Eat to sleep better

4 ways your food and drink choices can affect how well you sleep

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1. Drink water

Or juice. Or decaffeinated diet soda. Drink anything but coffee, hot chocolate or tea within six to 10 hours of bed. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical produced by your brain that makes you sleepy. In fact, studies have shown that the caffeine in even one cup will rev your circuits enough to reduce both the length and restorative depths of sleep. It will also wake you during the night to urinate.

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2. Skip the nightcap

Even if you’re a charter member of Divas Uncorked or Sisters Who Sip, you really need to limit alcohol to an afternoon libation, not an after-dinner or before-bed nightcap. Despite its reputation, alcohol sipped at these later times keeps you in the lighter, less restorative stages of sleep in which you’re likely to wake if the dog so much as turns over in his bed.

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3. Think rice for dinner

Although a well-balanced diet throughout the day is necessary to produce the neurochemicals your brain needs to function efficiently, researchers conducting a study at the University of Sydney in New South Wales discovered that eating a high-carbohydrate meal four hours before bed-jasmine rice, in this case-can cut the time it takes to fall asleep in half.

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4. Slip to sleep with a cookie and milk

The tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy, but you need some carbs to get it where you want it to go in your brain, says Mary Susan Esther, M.D. Cookies are her carb of choice.

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