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Nutrition

Diet Changes to Help You Sleep

Even a relaxing evening routine could be affecting your sleep.

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Some nights you know exactly why you can’t sleep: Maybe you’re feeling stressed out over something that happened at work that day or you get sucked into a Stranger Things marathon. But other nights, it can be hard to put your finger on why you aren’t drifting off. In those cases, it might have to do with what you drank and ate that day. Here are some surprising connections between food, drink, and sleep—and advice on how you can tweak your habits to snooze like a baby.

• Nix the nightcap. Here’s the tricky thing about alcohol: It can make it easier for you to fall asleep, but harder to stay that way. Booze can cause you to wake up more often as the night goes on, contributing to that groggy feeling in the morning. 

• Eat dinner earlier. The later you sit down for supper, the more food will still be in your stomach when you get into bed. And getting horizontal in that state can cause acid reflux—a painful condition that makes it hard to fall asleep. The ideal time for dinner? Two to three hours before bedtime.

• Switch from an afternoon coffee to herbal tea. Half the caffeine from your 4:00 p.m. latte is still in your system at 9:00 p.m. That can keep you alert when you should be shutting down. Instead, sip on a hot herbal tea, which is naturally caffeine-free.

• Cut down on fatty foods. Researchers have found that people who eat more fat are sleepier throughout the day.

• Stop late-night sipping. Staying hydrated is important, but continuing to drink water right up until bedtime can cause you to wake up for a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip. A good rule of thumb is to stop drinking beverages around two hours before bedtime.