11 Healthy Habits Nutritionists Always Do Before Bed

Experts know a good night’s sleep starts with a relaxing bedtime routine.

December 21, 2020

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Nutritionists’ Bedtime Routines

It’s pretty clear to most folks that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to good health, but what’s often overlooked is the vital importance of sleep. Find out how these health experts spend their evenings and position themselves for a restful night’s slumber.

Avoid Late-Night Eating

"My advice is to tune in to what your body is telling you and modify accordingly," suggests Rosanne Rust, registered dietitian and author of DASH Diet For Dummies. "I have found that as I get older, my sleep is interrupted if I eat too close to bedtime. I try to eat dinner no later than 7 p.m.," admits Rust. "If I do eat after seven, I choose a lighter meal."

Include Meditation

Julie Lichtman RD, LDN finds several ways to unwind. "My healthy nighttime routine includes meditation (I use the Headspace app), sleepy time tea, a couple pieces of chocolate and some feel-good TV."

Keep A Consistent Bedtime

"Having a consistent bedtime from night to night helps my body and mind to know when it's time for sleep," says Karman Meyer, RDN and author of Eat To Sleep: What To Eat & When To Eat It for a Good Night's Sleep. "It also helps set me up for my goal of getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night because I'm not sacrificing sleep time to stay up later to finish watching a show!"

Be Mindful of Caffeine Intake

"The evening routine is arguably the most important part of the quality and quantity of your sleep," preaches Chris Mohr, PhD, RD creator of the 21 Days To Better Sleep Course. "It actually starts earlier in the day, with caffeine ending after my second cup of coffee well before noon."

Turn off the Tech

Jonathan Valdez, owner of Genki Nutrition and media spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, avoids the stimulation that comes from all those devices. "In the evening, in order to make sure I get seven to nine hours of sleep, I stay away from electronics one to two hours before bedtime. I usually do this by reading a book or do some light stretching. Getting the recommended sleep seems to be a chronic issue and needs to be better addressed for overall health and eating habits."

Meal Prep

Lots of nutritionists love to meal prep and Jinan Banna, PhD, RD is no exception. "My nighttime routine involves preparing my lunch to take with me to work the next day. When I work from the office, I always bring my lunch, as I prefer to choose and prepare my own food for optimal nutrition. I put my main meal, which might be fish, lentils, etc., along with vegetables and some whole grains, into a glass container all ready to eat."

Sip Warm Beverages

Stress and sleep don’t mix, so Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, MPH gets cozy with warm spices. "My favorite way to de-stress before bed is with a warm mug of turmeric coconut milk. The aromatic spices and warmth of the beverage are very soothing and help me relax before bed."

Clear Your Head

"Feeling overwhelmed during this stressful time will keep me up most nights," confesses Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN, author of The 30-Minute Clean Eating Cookbook. "To help clear my head and allow for me to drift off and stay asleep, I keep a notepad and pen on my nightstand to jot down any random thoughts in my head. I’ll note all from an item to get from the supermarket to a work email to follow up with. In order to rest soundly, it needs to be off your mind."

Clean Up

Registered dietitians Brynn McDowell and Mackenzie Burgess commit to cleaning up the night before to set them up for success in the AM. "Every night before bed, I like to spend five to 10 minutes setting myself up for a fresh start the next morning," says McDowell. "To do this, I make sure all the cups, dishes and miscellaneous things that have accumulated on my kitchen counter are put away so I feel like each day is starting fresh." And the cleaning goes beyond the kitchen. "Before I head to bed, I always like to put away a few things that have been left untidy like dirty dishes from dinner or clothes on the ground," says Burgess. "I find that when I wake up the next morning to a clean home, I feel more productive throughout the day."

Snack Smart

Snacking isn’t taboo, but Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com shares her tips for snacking success. "Since late-night snacking creates problems for so many people, including reflux and potential weight issues, it’s a good idea to plan out your snack ahead of time." It is also important to consider where you place those snacks. "Put your snack within sight on the counter or in the fridge so that you can see it when you visit the kitchen during Netflix breaks," adds Taub-Dix. "By planning ahead, you can still enjoy your favorite snacks without super-sizing them."

Involve the Kiddos

Houston-based registered dietitian, diabetes educator and mom of 2, Tejal Pathak has a family-centric nighttime regimen. "Our little healthy routine includes brushing teeth, reading for 15 to 20 minutes or chanting om before bedtime. Reading at bedtime helps us think of positive thoughts, discuss new facts and have sweet dreams. Chanting om helps to relax, unwind and get good sleep."