With so many distractions and busier-than-ever schedules, catching a quality night of sleep can seem almost impossible. We all know it’s important to hit that seven- to eight-hour sweet spot, but how? Here, nutritionists share their go-to tips and tricks for using their diets to sleep better. If you tend to spend the night tossing and turning, read up.
1. Cut caffeine After Noon
Kicking off your morning with a caffeinated beverage may seem harmless, but your java-filled afternoon pick-me-up may be messing with your snooze.
“Avoid caffeine after noon,” says dietitian Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D., A.T.C. “Caffeine has a half life of about six hours, so half that latte will still keep you buzzing at 6 o’clock, and the last quarter at midnight.” Instead, get mid-day energy naturally with a workout, meditation, or a glass of cold water.
And we’re not just talking about coffee. Avoid energizing supplements and other caffeinated drinks after lunch, too.
2. aVOID HIGH-FAT FOODS For Dinner
At dinner time, go easy on the fat and opt for healthy cooking methods like baking, grilling, or roasting.
“A high-fat meal, like a greasy hamburger and fries, will take several hours to work its way through your digestive system,” says White. “Taking gravity out of the picture by lying down makes this process more arduous.”
Focus on eating more lean proteins, veggies, and complex carbs, which are satisfying but easier on the belly.
3. Don’t Eat Right Before Bedtime
In addition to what you eat for dinner, when you eat your evening meal also affects your sleep. That’s why White recommends giving your body plenty of time to digest your dinner before you hit the hay.
“Give yourself at least three hours before lying down to prevent unwanted heartburn or digestive discomfort, which can certainly disrupt sleep,” she says.
4. Kick Up the calcium
Not only is calcium good for your bones and muscle recovery, but it also supports your body come bedtime.
“Calcium-rich foods like yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese promote the production of the relaxation- and sleep-promoting amino acid, tryptophan” White says.
For that reason, White likes incorporating calcium-rich food into her dinners or snacking on foods that contain calcium in the evening.
Enjoy breakfast for dinner with a cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, or sip some warm tea with milk in the evening.
5. Same Goes For Magnesium
Magnesium can help the body relax, making it easier to chill out when the sun goes down. “With its natural calming effect, magnesium helps bring me down from the stresses of the day,” says Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N., registered dietitian for The Vitamin Shoppe. “I find I have a deeper sleep and wake up feeling more rested on the nights I take it.”
Roseanne Schnell, C.D.N., nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe agrees. “Magnesium supports healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep,” she says.
Incorporate foods high in magnesium (nuts, seeds, avocados, or peanut butter) into your diet in the latter half of the day. Or, try a supplement like Natural Vitality’s Magnesium Glycinate Calm Capsules.
6. Drink Chamomile Tea
Sipping on a steaming cup of tea is a great nighttime ritual to help the body and mind wind down. Chamomile tea, in particular, is a calm-inducing option.
“Chamomile is well known for its relaxation properties,” says dietitian Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N. “I’ve never been someone who falls asleep easily, but a large mug of hot tea with relaxing herbs helps me wind down.”
7. Try CBD
Super-popular CBD is another go-to when it’s time to chill out at night. Jones personally recommends incorporating any form of CBD (such as tinctures, gummies, and capsules) into your relaxation routine. The Vitamin Shoppe offers a huge assortment of CBD from trusted brands at its CBD Central.
8. Get Acquainted With L-Theanine
L-theanine supports mental well-being by boosting calming brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, says Karen Cooney, M.A., C.N., C.H.H.C., nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. The amino acid is found in green and black tea, or you can find it in supplement form. Take up to 200mg per day.