After going hard all day long, it's really (like, really) difficult to magically turn off your mind and get to sleep. But did you know there are some things you shouldn't do before bed because they make it even more difficult? These are the habits that keep your anxiety on high alert, prevent sleep, and generally ruin your (supposedly relaxing) evening.
This is a problem I certainly have, and it probably happens to a lot of you, too. "One of the number one anxiety complaints and negative habits people come to see me about is at night when they can't fall asleep because they can't turn their mind off," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. "It is when all the distractions are gone that worry and anxiety settle in."
If this hits close to home, then you need to make your evening all about a relaxing routine. "If you learn calming and distraction tools, you will slip off to sleep much more easily," Martinez says. Think along the lines of meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. Oh, and probably nothing that's listed below. Read on for some of the things you should never do before bed — especially if you want a calming and restoring night's sleep.
1. Stare Deeply Into Your Electronics
We all know not to do it, so here's your gentle reminder: stop using electronics before bed . This includes watching TV, texting, checking social media, scrolling the internet, etc. "They stimulate the mind, keeping you awake," Martinez says. "The bedroom is for sleep and sex, and once they are removed, your mind will equate this area with this." Thus making falling asleep 100 times easier.
2. Turn Up The Heat
I understand the desire to make your apartment extra cozy before bed. But turning up the heat can actually make falling asleep more difficult. "Science proves that most of us get our best sleep in ambient temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, so we suggest you dial the thermostat back," noted HuffingtonPost.com.
3. Snack On Fatty Foods
Go ahead and have yourself a snack before bed — as long as it isn't super greasy. While delicious, fries and the like can make your stomach work overtime to digest, causing discomfort that can make it difficult to sleep, according to fitness editor Jenny Sugar on PopSugar.com. Avoid these snacks late in the day, and you'll successfully get thyself some sleep.
4. Sip On Caffeinated Beverages
You might not drink coffee right before bed, but keep in mind other beverages have caffeine, too. Tea is a good example. Same goes for some sodas. Even hot chocolate can mess with your sleep, due to the caffeine found in cocoa. "The caffeine from these drinks increases adrenaline and energy levels, producing an effect that will keep you up rather than helping you doze off," says registered dietician and nutritionist, Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN, in an email to Bustle. Save them for earlier in the day, and you should be good come bedtime.
5. Get Yourself In A Convo
Once you've decided it's time for bed, start to end ongoing text convos. "If you sleep with your phone in or near your bed, you could be disturbed by replies after you've already ... fallen asleep," said health writer Amanda MacMillan on Health. Yes, you can silence your phone, or not bring it to bed at all (see tip number one). But this has a lot to do with winding down and letting yourself relax, too.
6. Try To Resolve Fights
If you're arguing with your SO, it's very noble to try to make amends before bed. But if it ain't happening, don't force it. Resolving things prematurely — just so you "don't go to bed angry" — often means skimming over the problem, Martinez tells me. Not only does this mean you'll argue again later on, but it could also cause you to angrily ruminate all night long. And that's not good for anyone.
7. Hit Up The Gym
Exercise is a great way to get better sleep. And yet, if you do intense cardio right before bed, it can do just the opposite. "Aside from needing to eat right after, it revs up your heart rate and your energy levels, making it difficult for your body and mind to settle down enough to fall asleep," Sugar said. "For a better night of zzz's, finish your workout three hours before you plan to hit the hay."
8. Stress Out About Life
If your mind is running wild with worries, all you can do is direct that nervous energy elsewhere. "Learn a good unwind routine at the end of the day," Martinez says. "Something like yoga, meditation, mantras, or something along these lines to relax and center you, as this promotes sleep." It may not solve your life's problems, but anything's better than starting wide-eyed at wall.
9. Check Your Work Email
Unless you want to stress yourself out, don't check work emails before bed. "Checking in with the office too late at night is more likely to make you nervous or agitated, or fill your mind with things you'll need to do in the morning," MacMillan said. It's totally OK to leave it until morning.
10. Drink A Night Cap
It certainly is relaxing to have a glass of wine before bed. Heck, it can even help you fall asleep. But if sleep quality is what you're after, then that night cap may not be worth it. Studies show drinking alcohol before bed significantly disrupts sleep quality later on in the night, according to lifestyle writer Liz Steelman on Real Simple. Definitely something to keep in mind.
11. Take A Hot Bath
What other relaxing things are secretly ruining your sleep? Sorry to say, but soaking in the tub can cause problems, too. Your body temperature cools down in the evening, but the hot water from the bath spikes it up again, according to an article on Sleep.org. Since it's easier to sleep when you're cool, it's not a good idea to slip into steaming water right before bed. Do it earlier in the day, however, and you will be OK.
12. Chug A Ton Of Water
Sipping water all day is a good idea. By all means, drink those six glasses and stay hydrated. But resist drinking a lot before bed unless you want to get up to pee in the middle of the night. The choice is yours, but keep in mind how it will affect your sleep, according to MacMillan.
13. Get All Angry
If you can't call your mom without arguing, or go on Facebook without getting embroiled in a heated debate, then do your best to avoid these things before bed. It's not a good idea to get all wound up, according to Sugar — especially when you're about to go to sleep.
After all, the evening should be a time to relax, unwind from the day, and get ready for bed. If you can treat it like a sort of ritual, you should be set for a great night's sleep.
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