Can we eat our way to better sleep? Not really, but we can eat our way to bad sleep. With food and drink and how it affects our sleep, knowing what to avoid is perhaps more important than what to take in. The obvious and all-too-common obstacle in the way of nutrition for better sleep is pin-balling between caffeine and sugar all day, leaving us tired but wired at night.
Caffeine is a stimulant that wakes us up or revives us during the day. And it works for that purpose; there’s a reason why “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” is practically our national refrain muttered (or at least thought) daily by heavy-lidded folks as they get out of bed and begin to brave the day. But a caffeine jolt (or cocktail, for that matter) late in the afternoon or in the evening can seriously disrupt our sleep.
A caffeine jolt (or cocktail, for that matter) late in the afternoon or in the evening can seriously disrupt our sleep.
That’s why this week’s tips focus on nutrition for better sleep. By empowering yourself to make healthy choices that fuel you throughout the day, you’ll set yourself up for a great night’s sleep.
22. Set a daily caffeine cutoff
Consumed too late in the day, caffeine can hinder our ability to fall asleep. So do your nighttime self a favor and switch to decaf after 2 p.m.
23. Swap the nightcap for a cup of tea you love (lavender, licorice, fennel)
Keep in mind that while alcohol initially acts as a sedative, later in the night and your sleep cycle, it becomes a sleep disrupter.
24. Ditch one sugary beverage a day and have water instead
Added sugar increases inflammation in our bodies, which can compromise our immune responses. To get your flavor fix, add a slice of lemon (or other fruit or vegetable) to plain water.
25. Have a healthy treat instead of one that’s loaded with added sugar
Task yourself with finding a delicious and satisfying snack that doesn’t pack in added sugar. Try a bowl of berries instead of a cinnamon bun, or a fruit smoothie instead of ice cream.
Need some inspiration? Try this coconut smoothing bowl from Maya Feller, RD:
26. Be kind to yourself when you go off course with food choices
Recognizing your disappointment without letting it define you will help you move on.
27. Before eating, allow yourself a moment of conscious breathing
When you take a moment to ask if the food you’ve chosen is worthy of you, you’ll savor it that much more.
28. Think about the times of day or situations in which you tend to make suboptimal food choices.
This simple reflection will help you devise a plan to make different food choices in those situations.
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