Bedtime habits that are ruining your sleep

If you're having trouble falling asleep, you're in good company. An estimated 65% of Americans said they encounter sleep problems a few nights each week, according to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleeping too little is linked with an increased risk for obesity and depression. But before you reach for a sleep aid from the nearest pharmacy, it's worth reexamining your nighttime routine. Some of your favorite evening rituals could be responsible for that tossing and turning.


1. Setting a Bright Alarm Clock
The looming glare of your alarm clock can be distracting when trying to sleep. The goal is to have as dark a room as possible. Block the bright numbers with a book or consider buying a small travel clock. Your cell phone alarm may also do the trick.

2.
Counting Sheep
When you just can't fall asleep, it's useless to stay in bed. If you've been trying to fall asleep for more than 30 minutes, the National Sleep Foundation suggests doing something mundane, like balancing a checkbook, reading or watching TV. An activity that demands marginal brainpower will lull your mind. Before you know it, you'll be crawling back into bed genuinely tired.

3. Exercising Late at Night
Daytime workouts will keep you invigorated for hours. That's why you don't want to exercise within three hours of hitting the sack. Intense physical activity raises your body temperature and pumps your energy level-both interrupt a calm transition into sleep.


By Danielle Schloffel

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