10 ‘harmless’ nighttime habits that are secretly ruining your sleep

We know the importance of habits. Many people try to cultivate good habits, such as eating healthy, reading more, or sleeping more.

Unfortunately, sometimes we inadvertently set ourselves up for failure, especially when it comes to sleep. What we don’t always realize is that some of the things we do before bed can actually aggravate our STD.

We turned to several experts to find out which of our seemingly harmless nighttime habits don’t contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Here’s what to avoid:

1. Procrastinate before bed

We all have busy lives and sometimes we don’t have time to complete our to-do lists during the day. To catch up, we’ll try a game of catch-up at night.

According to Dr. Ashwini Nadkarni, associate psychiatrist and instructor at Harvard Medical School, this has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic and could lead to poor overall sleep quality.

“A lot of people spend the last few minutes of the day ‘catching up’ not only at work but also at home,” Nadkarni told HuffPost.

“For example, in the last 30 minutes before bed, people may write down lists of tasks they need to complete around the house, obligations they need to complete on behalf of their children, or respond to work emails they may have missed.” she continued. “It may look like a version of a rollover, although it can actually provoke nighttime rumination and a level of arousal about extra planning for the next day, which in turn affects sleep onset delay and worsens overall sleep quality.”

2. Drinking alcohol before bed

We know cravings for your favorite alcoholic drink can seem like the perfect way to unwind after a long day, but it can also be the reason why you can’t sleep.

Chelsea Rorschaib, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at Wesper, a home tool for diagnosing sleep disorders and improving sleep, said that while alcohol is initially sedating, it becomes problematic as it is metabolized and broken down by the liver into new chemicals.

“When alcohol breaks down, it turns into a chemical that affects the sleep centers in the brain and interferes with deep and REM sleep, making the latter half of the night more restless and causing frequent awakenings,” she said.

Also, alcohol can make you urinate more often, so you may have to get up often to go to the toilet. Rorschaib recommended drinking the last alcoholic drink at least three to four hours before bedtime.

3. Interaction with technology

Even though we know we shouldn’t, it’s very hard to resist reaching for our phone, iPad, or laptop while we’re in bed. However, Dr. Alex Dimitriou, a dual board certified physician in psychiatry and sleep medicine, encourages people to give it a try.

Dimitriou explained that the screens are bright with blue light and interactive, which promotes wakefulness.

“I ask all my patients to ‘rest at 10’, ideally not to watch screens one to two hours before bed,” he said. “Reading is much more conducive to good sleep than interacting with a smartphone until the last moment of waking up. Avoiding interactive or stimulating stimuli before bed will not only help you fall asleep earlier, but will also help deepen your sleep during the night, as your brain starts to slow down before bed.”

That also includes watching TV in bed, added Martin Reid, a certified clinical sleep specialist. “When we watch TV in bed, we can train ourselves that the bed is a place to watch TV, not a place reserved solely for sleeping,” Reed said. “Also, watching TV at night can lead to binge drinking, especially when watching Netflix shows that tend to automatically play a new episode as soon as it ends – postponing bedtime and resulting in less time to sleep.”

Finally, if you can’t get rid of screens entirely, Dr. Deepti Agarwal, Director of Interventional and Integrative Pain Management at Case Integrative Health, recommended investing in a good pair of blue light glasses.

“If glasses aren’t your thing, there are plenty of screen protectors or phone apps that block out blue light. Then you can enjoy your favorite show and avoid the negative impact on your sleep,” she said.

Westend61 via Getty Images

If you haven’t already, it’s time to break the habit of talking at night.

4. Fatal Scroll

The act of doomscrolling refers to constantly seeing bad news on social media. But before doomscrolling, people spent hours watching TV news. Thought scrolling and “mind watching” are both bad for your mental health, but they can also affect your sleep.

Heather Tergen and Julie Wright, sleep experts and authors of The Sleepless Generation, say that watching the news two hours before bedtime robs you of sleep.

“Today’s horrific news cycle is a good example of a habit that can make falling asleep much more difficult,” they both wrote in an email. “If we move from the intense emotional arousal of breaking news and all the anxiety it causes in our already overactive mind to getting into bed and trying to sleep, we are more likely to lie awake instead.” “.

5. Evening workouts

It is generally recommended to avoid vigorous exercise at least 90 minutes before bedtime. According to Stephen Light, a certified sleep science trainer, while many people choose nightly workouts to “get tired,” these workouts can make the night a restless sleep.

“Avoid workouts that make you sweat an hour before bed,” he said. “It could be cardio, weightlifting or high-intensity interval training. Instead, opt for workouts like Pilates, yoga, or an evening walk if you feel the need to expend extra energy. Training to relieve muscle tension can help you avoid pain that makes you unable to sleep with discomfort.

6. Lack of routine work

Getting a good night’s sleep requires foreplay, which means you need to create a sleep routine before bed as well. Carly Prendergast, certified sleep science trainer and sleep expert, says calming rituals are important in preparing the mind and body for relaxation and optimal sleep.

“Finding a relaxing routine will help the brain produce melatonin, which will eventually lead to sleep,” she said. “You may want to establish a habit of going to bed around the same time every night. This can help establish the circadian rhythm – the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Other soothing activities might include taking a warm bath, skin care, reading a book, etc.”

Reading Before Bed Is A Great Way To Calm Down.

Radovanovic96 via Getty Images

Reading before bed is a great way to calm down.

7. Eating foods high in sugar

It’s best to avoid foods that quickly raise blood sugar levels before bed, according to Rorschaib.

“When your blood sugar rises rapidly, it causes your blood sugar to drop after it has been removed from your system,” she said. “Lower blood sugar often leads to hypoglycemia, and it can wake you up in the middle of the night. If you need to snack before bed, opt for low glycemic foods such as oats, which will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night.”

8. Temperature too high

It may be tempting to turn on the heating or turn off the air conditioner, but high temperatures can adversely affect the quality of sleep. The brain and body must undergo a slight drop in temperature in order to initiate and maintain sleep.

According to Rorschaib, “When we get too hot, our body has to work harder to cool us down and keep us cool, which makes it very difficult to sleep. Try to keep your bedroom temperature between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer months, use fans, open windows, or use cooling technologies such as a cooling pad to reduce the chance of overheating.”

9. Spend too much time in bed.

According to Reid, the amount of time we spend sleeping should be similar to our average night’s sleep. This means that if you usually get about seven hours of sleep every night, it’s best not to spend more than seven and a half or eight hours in bed.

“Many people who struggle with sleep devote too much time to sleep, trying to get enough sleep,” he said. “It sounds logical – after all, if you spend more time in bed, you have more opportunities to sleep.”

But spending more time in bed if you’re already struggling to sleep can be counterproductive.

“If you’re already struggling with sleep, spending more time in bed will just mean more time awake in bed, not more time sleeping,” Reid said. “This leads to more tossing and turning during the night and more restlessness, stress and anxiety associated with staying awake in bed. Over time, this creates an association between bed, anxiety, and being awake rather than sleeping and relaxing. It makes it difficult to sleep.”

10. Using your bedroom as an office

Finally, turning a bedroom into an office space can be a reason for sleepless nights.

“When we use our bedroom as an office, we create an association with being awake,” says Morgan Adams, women’s sleep coach. “Our beds are supposed to be a signal for sleep, so working in our beds weakens that association. If you’ve been working in your bed all day, you may find it harder to fall asleep as you may have trouble shutting off your “working brain.”


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