Many health-conscious people have a strong awareness of nutrition, exercise, and health but usually neglect sleep. Without adequate sleep, all these attempts to achieve a healthier lifestyle may be not be accomplished as expected, and you may not even recognize it.
Sleep is related to almost everything -- your mood, hunger, and athletic performance. Here are 20 sleep habits you are probably making and how to improve them and get that good night's sleep every night
1. Too Much Light
That TV glares or a light coming from your lampshade might affect your sleep. It may seem outrageous, but your body prefers a dim environment to trigger the proper release of melatonin. This hormone helps set the mood for your overnight sleep cycles, where additional hormone changes occur.
A study published in JAMA explains that exposure to artificial light was associated with weight gain in women. Those who sleep with a huge amount of light in their room had a 17% higher risk of gaining 11 pounds by the time the study was conducted. Related studies have also linked poor lighting scenarios to obesity, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer
2. Not Unplugging
Yes, we do feel guilty crouching over the blue light of our smartphones, tablets, or laptops when it's already time to sleep. According to a Harvard Medical School report, the blue light from phones can disrupt your melatonin and sleep cycle. Additionally, the failure to stay away from checking messages and scrolling through Instagram leaves your mind racing, making it harder to fall asleep.
Red light has been discovered to be the least disrupting, which is why it's prominently present on so many clocks. Try making it a sleep habit shutting off the screens at least 60 minutes before you call it a night
3. Excessive Naps
Napping during the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. You can nap as much as you need, but avoid napping for longer than 20 minutes—or it'll wake you up feeling groggy. The best time to take a nap is around early afternoon since any time after 3 pm can probably interfere with your nighttime sleep. Rest in a dark and cool room (avoid napping in front of the blaring TV), set the alarm for 20 minutes, and don't hit Snooze.
4. Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine is a stimulant that raises your heart rate and affects blood flow. While tolerance varies and others may underestimate the power of caffeine, a jolt of it will give you a buzz.
Caffeine stimulates your body for up to 12 hours after taking, and at least half of the caffeine you had from breakfast can last up until the evening.
It doesn't only keep you awake longer than you want; it can also restrain your ability to achieve a night of deep, restorative sleep.
5. Lack of Sleep
International sleep expert Matthew Walker of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, states that seven to nine hours is the sweet spot for adequate sleep. Having less than seven hours of sleep a night is where the brain and body functions start to be negatively altered.
Stress is a prominent reason for some who find it difficult to sleep. Stress produces chemicals that physically hinder us from sleeping. Try clearing your mind before bedtime and make an effort to think positive thoughts. Incorporating this into your sleep habits could help you sleep fully.
7. Sleeping on The Couch
Falling asleep on the couch is inevitable, but too many nights on the couch can eventually lead to back and neck pain. If you're taller than the length of your couch, you'll tend to have leg pain and numbness upon waking up. If you're used to falling asleep in front of the TV, this habit can disturb your REM sleep and may lead to bad dreams and interrupted sleep.
8. Alcohol Before Bedtime
Alcohol is a sedative, and people get deceived into thinking it will improve their sleep. The truth is: although it may initially induce sleep; yet, it usually impairs sleep throughout the second half of the night. This sleeping habit may lead to interrupted sleep patterns, leaving you that tired feeling in the morning (not to mention the hangover!
9. Snacking Before Bedtime
Snacking, particularly sugary foods before bedtime, isn't a great idea. Sugar can disrupt the chemicals in your body, making you wake up during the night. Limit all your late-night sweet treats, or opt for a protein-based snack if you're hungry.
10. Hitting Snooze Button
If you wake up feeling tired and confused, you're probably one of the many people who knock off their snooze buttons each morning. Sleep inertia has knock-on effects during the day, affecting memory, reaction time, attentiveness, and concentration. The poorer your sleep, the higher chance you tap your phone alarm multiple times for a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning.
11. Disorganized sleeping routine
Having a regular sleep routine helps you get a hassle-free rest each night and wake up with a refreshing feeling.
This sleeping habit means going to bed irregularly each night and getting up at the same time each morning. If you're undisciplined with your sleeping routine, you'll eventually interrupt your natural sleeping patterns, which can lead to insomnia and fatigue.
12. Lack of Exercise
Have you ever had an intense cardio workout and fallen asleep right away as your head hit the pillow at night? Well, then now you know the positive effect of exercise on your sleep. Thirty-minute of cardio a day can help improve your sleep.
13. Heavy Smoking
People who regularly smoke or chain smokers tend to acquire very light rest and reduced Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. They are also likely to wake up after every 3 or 4 hours due to nicotine withdrawal.
14. Lying in bed, although not sleepy
There are days when no matter how much you try to sleep, but you can't. Lying awake in bed for hours as your sleep habit isn't going to solve your sleep problem. If your mind is rushing with anxious thoughts, it's going to take longer as the brain starts associating your bed with activities that aren't connected to sleep. For instance, it's better to get out of bed and relax until you're feeling sleepy enough to go back to bed.
15. Sleeping in the Wrong Position
If you've already tried your best to sleep on your back because you thought it wouldn't give you wrinkles, you might end up having bags under your eyes instead. Sleeping position affects sleep quality, says Steven Park, MD, on webmd.com. Certain conditions call for a particular sleeping position, although not natural but could still help you sleep soundly.
Side sleeping is a great choice for people who snore or undergoing medical condition that requires their airways to remain open.
16. Not Replacing the Pillows
Pillows aren't just filled with feathers or polyester stuffing, but they're also landmines of dust mites, dead skin, and dust particles. These scraps can double the density of a pillow in three years.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, it's highly recommended to regularly wash pillows in the washing machine over its lifespan and replace it every two years. Fold your pillow in half to see if it springs back; if it doesn't expand back into shape, it's time to replace it. Waking up with a pain in your neck is also an indication.
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17. Relying on Sleeping Aids
Taking sleep aids untimely and not getting the necessary six to eight hours of sleep will not only wake you up groggy but they could also develop "rebound insomnia" if you stop taking them. They can be a health hazard for people having breathing problems or sleep apnea as they reduce the respiratory drive. If you think you badly need one, discuss it with your physician.
18. Pay Attention to the Thermostat
Your bedroom temperature can interfere with your body temperature's normal rise and fall, connected to your sleep cycle. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep experts state that a cool room, around 65 degrees, provides quality sleep.
19. Sleeping with Pets
Sharing the bed with your pets can be comforting, but they bring allergens into the bed that causes irritations in the nose. Once it gets inflamed and filled with mucus, you'll likely start snoring and will lead to inadequate sleep.
20. Messy Bedroom
According to researchers, a messy bedroom is a reminder of the tasks you didn't complete during the day. In contrast, a clean room and a bed smelling fresh can stimulate you to sleep earlier. To achieve a night of good sleep, tidy your bedroom frequently and avoid cluttering it.
Healthy Sleep Basics
Along with proper diet and exercise, sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Good sleep improves your health and quality of life in a variety of ways:
• Physical Health
It boosts peak performance and productivity. It also assists in fighting off infection, maintains a healthy weight, and prevents chronic diseases. Without proper and adequate sleep, you're more likely prone to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
• Mental Health
It helps promote a balanced mood and emotions. Without healthful sleep, you'll tend to struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression.
• Memory and Focus
It sharpens your mind to help you think clearly. Sleep helps you excel either at school or work. Without adequate sleep, you'll likely get absent-minded.
• Personal & Public Safety
It keeps you sharp and attentive. Without enough sleep, you'll possibly face an accident while driving or during work.
3 Keys to Achieve Healthy & Restful Sleep
3 Keys to Achieve Healthy & Restful Sleep
Healthy sleep requires making the appropriate choices to prioritize and protect sleep. The three keys to achieve and maintain a healthy sleep are:
Most adults require at least 7 hours of regular sleep for optimal health and productivity. But some may need more extended sleep to feel well-rested. Try to get seven or more hours of sleep every night and set a consistent bedtime routine early enough for you to get a full night of sleep.
Getting enough sleep is as important as having quality & peaceful rest. Avoid common sleep disrupters in the evening, such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Speak with your doctor if you're taking a medication that disrupts your sleep.
Lastly, sleep at the right time is as crucial as both of the key sleep essentials abovementioned. Healthy sleep is part of the everyday rhythm of life. Your body sleeps soundly at night when it's dark and functions well when you're following a routine. Try waking up concurrently every morning, and go to sleep when you feel dozy.
Note: A sleep disorder can disrupt these three key factors. Talk to your doctor about this matter or if you're having a problem that prevents you from sleeping well.
These regular sleeping habits and mistakes could ruin the quality of your sleep and eventually lead to greater damage to your body. Try making a few - or overall changes to your sleeping habits, and hopefully, you'll be able to sleep better.