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You’re tired of being tired. We get it. Plenty of people notice the effects of poor sleep – everything from inability to concentrate to irritability to weight gain – yet they don’t know where to begin to reverse the cycle of poor sleep. Take a look at your bedtime routine: You may be ruining your chances for sleeping soundly before your head even hits the pillow.
No, we’re not talking about watching your favorite show nonstop (we’ll get to that in no. 5), we’re talking about dinner … and dessert … and nighttime snacks. Your body needs time to digest all that food before you lie down, otherwise you’re likely to have indigestion and heartburn, which can interfere with sleep. Why? When your stomach is really full, acid can creep into your esophagus (hello, heartburn). Lying down compounds the problem since gravity isn’t there to aid in keeping the stomach acid in place.
Sorry. It’s just not true that consuming alcohol before bed helps you sleep better. While alcohol may make you feel drowsy, numerous studies point out that it disrupts your ability to go into and remain in a deep, restful sleep state.
Rigorous exercise, like taking a long run before you snooze, can make it difficult to sleep. Intense exercise raises your body temperature and triggers the release of endorphins, plus it can raise levels of cortisol. Any other time of day, no problem. In fact, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better. But your core body temperature needs to go down for you to sleep well. And all those endorphins bouncing around in your brain may keep you buzzing, making it harder to unwind and fall asleep.
It’s tempting to stay up an hour or two thinking you can get more done that way. But sliding into the habit of going to bed later and later can have disastrous results on your health. Night owls not only sleep less, but may be at a greater risk for developing poor eating habits and diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Your smartphone is part of your life. It’s your newscaster, travel planner, organizer, entertainer, alarm and more all rolled into one. Yet your brain is wired to react to what it sees on the screen. It acts as a stimulant, as opposed to helping lull you to sleep. That one last check of your email before bed? That sends your brain into problem-solving mode, not sleep mode. And the light from those screens can negatively impact your sleep too, again signaling to your brain it’s still time to be awake, as opposed to releasing sleep-inducing hormones.
These five tips can easily help you improve your sleep habits, but remember, the foundation for a great sleep routine is a great mattress. If your current one is giving you aches and pains when you wake up every morning, you may want to consider purchasing a new one.
Time to spill – what’s your worst bedtime behavior? Tell us your dirty sleep secrets on social media using #MyBadBedtimeHabit.Don’t ruin your chances for a good night’s rest before your head hits the pillow! Here’s the top 5 bad bedtime behaviors from @BetterSleepOrg and how to stop doing them. #BSCSleepTips
This blog provides general information about sleep and sleep products. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified heath care professional. This blog should not be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care professional. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health or the health of others. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere on bettersleep.org. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911