This is it, you tell yourself. This is the week I'm finally getting my sleep back on track. But what happens when you go in on a Seamless dinner order with your roommates? Or you decide to stop at your favourite sushi place on the way to an exciting night on the couch with Netflix? You may not realise it, but your dinner choices can have a big impact on how easily you drift off to sleep later. Fried stuff, spicy food, and even red meat can actually make it likelier that you'll toss and turn.
The good news is that, according to Lisa Young, PhD, RD, CDN, adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt, you've got a lot of great options — some foods could even help you calm down and get to sleep faster. As she's told us before, "Food can absolutely help [your sleep], and it can absolutely hurt." So making the right meal choices can be the difference between waking up refreshed and spending the night tossing and turning.
In general, you're going to want to forgo the aforementioned fried foods, high spice levels, and red meat, as well as alcohol. All of these can negatively affect your body's natural falling-asleep processes. This is also one area where portion size really matters — it's basically impossible to get a good night's sleep when you're uncomfortably full. That means that mindful eating habits are especially important here, so do your best to eat without scrolling through Instagram or letting Netflix roll on autoplay — tune in to your hunger and fullness cues.
Instead, gravitate towards menu items that pair carbs (preferably whole grains) with a small amount of lean protein, such as fish or chicken. Some nutritious veggies and a little bit of tryptophan-rich dairy will help calm you down as well. And many fruits, nuts, and vegetables contain compounds — such as potassium and melatonin — that make it easier for your body to relax when you're ready to hit the hay.
Ahead, check out five examples of takeout meals that won't mess with your sleep.