If you’re having trouble getting your z’s, your everyday habits could be why. Some of the things you do every day might actually be robbing you of much-needed rest. Getting great sleep has several benefits, including an increase in productivity and decision-making. But a lack of proper sleep can make it very hard to keep your focus, leaving you dragging through your day.
Are bad habits ruining your sleep? Here are six common habits that could be derailing your shut-eye each night.
1. Skipping Your Workout Routine
If you tend to skip your regular morning and afternoon workouts from time to time, you might actually be hurting your sleep quality. According to one study, regular aerobic exercise could help add a significant amount of quality snooze time once you hit the bed.1 If you don’t work out, now is a good time to start. And if you already have an exercise routine, stick to it to maximize good sleep.
2. Eating Too Late
If you tend to eat right before you go to bed, you may be disrupting your sleep patterns, according to one key study.
Researchers wanted to know if there was an association between eating at night and sleep quality. The study involved 52 people between and ages of 20 and 45. None of the participants smoked, none were obese, and none had reported any sort of sleep disorders.
During the study, the participants slept in a laboratory while researchers studied their sleep patterns. Otherwise, they lived their normal lives and continued their regular routines, with the exception of abstaining from alcohol completely, not drinking any caffeine in the evening, and not taking naps during the day.
The researchers asked the participants to keep diaries of the food they ate for three days, providing as much information as they could on what types of foods they consumed, how much they ate, and when they ate it.
According to the results, men who ate foods higher in fat during evening hours had lower sleep efficiency scores
– this is a measure of how much time you actually sleep compared to how much total time you spend in bed. The lower the score, the less time you’re asleep. Women who participated in the study and ate during the evening also had lower efficiency scores. It also took them longer to fall asleep than the male participants.2
The bottom line? Quash those late night urges to eat, or your sleep might suffer.
3. Exposure to Blue Light in Bed
Blue light is just about everywhere, but it’s particularly prevalent in smartphones, tablets, and other technological devices. While there are plenty of positive aspects to blue light, it can be a problem when you get into bed.
Studies indicate that continued exposure to blue light could negatively affect your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness. If you don’t have enough melatonin, it can be extremely hard to get to sleep.3
4. Drinking Alcohol and/or Caffeine
If you think that having a nightcap before you go to bed will help you get to sleep, you’re only partly right. Alcohol does act as a sedative, but it actually has a negative effect on the quality of your sleep.
Research shows that if you consume alcohol shortly before going to bed, you will have less REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
REM sleep is also known as “deep sleep,” and it’s the time when you have your most vivid dreams.4
When it comes to caffeine, you might think that drinking a cup of coffee or tea in the early evening won’t have any sort of effect on the quality of your sleep. However, caffeine can take as long as six hours to wear off, according to research, increasing the chances you’ll have disrupted sleep patterns.5
5. Sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday
After working hard during the week, it’s only natural that you’d want to stay up a little later and then sleep later on the weekend. Unfortunately, research indicates that this could have a similar effect on your body as having jet lag. The phenomenon is actually called “social jet lag.” When you sleep in, your body resets to a different internal schedule. That makes it more difficult to get good sleep when the work week starts.6
6. Taking Your Work to Bed
Speaking of work, don’t take it to bed with you. Doing so may make it hard for you to get the high-quality sleep you need to be at your best. If you work in bed frequently, your stress levels can take a hit. And remember that blue light issue?
Put away your laptop and smartphone. Work can wait. Get your z’s.7
Tips to Improve Your Sleep
So, bad habits ruining your sleep? Then change them ASAP.
Also, there are some other things that can help improve your sleep quality once you hit the bed. For example, you can improve your “sleep hygiene” by establishing a consistent schedule. If you tend to go to bed and wake up at different times, your internal clock can go haywire. Choosing a routine, and sticking to it, can go a long way toward helping you get enough rest.8
The Bottom Line
If you ever have a problem getting to sleep, don’t try to force it. Get out of bed, do something that’s relaxing, and then try again after a few minutes. If this problem happens on a regular basis, talk to your doctor, so they can recommend an effective course of action.