6 pm: Do dinner right
A person's evening meal can have a powerful influence on how she sleeps, says Chin Moi Chow, Ph.D., a senior sleep lecturer at The University of Sydney in Australia. Serve up these strategies tonight:
- Try a mild menu: When eaten late in the day, acidic and heavily spiced dishes can cause sleep-disrupting acid reflux. Save the bold flavors for lunch.
- Keep it light: The work of digesting an extra-large meal can make sleep less restorative, says registered dietitian Ashley Koff, author of Mom Energy (Hay House). Several hours before bedtime, enjoy a balanced moderate combo that includes one serving each of carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat, plus a few servings of nonstarchy vegetables.
- Nibble a roll: In a study led by Chow, people whose dinners included quick-digesting carbohydrates, such as white bread, fell asleep more quickly than people in a control group. Such foods raise blood levels of tryptophan, a precursor of sleep-promoting melatonin.
- Limit wine to one glass: Despite a reputation for making people groggy, alcohol can cause overnight wakefulness as its sedative effects wear off. Try to avoid getting a buzz.