Daytime Habits that are Sabotaging your Sleep from Daytime Habits that are Sabotaging your Sleep
Daytime Habits that are Sabotaging your Sleep
Daytime Habits that are Sabotaging your Sleep
Between 50 and 70 million adults in the U.S. alone have some type of sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With a multitude of adverse health effects, insufficient shut-eye is an important public health concern. Sleepless nights are no fun, but the next day is even worse. If you’ve had issues getting to sleep or staying asleep, the root of the problem may lie in your habits—are you damaging your sleep quality?
Watching TV before bed
Too much screen time before bed is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Televisions emit blue light, which affects the levels of the sleep-inducing melatonin more than any other wavelength, Dr. Karl Doghramji, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, says. Another problem is what you’re watching. Chances are a movie or a late show that you find will be more stimulating than relaxing, keeping you awake.
Alcohol is eliminated from the body rapidly and causes withdrawal symptoms two or three hours later, Dr. Doghramji says, which has a negative reaction. “You wake up very often but very briefly, and you don't even remember,” he adds. Studies have shown that in healthy people, acute high alcohol doses disturb sleep, whereas in insomniacs, lower doses may be beneficial. People fall asleep quicker after drinking, but alcohol reduces rapid eye movement. REM sleep is when we dream and actually rest.
Taking a shower too late
A study has shown how the body temperature naturally dips at night, beginning about two hours before sleep, reaching its lowest point around 4 a.m. That’s why artificially raising your temperature by taking a bath, hot shower, or going into a sauna right before it’s Zzz time may prevent you from dozing off. The drop in temperature is a signal to the body that it’s time to sleep.
You’re keeping your house too warm
You’ve probably suffered through a sleepless summer night where it was just plain hot and uncomfortable. A room that’s too warm can be an issue even in the winter. Just a few degrees can mean the difference between a relaxing sleep and tossing and turning all night. In a study, wearing a cooling cap helped insomniacs snooze almost as well as people without sleep problems.
Quick power naps, which may be a secret to living a long, happy life, can make you more alert. Napping during the day is especially beneficial to people who work in shift, according to Dr. Doghramji. The best kind of nap is 20-30 minutes long and taken around the same time during the day, he adds. Avoid extended naps after 4 p.m. because they can mess with your ability to fall asleep later.
Consuming caffeine late in the day
Caffeine, a stimulant and one of the most dangerous legal drugs, is a “bad idea for a lot of people because it affects sleep adversely,” Dr. Doghramji says. It stays in your body for more than seven hours, though some people can process it faster than others. Don’t consume anything with caffeine after lunch or 3 p.m. Even if you are able to fall asleep, you may not enter the deep sleep phase, which is when your brain really rests.
Sitting too much
People sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, a study, cited by the National Sleep Foundation, has found. The results of a nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, show that people who exercised 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week (the national guideline) had a 65 percent better sleep. People also said that they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity.
Sleeping in on weekends
Research shows that chronic sleep loss is not easy to recoup. Getting up at 6 a.m. every day, and then suddenly sleeping until 1 p.m. on weekends, disrupts the body’s internal clock. Don’t extend your wakeup time during the weekend by more than an hour or you’ll pay the price. The lingering effect of chronic sleep loss causes performance to deteriorate dramatically.
Eating close to bedtime
Eating causes secretion of acid in the stomach which then goes to the esophagus. “Unfortunately, the body has to be awake to get rid of it,” Dr. Doghramji says. “That’s just how physiology works. He recommends not eating at least four hours before bedtime. Also avoid drinking too many liquids. The acid from the stomach reflexes into the esophagus, just like food.
You consume many toxic chemicals when you smoke. Nicotine will keep you awake and damage your sleep cycle. Research shows that circadian clock function is disrupted by environmental tobacco, hurting the quality of your shuteye time. Smoking decreases the levels of SIRTUIN1, a molecule that alters the levels of the protein that control the body clock.
Not getting enough sun
A study examined 49 people who work during the day –27 of them were in windowless workplaces and 22 in workplaces with windows. The conclusion was that more natural light exposure during the day resulted in more restful sleep at night. Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.
You’re on your phone for too long
Evening light is shifting your biological rhythm in the wrong direction. Your body needs darkness to produce melatonin, which puts you to sleep. The brightness from the screen of your smart phone or tablet prevents that from happening. Studies have also found that it doesn’t matter when you’re on your phone for too long. Both duration and quality of sleep decreased as smartphone screen time use increased.
You’re eating the wrong foods
Research shows that people with the healthiest sleep patterns have the best and most diverse diets. Some foods, such as bananas, chick peas, turkey, and sweet potatoes, contain natural substances that help bring on sleep.
Working in bed
Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. Don’t use your bed as an office for answering phone calls and responding to emails, according to Harvard Medical School. The bed has to play the role of a sleeping stimulant, not restlessness. The body gets used to not being at rest in bed which will eventually make it harder and harder to fall asleep.
Sleeping with your pet
Snuggling up to your pets in bed increases sleep disturbances throughout the night, and it ultimately decreases the total quality of sleep, research shows. Sixty-three percent of pet owners who slept with their pet more than four nights a week, regardless of the type of pet, were shown to have poor sleep quality. Five percent said they always or almost always had trouble going back to sleep once they were awakened by their furry friend.