Put Down Your Coffee and Check Out Arianna Huffington’s 7 Nutrition Tips for Better Sleep

Photo: Courtesy of Bose; Graphic: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals.

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.

Tips on nutrition for better 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 smoothie 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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