the esophagus.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.