If you have trouble getting to sleep at night and wake up feeling groggy and tired, you're not alone. Generally, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but many people find it difficult to get enough hours of uninterrupted shut eye. A lack of sleep not only impacts your mood, it can impair your memory and concentration as well. Additionally, it can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, viruses, and other infections. Here are fifteen habits to avoid if you're in the market for getting a better night's sleep.
1. Leaving the TV On or Using Your Computer Before Bed
Some people watch TV as a way to fall asleep. However, what many people don't realize is that it can contribute to sleeplessness. The human body runs on a 24-hour Circadian Rhythm or an "internal clock." This internal clock has a huge impact on when we sleep and the quality of sleep we get. Additionally, it's sensitive to light. The continuous light from the TV or a computer can interfere with this.
2. Eating Right Before Bed
Food is a source of energy. If you're trying to fall asleep, a huge boost of energy is definitely not what you need. Try to eat at least two hours before you go to bed and avoid fatty foods. Heavy foods take awhile to digest and may keep you awake.
Although alcohol is a depressant, it can contribute to restlessness. Drinking before bed may make you drowsy, but you're more likely to wake up in the middle of the night.
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Avoid caffeinated drinks before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you up at night. In fact, caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 10-12 hours after drinking it.
Although some people use nicotine to relax before bed, it's an unreliable sleep aide. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant and will only keep you awake.
6. Using Your Bed as a Desk, Table, Etc
Your bed should be for sleeping only. If you associate your bed with work, it may be harder for your body to wind down and relax.
We've all been there. You climb into bed and shut your eyes, but your thoughts are racing a million miles an hour. Stress and/or anxiety can certainly contribute to the length and quality of your sleep. Worried about the next day? Make a to-do list before you hit the hay. Still struggling to fall asleep? Try relaxation techniques. Listen to a book on tape, soft music or have a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea.
8. Sleep Medications
Over-the-counter sleep aides and prescription pills can help the onset of sleep. However, these medications should be a last resort. In the long run, sleep medications can cause side effects and trigger insomnia. If you feel that you just can't fall asleep without a sleep aide, talk to your doctor or healthcare professional.
9. Not Having A Set Bedtime
Believe it or not, not having a set bed time can greatly impact the length or quality of your sleep. Try to plan how many hours of sleep you'll need and go to bed at the same time every night. As tempting as it may sound, sleeping in on the weekends will only disrupt your routine.
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10. Frequent Napping
Sometimes, naps are a good way to restore your energy. However, you shouldn't nap longer than 30 minutes. Limit your naps to early afternoon or 8 hours after you wake.
11. Exercising before Bed
Regular exercise can help you fall asleep easier and faster. On the other hand, exercising right before bed will only stimulate your body. Your body associates cooler temperatures with sleep; exercising raises your body temperature.
12. Room Temperature
Create comfortable sleeping conditions by experimenting with room temperature. Many people fall asleep faster in a room that has a moderate or cool temperature.
13. Light Exposure
Naturally, our bodies are programmed to fall asleep when it's dark. Your Circadian Rhythm is sensitive to light. It may sound obvious, but be sure to keep your bedroom dark at night. Additionally, too little exposure to light during the day can cause sleep problems at night.
Do you cuddle up with your pet at night? Unfortunately, your dog or cat may be the culprit of your sleeplessness. In addition to allergens, movement from your pet may keep you awake.
15. Comfortable Sleeping Conditions
Sometimes, it's the little things that make the largest impact. Having a comfortable bed is the first step. Is your bed too small? Do you wake up with a sore back or neck? Simple things such as a memory foam topper may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
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