How To Break Bad Sleeping Habits: Advice From One Troubled Sleeper To Another
I have been unable to achieve restful sleeps for a huge portion of my life. I toss and I turn. I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep. For my first post, I thought it would be fitting to share with you, some of my experiences with sleep issues and offer some tips that have helped me the most. I hope that by following my advice below, you will be able to achieve more restful sleeps on a regular basis.
Five Poor Sleeping Habits:
1) Bringing Technology Into Your Bed
I have an incredibly unhealthy relationship with my IPad. I love bringing it to bed with me and checking my Pinterest, Instragram, and Facebook accounts before I sleep. When I got Netflix, my IPad made it ridiculously easy for me to watch my favourite movies and TV shows from the comfort of my own bed.
Why is this habit so bad for you? Our eyes are extremely sensitive to the light emitted from electronic screens. The light tricks our bodies into thinking that it is still day time so our minds stay active. For a better sleep, try to stop using your devices 1 hour before getting into bed, do not check emails in bed, and avoid falling asleep in front of a screen.
2) Irregular Wake Up and Sleep Times
Consistent wake up and sleep times are important to creating a healthy sleep schedule. When you stay up late on weekends, readjusting to your work week sleep schedule may be more difficult than anticipated. As a consequence to staying up late on Friday and Saturday, you may have difficulty falling to sleep on time on Sunday evening. You may also be groggy, tired, and inattentive when you head back to work on Monday.
I acknowledge that most people will be unable to get up and sleep at the same time every day. We have holiday gatherings, birthday parties and other social outings which make it difficult for us to stick to a fixed sleep schedule. Just remember that the longer you sleep in past your normal wake up time, the harder it will be to fall asleep at night. Try not to diverge from your regular sleeping schedule for increments of time any longer than an hour.
3) Drinking Alcohol Before Bed
Everyone knows that consuming too much caffeine, or having caffeine later in the day affects your ability to fall asleep as well as stay asleep – but did you know that alcohol has just as great of an effect on your body too? Alcohol may make you feel drowsy and induce sleep faster but your rest will be influenced depending on how much alcohol you have consumed. Alcohol has been known to disrupt REM sleep, the restorative portion of a sleep cycle. Common side effects of interrupted REM sleep cycles include grogginess and fatigue.
If you are going to drink, avoid consuming alcohol before bed, do not drink excessively, and stop drinking after dinner for a more restful sleep. Always make sure you drink lots of water whenever you drink alcohol to keep your body hydrated – but be careful with the timing of your water intake, as frequent bathroom breaks in the middle of the night can also be disruptive of your sleep!
4) Napping Too Long
There is some debate as to whether it is okay to nap at all. Most discussions conclude that as long as your nap is short enough that you’re not wired when you want to sleep at night, a nap should not ruin your sleep schedule. Set an alarm when you take a nap. Aim for an hour of sleep or less to ensure that your nap does not interfere with falling asleep at your regular bedtime.
5) Being Preoccupied With Stressful Thoughts
Not being able to shut my brain off has probably been the biggest cause of my sleeping issues. Our minds seem to have a knack for running wild just as we are about to fall asleep. You’re lying in bed and all of the sudden you start making a mental to-do list for the week. You may be dreading the hundreds of emails you have to return tomorrow. Maybe you’re replaying some embarrassing event that happened five years ago and forgot about until now. Literally anything could be creeping into your mind at night which causes you stress, anxiety, and ultimately stops you from sleeping.
I realize that it’s easier said than done, but when your mind is full of stressful thoughts, try to get rid of them as soon as you can. The faster you leave your stressed and anxious state, the faster you will relax enough to sleep. Refrain from checking the clock every 5 minutes. This will only make you more anxious. Try meditation, breathing exercises, reading or making a cup of tea. Do any activity that you know will calm you down. It is okay to leave your bed if you think that a new task or change in location will help you become tired.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully some of these tips will help you as much as they have helped me. If you have any other tips or suggestions for building a healthy sleep routine, feel free to share them in the comment section below.
Wishing you a sound and restful sleep tonight!
Author: Claire Ford
Clinical Receptionist | Social Media Specialist | Toronto Health & Fitness Advocate
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