Habits to avoid for a good night’s sleep

Habits to avoid for a good night's sleep


Almost everyone wants to sleep better and feel more rested when they awake in the morning. A good way to encourage this is to avoid certain habits before going to bed that can keep one awake or prevent restful, full-REM sleep.

  • Avoid stimulants, including food. Caffeine, exercise, sugary foods, spicy foods; actually, all food in general. Put away the ice cream, celery, and cereal. Exercise is a great idea – but do it during the day. Exercising before bed will keep one awake due to the invigorating effects of exercise. Exercise can help one sleep more soundly at night, but only if it’s done several hours beforehand. Try not to exercise within three hours of bedtime, as it can raise one’s body temperature and make dozing off more difficult. You can try these bedtime yoga moves in your bed.

  • Don’t take a hot shower or bath at least an hour before bed. Much like exercise, a hot shower or bath before bed may seem like a good idea at the time, but it also can raise the body’s internal temperature and make it more difficult to sleep. Try to allow the body time to cool off before hopping between the sheets. Being overheated or sweating can impede slumber.

  • Avoid caffeine. Seems like an obvious choice but we are including it anyway. Try not to have anything caffeinated after 4 pm. The body’s natural cycle starts to wind down after this time and keeping it stimulated can mess with one’s internal ‘clock,’ throwing off its natural rhythm and causing sleep disruptions. Alcohol can also cause sleep disruptions, but drinking a lot of any liquid within the last hour or two before going to bed will lead to those dreaded late-night bathroom breaks, and further disrupt slumber. Don’t go to bed thirsty, either, as it’ll cause one to wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. Balance is key here.

    • Food is problematic because sometimes, one is simply too hungry to sleep, however this is a sign that one is not getting enough protein or fiber in their diet, which causes the body to feel hungry. The body does need fuel to sleep, but eating right before bed can cause problems as it takes energy to digest and gravity has a major role in the digestive process. If one lies down right after eating, it robs the body of that much-needed gravity and causes gastro-intestinal issues, the least of which include symptoms of heartburn and/or nausea.

  • Try not to watch TV or surf the web at least an hour before retiring for the night. Studies show that pre-slumber screen time can impede the body’s ability to fall asleep. The likely culprit? The bright lights of these screens can hinder the development of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.

  • In the same vein, don’t work (including homework) or have an argument right before going to sleep. That old adage of not going to bed angry is true here. These things can keep the mind whirring until late into the night, causing mental distress and losing valuable sleep-time. Whatever the issue is, it can certainly wait until morning.

  • Avoid engrossing reads! Many of us have done this: reading a really interesting novel and tell yourself, “Oh, just one more page!” Suddenly, it’s 2AM and the alarm will be going off in four hours. Definitely, reading a really interesting book, essay or novel before bed will make it difficult to get to sleep. Perhaps try reading the most boring thing imaginable? Read the manual for an electronic that’s stuffed away somewhere in the house or print off a Terms of Use Agreement.

  • Don’t cuddle with a pet. It may seem like a good idea to let Fido or Prissy into the bed, but the reality is that six-pound terrier can take up a lot of space and isn’t going to be happy if accidentally rolled over on or woken when its owner decides to move in their sleep. Not to mention pets will sleep a couple hours, then get up to investigate another part of the house, which can disturb one’s sleep. Even if you don’t fully wake up when the pet leaves the bed, it will still disrupt the REM cycle.

  • According to a study by Mayo Clinic, more than half of the insomnia patients seeking consultations at Mayo Clinic sleep clinic are pet owners complaining of nightly sleep disturbances by their furry companions.

~ Khrystyana Kirton


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