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Avoid These Bad Sleep Habits For A Better Night’s Rest

Avoid These Bad Sleep Habits For A Better Night’s Rest

One night of poor sleep can leave you feeling sluggish, unfocused, and unmotivated during the day. However, the National Library of Medicine (NIH) says chronic sleep deprivation can affect your immune system, blood pressure, and mental health. Over time, a consistent lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes.

The things you do before bed can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Poor sleep hygiene may be interfering with your ability to get a good night’s rest. Below, we outline five bad sleep habits you should avoid to break the cycle of sleep deprivation.

1. Eating Too Close to Bedtime

If your body is digesting a large meal, it can be difficult for you to relax and fall asleep. Plus, lying down while your food is still digesting can cause stomach acid to enter the esophagus, leading to heartburn and indigestion. This uncomfortable burning sensation can make it impossible to get comfortable and fall asleep.

As the mind and body prepare for rest, the metabolism slows down. Therefore, late-night snacking can also trigger digestive issues that interfere with sleep.

Sleep Tip: Eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bed—this will give your body plenty of time to process food. If you need a snack between dinner and bedtime, keep it light and opt for sleep-promoting foods, such as cherries, bananas, almonds, or chamomile tea.

2. Sleeping at Odd Hours

We each have a natural circadian rhythm that is linked to the rising and setting of the sun. This cycle determines when we are most likely to feel awake and focused versus tired and sleepy.

Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is influenced by light. When you’re exposed to sunlight throughout the day, melatonin production slows, and you remain active and alert. When the sun sets, and you are exposed to less light, melatonin increases, and you begin to feel tired.

Sleeping in opposition to our natural circadian rhythm can cause a hormonal imbalance that makes it difficult to sleep. An irregular sleep schedule, such as going to bed too late and sleeping in, can lead to inadequate sleep and chronic insomnia.

Sleep Tip: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule based on when you need to wake up each day. Experts suggest aiming for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. So, if you need to wake up at 7 a.m. each morning, you should go to bed by 11 p.m. However, try to prepare for sleep at least one hour before to give yourself plenty of time to unwind.

On the weekends, try not to let your sleep schedule fluctuate. Sleep and wake times should vary no more than 1 hour from your weekday routine.

3. Drinking Coffee Late in the Day

During the late afternoon, we often turn to coffee for a quick pick me up. However, your mid-day latte could be interfering with your sleep. National Library of Medicine (NIH) studies show the effects of coffee can be felt up to 8 hours after consumption. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing wakefulness and increased brain activity, both of which are not conducive to sleep.

Sleep Tip: Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages, such as tea and soda, after 2 p.m. This length of time allows your body to completely metabolize caffeine and ensure it does not keep you awake at night.

4. Using Technology in Bed

As we mentioned above, melatonin (the sleep hormone) is influenced by light. When we use electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptops, e-readers, or tablets, the blue light from the screen can mimic the effects of sunlight, inhibiting melatonin production and our ability to sleep. The longer we lie in bed staring at our electronic screens, the harder it becomes for us to fall asleep and rest soundly.

The content we consume late at night can also trigger anxiety, causing a flood of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. Cortisol keeps the mind and body active and alert, making relaxation and sleep difficult.

Sleep Tip: To prevent blue light sleep disruptions, experts suggest reducing screen time at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Instead of scrolling social media, try reading or journaling before bed. If you can’t resist the urge to pick up your phone, keep it out of arm’s reach or in a different room altogether.

5. Working Out Before Bed

Exercise releases endorphins, increases the core body temperature, and raises cortisol levels. In the morning and afternoon, the effects of a good workout can improve your mood and mental clarity. However, late at night, physical activity can leave you full of adrenaline that hinders sleep.

Sleep Tip: Regular exercise is essential for overall health. However, avoid working out at least 1 to 2 hours before bed for a good night’s sleep. Instead, try incorporating gentle stretches into your bedtime routine. Stretching can help you relax both physically and mentally, and make it easier to fall asleep.



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