8 Habits That Are Holding You Back From Better Sleep
Good sleep is essential to overall well-being, yet so many people struggle with getting enough of it. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor physical health and contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. It’s also bad for mental health, increasing your risk of depression.
If you haven’t been sleeping well or feel tired during the day and don’t know why, consider these common habits that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.
1. Changing up your schedule. Good sleep requires consistency. If you’re going to bed at different hours every night or even between weekdays and the weekend, you’re sabotaging your sleep. A recent study found that irregular bed and wake times also increase the risk of chronic health problems.
2. Overeating before bed. A big meal fires up your digestive system, keeping you awake. Rich, fatty foods can also cause heartburn, which worsens when lying down in bed.
3. Drinking alcohol at night. A nightcap may seem like a great way to unwind before bed, but alcohol disrupts sleep. Initially, alcohol makes you drowsy, so you may fall asleep faster. However, it disrupts your regular sleep cycles later in the night, and can also worsen sleep apnea and snoring.
4. Exercising at the wrong time. Physical activity is a great way to promote good sleep, but if you’re doing it too late in the day, you may be sabotaging sleep. It’s tough for the mind and body to relax after a vigorous workout session.
5. Napping too much. A quick cat nap can be a good way to perk up midday, but too much napping will leave you lying awake at night. It’s a mistake for most people to nap for more than 20 to 30 minutes or from the afternoon on.
6. Working in bed. With more people working at home, many take advantage of the comfort of their beds to check emails and do other work. Exposure to the blue light of your screen at night disrupts sleep, but the problem goes deeper. If you use your bedroom for daytime activities, your brain won’t associate it with nighttime and sleep.
7. Lying awake in bed. Associating your bed with the anxiety of being unable to fall asleep is also harmful. The more you lie in bed, awake, stressing over not being able to sleep, the worse your insomnia gets.
8. Mental health symptoms. Anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues disrupt sleep. Poor sleep, in turn, worsens these symptoms. If you’re not addressing these challenges, your sleep will continue to suffer.
Change Your Habits to Sleep Better
Getting better sleep is a matter of changing bad habits into good ones. Identify your negative patterns of behavior and do the opposite. For instance, set a schedule for bedtime and stick with it, even on weekends. Remove screens from your bedroom and create a relaxing sanctuary you associate with sleep.
For stress and anxiety, consider taking up regular meditation. BetterSleep offers a library of guided meditations, including short beginner practices to get you started. Regular practice will help you cope better with daily stress and the anxiety associated with worrying about sleep.
With the right new habits, you’ll be on the road to better sleep in no time.
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