Getting the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis can often be a challenge. The foods or drinks that you consume can also play a role in how good (or not-so-good) your night’s sleep is.
Try incorporating these eight strategies for a better night's sleep.
- Reconsider that nightcap. One drink with dinner is probably fine for most, but keep in mind that while alcohol may help you fall asleep; it can interfere with the quality of sleep that your body is getting.
- Ease up on caffeine. Limit your intake to no more than 300 milligrams daily, the equivalent of about three cups of regular brewed coffee, and try not to consume caffeine after 2 p.m.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime. An overly full belly can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- But don't go to bed hungry. Going to bed with a growling stomach or hunger pangs can make it hard to fall asleep as well. To reap maximum benefits of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help induce sleepiness, the best nighttime snack is one that contains a blend of carbs and protein: Peanut butter spread onto whole grain toast, a carton of plain lowfat Greek yogurt topped with a bit of fiber-rich cereal, or a few whole grain crackers with thinly-sliced cheese.
- Supplement wisely. Taking multivitamins close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep, possibly because of the B vitamins that most contain, which can help to provide energy to your body. Taking 500 mg of magnesium at bedtime may help with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Other supplements that may be effective in improving sleep quality and sleep patterns include melatonin (0.3 to 5 mg once daily at bedtime), or a combination of lemon balm extract (80 mg) and valerian root extract (160 mg) three times daily. As always, check with your physician or pharmacist before beginning any new supplement regime.
- Set a schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, trying to stay consistent even on weekends. Setting an alarm for the same time each evening can be a helpful reminder to start winding down and get ready for bed.
- Time your workouts right. Regular exercise (150 minutes a week) has been shown to improve sleep quality by 65 percent, but if it's too close to bedtime, it may interfere with sleep. Sleep experts typically recommend exercising at least three hours before bedtime to allow enough time for your body temperature to come down (cooler body temperatures are linked with falling asleep).
- Unplug. Minimize screen time, particularly in the hours before bedtime. The artificial light can interfere with our body's production of melatonin, a hormone (secreted especially in response to darkness) that helps to regulate our sleep patterns.
For more details on this topic, read Molly’s full article on Nola.com.