GET A RUSH BY EATING RIGHT
Go green: Green tea has less caffeine than coffee (20 to 30 milligrams per 8 ounces compared with 85mg per 8 ounces), so it provides enough of a jolt to help you feel alert without the inevitable post-buzz crash (and possible disruption of sleep) you can get from coffee. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress while boosting energy, so you feel calm—not jittery. Try drinking a cup in the morning before starting your daily routine—it will only take about 3 minutes to make!
Eat smaller meals: Avoid chowing down on large, heavy meals, which causes an increase in blood glucose levels, making you tired and foggy-headed—not unlike the way you feel after stuffing yourself with food on Thanksgiving. Try limiting your portions at mealtime, and if you get hungry between meals, add in a healthy snack.
Pile your plate with protein and helpful carbohydrates: There nutrients help stabilize blood sugar, so your energy levels won't dip throughout the day. The lean protein, fiber and healthful carbohydrates keep hunger at bay between regular meals, so you're less tempted to reach for fattening fare that causes energy-draining spikes and drops in blood sugar. Try smearing some peanut-butter on a whole-grain waffle at breakfast, or dine on tuna or salmon for dinner. Lean proteins, veggies and whole grains have plenty of B vitamins. Niacin (vitamin B-3) can help increase REM sleep. Pyridoxine (B-6) can help the body relax.
Snack smart: Feeling sluggish in the midafternoon? Spoon up a bowl of whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk and a few banana slices. All three foods are high in B vitamins, which your body uses to make energy. Or try having a handful of pumpkin seeds roasted with olive oil and sea salt. The seeds are rich in zinc, which lets the brain make neurotransmitters that are necessary for sleep. Other combinations that contain zinc include cheese on whole-grain crackers, and walnuts with apple slices.
Opt for a fruit drink at night: Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin, which helps us nod off. Bananas are high in magnesium, known for its calming affect. Blended together, they make a delicious nighttime smoothie. Simply combine 1 cup tart cherry juice, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup soy milk or nonfat milk, 5 ice cubes and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Sip at least an hour before bed. You could also try a half cup of Greek yogurt. Its natural sugar increases levels of sleep-inducing tryptophan and seratonin—without the insulin spike that would come with candy. Whichever snack you choose, just make sure it is fewer than 100 calories; more might cause discomfort as you prepare to drift off to sleep.