Have you been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? You may be unknowingly engaging in activities that are making restful sleep more difficult. When you don’t get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you’re setting yourself up for mistakes on the job, foggy thinking, and potentially life-threatening accidents. So, it’s important to practice good habits in order to get the quality sleep you need and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Here are 10 behaviors to avoid before bedtime.
1. Bringing technology with you
Don’t bring your smartphone, iPad, or other tech gadget to bed with you. It will be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep if you do this.
“In the evening, power down electronics at least an hour before bed to avoid both the mental and physical stimulation from these devices,” Dr. Natalie Dautovich, National Sleep Foundation environmental scholar.
2. Consuming caffeinated beverages
Although a caffeine rush may help you get a boost so that you can meet an impending deadline or stay up to take care of a newborn, it will wreck your sleep. Unless you like lying awake, staring at your ceiling all night, you might want to put that cup of coffee down. As the National Sleep Foundation notes:
Because caffeine is a stimulant, most people use it after waking up in the morning or to remain alert during the day. While it is important to note that caffeine cannot replace sleep, it can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: It takes about six hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated.
If you are sensitive to the adrenaline rush from exercise, you may not want to do a full workout before it’s time to go to sleep. Rigorous efforts can make it difficult for some people to fall asleep. It was previously thought that all people should avoid working out before bedtime, but newer studies have found this is not true for everyone. However, if you fall into the group who is affected by a pre-bedtime workout, you may want to wait until the morning. If you prefer to exercise in the evenings, it’s best to do so a few hours before bedtime. This will give your body sufficient time to power down.
Here’s what fitness expert Ben Greenfield has to say:
Although anger is a healthy emotion, when it’s not handled properly, it can wreak havoc on your relationships and your health. Arguing with someone, especially right before bedtime, can put you in a state of fight or flight, making it hard to fall asleep or have a restful sleep. You’re also more likely to wake up in a pretty bad mood if you’re still dealing with an unresolved issue from the night before. Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, authors of Designer Relationships, recommend keeping the bedroom an argument-free zone.
Working too close to bedtime can make it hard to unwind. How can you drift off to sleep when all you can think about is that report that’s due the next morning? Instead, set a hard start and stop time when it comes to your work assignments. If you can, make a rule for yourself that you won’t work when you get home from the office. Your mind needs time to relax so that you can be fresh for the next day.
6. Drink excessive amounts of alcohol
You might enjoy a glass of wine or two before heading to bed, but this isn’t the best way to get a good night’s sleep. Alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker and enjoy a deeper sleep, however it can also interfere with other aspects of your rest. Studies have found consuming alcoholic beverages prior to getting some shut-eye can reduce rapid eye movement sleep, reports WebMD.
Consuming a heavy meal right before you’re about to go to sleep is asking for trouble. You’re likely setting yourself up for nighttime digestion problems. A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that eating three hours or less before going to bed is positively correlated with a risk of having acid reflux.
Unless you want to get into a car accident, don’t drive while you’re tired. Operating a vehicle during the time when you’re usually drifting off to sleep isn’t a smart move. If you’re sleepy, it’s in your best interest (and the interest of others) that you not drive. Alternatively, arrange for a designated driver or taxi to transport you. Roughly 60% of adult drivers admit to driving while feeling sleepy and 37% say they have fallen asleep at the wheel within a 12-month period, according to one poll from the National Sleep Foundation
9. Drink lots of liquids
Sure, it’s important to stay hydrated, but it could have a negative impact on your ability to stay asleep. Getting up to run to the bathroom several times during the night will make it tough to have a good night’s sleep. If you’re thirsty, drink a small amount of water instead of chugging a full glass. You’ll thank us later.
10. Watch a scary movie
Do you like watching scary movies? You might want to only watch them during the day. If you’re prone to having nightmares, the last thing you want to do is have a horror-movie marathon before diving into bed. Disturbing dreams will make it difficult to stay asleep or go back to sleep after waking up from something unnerving.