When it comes to the way our eating habits impact our ability to sleep well, some facts seem fairly obvious—we know to avoid caffeine several hours beforehand, for example, and that sugar (and alcohol) can certainly interfere with quality shut-eye. In general, eating anything right before tucking yourself in is also a no-go, since you hardly want your digestive system to be churning full steam ahead while drifting off to dreamland.
But sleep nerds that we are, even we were fairly surprised to learn that a certain variety of "healthy" food might also be worth limiting in the hours leading up to bedtime. Nada Milosavljevic, MD, JD, a Harvard-trained physician who specializes in a combination of Eastern and Western medicine, tells Brit + Co that eating anything too high in protein shortly before turning in can also disrupt sleep.
The reasoning is that it takes a lot out of your gut to digest protein-packed foods when you should be devoting as much energy as possible to full-body restoration. "It takes a lot of digestive power to break down that food, and your digestive juices are activated," she explains to the site. "Your GI tract requires energy and is fully engaged in the process, which requires blood flow to be directed to that part of the body."
On the flip side, there's no need to avoid protein later in the day altogether—in fact, research shows that eating a meal that's rich in protein a few hours before bed can actually boost those sleepy feelings. Timing really is everything.
Our tip: Fill up on a protein-packed dinner on the earlier side of the evening and stick with a sleep supplement or chamomile tea (like the one above) just before bed. These foods will help contribute to great shut-eye as well.
Next, find out the best conditions for a great night's sleep, from room temperature to the cleanliness of your bedroom (yes, really).