We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep and how the opposite can throw everything off. But even if you prioritize 7-8 hours, you may wonder why you still struggle to fall and stay asleep. It’s a concern for many. In fact, 8 in 10 adults globally battle sleep disturbances. Yet interestingly, the root of the problem may have something to do with the habits we do either during the day or before bedtime. So, let’s discuss the habits that are sabotaging your sleep and how to break them.
11 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Sleep and How to Break Them
1. Watching TV to fall asleep
The problem: You may think your habit of listening to TV to fall asleep is harmless, but it’s negatively affecting you twofold. Firstly, the TV emits blue light, which suppresses melatonin, your much-needed sleep hormone to fall asleep. And secondly, it’s loud, which can awaken you from a deep slumber.
The fix: If you’re not ready to part from your TV, turn the brightness and volume down. Otherwise, practice exploring and listening to a few different white noise sounds. White noise will block any unwanted noise without emitting blue light and even condition your body to know when it’s time to sleep: triple win.
2. Checking your phone before bed
The problem: Similar to the previous habit, the blue light from your computers, smartphones, and TV disrupts your natural sleep-wake cycles and contributes to unsatisfactory sleep. And yes, this rule applies to your late-night scrolling.
The fix: There are a few tips to help you eliminate this habit. Charge your phone in another room to adopt the out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach, learn how to take a social media break for your mental health, and replace your screens with meditation.
3. Using your bed as your office
The problem: You may be tempted to work from your bed, but your sleep quality will benefit from separate spaces. Interestingly, your bed should be a cue for sleep, and if you work or even watch TV in your sleep sanctuary, your brain becomes confused and starts associating it with wakefulness.
The fix: Create a workspace that feels comfortable for you. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to be separate from your bedroom. Additionally, follow a mindful morning routine to jumpstart your productivity and pull you out of your PJs.
4. Working out at the wrong time of the day
The problem: Exercise is always incredible for your sleep, but timing is everything. In fact, experts recommend working out 2-3 hours before bed and avoiding any late-night workouts 90 minutes before bed. This window allows you to wind down before sleeping.
The fix: It’s always best to exercise in the morning or afternoon, but if it’s not possible, avoid nightly high-intensity workouts and stick to low-impact like at-home full-body Pilates workouts or yoga.
5. Your bed doesn’t feel like a sanctuary
The problem: Is your bedroom comfortable? For example, is the temp nice and cool, are your pillows little clouds, and is there any sound or light creeping in at night? These factors matter when looking at habits that are sabotaging your sleep.
The fix: To ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep, keep a fan on at night, consider purchasing black-out curtains to remove light, and learn how to create an at-home sanctuary on a budget to prepare you for the deepest sleep.
6. Naps and sleeping in on the weekends
The problem: If you’re battling the side effects of sleep deprivation, you may want to take a long nap during the day to cope. And when the weekend rolls around, nothing feels better than sleeping in well past your normal wake-up time. But both habits throw your sleep schedule way off.
The fix: Keep your naps to a minimum of 15-20 minutes, and sync your week with your weekends to follow a consistent sleep schedule.
7. Not receiving enough sunlight in the morning
The problem: Our brains need a morning sunshine boost to create a defined sleep-wake schedule that makes us feel alert in the morning and sleepy at night. Not doing so disrupts your circadian rhythm.
The fix: Follow the rule and wake up with the sun instead of your phone and learn how to beat the afternoon slump by eating lunch outside, having your coffee with the morning sun, or completing a few yoga poses for stress relief in your backyard or balcony.
8. Completing mentally stimulating activities before bed
The problem: After a long day, you may want to read, complete a crossword puzzle, or create a plan to solve a goal, but these activities are mentally stimulating and make it more challenging to sleep. No matter how tired you feel, an activated mind can trigger restless sleep.
The fix: Create a wind-down routine complete with calming nighttime routine ideas to reduce anxiety and prep your mind, like listening to 432 Hz frequency music or practicing progressive muscle relaxation.
9. Avoiding the source of your stress
The problem: While avoiding stress and uncomfortable feelings may feel like a retreat, it actually causes more harm than good. In fact, it reinforces you to never address the issue, which leads to increased emotional reactivity, anxiety, and fear and leads to late-night overthinking and sleep deprivation.
The fix: Learn how to manage and address your stress with techniques that actually help, like journaling, confiding in a loved one, practicing time management, and piling on self-love.
10. An evening coffee
The problem: You already know that coffee increases your energy levels and keeps you up. It’s the goal. But there’s a caveat. Any coffee consumed even after 3 pm could create difficulties in falling asleep at 11 pm and moving through the necessary stages of REM and NREM.
The fix: Follow the golden rule of no caffeine at least six hours before bed and consider shifting to energizing coffee alternatives that fuel your morning and day.
11. Eating late-night heavy meals
There you have it! The habits that are sabotaging your sleep and subsequent tricks you can implement to improve your sleep quality. However, if these tips don’t help you, it’s worth speaking to a doctor to determine if an underlying condition is affecting your health.
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