When it comes to good sleep hygiene, we all know not to have caffeine before bed or spend our last few hours watching TV or playing on our phone. However, there are a number of other common, weird mistakes that people make that can ruin their sleep, and even if they don't seem like they would have an impact on our slumber, science proves otherwise. Knowing what these off-beat habits are can help us fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more well-rested and refreshed.
"Much like we prepare for work or school, to get a good night’s sleep, we need to take certain steps to prepare before bedtime," says sleep expert Dr. Lee Chiong over email. "A good rule of thumb is to begin winding down one to two hours before going to bed. This is not the appropriate time to exercise, worry about your fears, or get into an argument. For many, attaining good sleep on a regular basis is a learned activity that we can influence by our pre-bedtime habits."
If you feel like you're not getting adequate sleep, you might want to consider these 11 common, but weird, mistakes that could be ruining your sleep.
1. Sleeping In
"Oversleeping may seem ideal, but it can be just as damaging to our sleep cycle as not getting enough sleep because it alters our circadian rhythms," says Lee-Chiong. "By sleeping longer than normal, we unknowingly throw off our regular circadian rhythm and can end up feeling unsettled or groggy."
2. Reading Non-Fiction Before Bed
Reading before bed can definitely be relaxing, but what you choose to read matters. Reading a book that is exciting, emotional, or demands high concentration near bedtime can lead to poor sleep quality, as these type of books increase cognitive activity in your brain when you're falling asleep, according to a study published in the journal Behavior Therapy.
3. Keeping Busy Until Bed Time
"Work demands and active lifestyles can interfere with sleep, and excessively busy schedules can often extend past your usual or ideal bedtimes," says Lee-Chiong. It's important to cut off your activities before bed so you don't hit the sheets with a high level of the stress hormone cortisol, which can interfere with your slumber.
4. Sleeping On Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach might help with snoring, but it doesn't help with much else. This position puts a lot of strain on your neck, back, and joints, which can cause pain that wakes you up frequently in the middle of the night, according to Healthline.
5. Eating Too Much For Dinner
Going to bed hungry isn't comfortable, but neither is going to bed overstuffed. Eating too close to bedtime can put yourself at risk for heartburn and indigestion, which can make it hard to fall asleep, according to research from the American Journal of Gastroenterology. "The digestive system works best when we are in an upright position, where gravity helps move the food through the process," says personal development coach Peggy Sealfon over email.
6. Taking Sleeping Pills
Taking a sleeping pill after one bad night of insomnia isn't harmful, but if you're becoming accustomed to taking medication nightly, it negatively affects your ability to sleep, according to Everyday Health. Taking prescription sleeping pills over a long period of time causes your body to become accustomed to the drug, which means you need higher doses to get the same sleep-inducing effect. High doses of sleeping pills can also affect your breathing when you sleep.
7. Taking A Multivitamin
Getting in your daily dose of nutrients seems innocent enough, but you want to be careful not to take your vitamins right before bed, especially on an empty stomach. Sometimes multivitamins can cause discomfort and nausea, according to Livestrong, so it's best to take your supplements in the morning or afternoon.
8. Sleeping In A Warm Room
A warm and cozy room might seem like the most conducive environment for adequate sleep, but it's actually better to lower the temperature a little before getting into bed. Research from the University of South Australia found that a drop in body temperature can help decrease insomnia and result in a better night's sleep.
9. Doing Other Things In Your Bedroom
"There is an old saying among sleep professionals that beds are only for sleep or sex," says Dr. Lynn Johnson, author of The Healing Power of Sleep, over email. "If we are in the habit of eating, watching TV, or reading in bed, then that can make bed a place that requires we be awake. Then we are in the habit of getting fired up when we get into bed."
10. Not Washing Your Bedding Enough
When you don't wash your bedding enough, dust mites can accumulate on your pillows and sheets, which can trigger allergies and asthma, according to WebMD. Washing your bedding weekly can prevent sneezes and sniffles from keeping you up at night.
11. Cuddling With Your Pet
It's definitely nice to snuggle up with your puppy, but sleeping with your pet can have a negative effect on your sleep. Sixty-three percent of pet owners who sleep beside their pets sleep poorly more often than not, according to research from the Annual Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
The more you prepare for bed and follow good sleep hygiene, the better rested you will feel.
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