Here’s a way to tell if you’re getting enough sleep: look at your scale. Not getting enough sleep makes it tougher to get to, or stay at, your ideal weight. There are several reasons for this. For a start, when you’re tired, you don’t tend to make the best (read: healthiest) decisions. You skip out on exercising. Eat whatever food’s quickest and easiest, particularly fast food or takeout—and in bigger portions than when you’re not tired. What’s more, lack of sleep creates an unhealthy vicious cycle—the more tired you are, the more caffeine you’ll end up taking in to stay awake. And we all know caffeine and sleep do not mix. Add this all up and you get statistics like, more than ⅓ of Americans don’t get enough sleep.
OK. You’re convinced getting enough sleep is key to having the mental clarity you need to make good decisions. But how do you do it? Luckily, the answers won’t require you to make radical life changes. Small tweaks will pay big dividends. Start by turning off your screens and devices at least an hour before bed. If you can stick to a schedule for getting up and going to bed, that’s an extra bonus.
Rituals are a great help. Think warm bath, good book or some meditation. Here’s another that isn’t just a good practice, it’s good nutrition. Milk contains several compounds known to reinforce healthy sleep cycles. There’s tryptophan, an amino acid found in a variety of protein-rich foods that plays an important role in producing the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Serotonin elevates your mood and helps you relax. As if that weren’t enough, Serotonin also assists the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin, AKA the sleep hormone, helps regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.
When it comes to sleep, milk is packed with some very hard-working compounds. Ironic, isn’t it?
If all this science has made you sleepy, take comfort in knowing that by drinking milk before bedtime, you’re heeding advice that worked for countless parents who simply wanted nothing more than for their kids to finally get to sleep.