Bedtime Behaviors That Work: 7 Habits That Will Prepare Your Body for Sleep

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7. Limit evening food and drinks

A large meal or spicy snack too close to bedtime can leave your digestive system working overtime while the rest of your body lies awake. And alcohol with dinner—or as a nightcap—may make you drowsy, but it will disrupt your sleep patterns later in the night and keep you from getting the deep, restorative REM sleep you need to feel refreshed.

If you drink a lot of any liquid before bed, for that matter, you may be up throughout the night using the bathroom. “Most adults middle-age and older have to get up at night for this reason,” says William C. Dement, MD, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and author of The Promise of Sleep, “but restricting fluids before bed can help.” (A side note: If you do get up often, install a dim red bulb in your bathroom; it’s less stimulating than bright white light and won’t disrupt the flow of melatonin in your brain.)

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