Few things are more frustrating or draining than a bad night's sleep. Staring at the clock wishing you could get at least a couple hours of shut-eye is an awful feeling. For some people, however, a good night's rest may be achievable with some simple changes to daily habits. Knowing the things you do every day that affect your sleep may help you rest soundly at last.
For what it's worth, if you're having trouble sleeping well, you are in good company. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over a third of American adults regularly get less sleep than they need. What's more, all those sleepless nights can add up to some serious health issues. As further noted by the CDC, individuals who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are at an increased risk for many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In addition to these potential problems, it's important to note the state of mental distress that a sleep debt can cause. If you've ever had to go a few nights without adequate rest, you know that such intense fatigue can be crazy-making.
Of course, no one deliberately tries to ruin their sleep with an afternoon coffee or too many email checks. But many little habits can secretly sabotage your slumbers. Even something as simple as the medication you take can affect your sleep hygiene. With this in mind, making sure you avoid these everyday sleep sucks is a smart move.
1. Tap The Snooze Button
It may sound strange, but your very first actions in the morning could affect your ability to sleep later that night. In fact, according to Everyday Health, the fragmented sort of sleep you get from hitting the snooze button a few times may be even worse for you than not sleeping. By messing with your REM process, fragmented sleep can leave you feeling extra-sluggish the next day. Disabling that snooze button may be a great choice in the long run.
2. Take Certain Medications
Checking the label on meds you take frequently may offer some insight into your restless nights. As noted by Harvard Health Publications, many types of medication can interfere with your ability to sleep well each night. Anything from cold medication to ADD treatments may lead to sleeplessness.
3. Exercise Late
It sounds counterintuitive, because a good workout can leave you feeling exhausted. But as explained in Sleep.org, working out later in the day may leave you feeling too keyed up for a good night's rest. However, this does not hold true for everyone, so experimenting with your workout times may help you decide whether your late-afternoon gym trips are leaving you wired.
4. Eat Spicy Foods
If you're in the habit of dousing your dinner with hot sauce, then it may be time to consider a milder seasoning. According to Medical Daily, spicy foods may cause stomach upset at night leave you feeling wide awake. Because you basically need a calm stomach to sleep well.
5. Play With Your iPhone At Night
For some people, sleep feels impossible without first scrolling through the phone for a few minutes. After all, it seems like a quick way to sneak in some me time and relax. But according to Psychology Today, playing on your phone at bedtime may interfere with your sleep hygiene, as the blue light emitted from your phone could mess with your circadian rhythms. Giving yourself an hour of screen-free time before bed is usually a good rule of thumb.
6. Consume Caffeine
Granted, no one reaches for a giant cup of coffee with the hope of imminent sleep; caffeine is a well-known stimulant. But as noted in Health, caffeine can show up in some unexpected places, such as ice cream, pain reliever medication, and even packaged beef jerky. Reading the labels of your favorite snacks and medications may prove eye-opening.
7. Not Winding Down
Granted, you may be a little old for a bedtime story. But even adults can benefit from a bedtime wind-down routine. According to Health, if you don't give yourself a few minutes to calm down before bed, then you may deal with the dreaded "brain that won't shut off" syndrome. A simple and calming activity, such as crafting or reading something that's a little boring, can help you get in the right frame of mind for sleep.
8. Drink Alcohol
This may sound counterintuitive, because for many people a glass or wine or two facilitates sleep like nothing else. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep faster (no surprise there), the type of sleep you get after boozing may not be as great. According to WebMD, alcohol consumption is correlated to a reduction in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This, in turn, can leave you feeling drowsy and tired the next day.
9. Let Your Pet Sleep On The Bed
For many people, having Fluffy sleep at the corner of the bed is a nice source of comfort. But other pets are a bit more disruptive. As explained in WebMD, if your pet is disturbing your sleep every night, then it might be time for Fido to find separate sleeping quarters. Pets who stomp all over you and make noise may be better off in their own bed.
10. Get Engrossed In Shows Or Books
It's no surprise that an engrossing TV series or book can keep you up late into the night. As explained in The Huffington Post, watching your favorite show late into the night, especially if you're lying in bed, can act as a form of sleep procrastination. This method of procrastination, in which you keep pushing your bedtime back for the sake of one more episode, can leave you feeling drained and exhausted during the day. Basically, many sleep experts seem to view TV shows, books, and other media as an enemy to sleep.
11. Stress About Getting Eight Hours
Do you calculate your hours of sleep (or a lack thereof) every night? This may actually do you more harm than good. According to Reader's Digest, watching the clock, and counting up all the sleep you aren't getting, will likely just act against you in the long run. Trying to forget the time entirely may be a better course of action.