Many people suffer from sleep problems, and a large proportion of adults in the US and UK would probably admit to wishing they got more sleep. Often, people experience difficulty sleeping due to stress or illness, but sometimes there are causes that may be preventable and bad habits can easily be corrected.
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8 Habits You Should Kick If You Want A Good Night’s Sleep
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of snoring, which can disrupt your sleep, and it can also affect your energy levels and mood. Alcohol is a depressant, but often the drinks it is mixed with are stimulants. These can leave the body and mind in an active state, even if it’s very late and hours have passed since your usual bed time. If you like a drink in the evening, avoid drinking within 2-4 hours of going to bed and always drink in moderation. Try to avoid mixers or alcopops that contain caffeine and a lot of sugar.
Nicotine alters your energy patterns, as it is a stimulant. Smoking can also affect the natural sleep stages, causing you to wake during the night. If you smoke a lot, nicotine cravings can also prevent you from getting to sleep and trigger insomnia.
Stop being a couch potato!
It can be tempting to rush home, get into comfy clothes and slump in front of the TV after work, especially in the winter months when it’s cold outside and it gets dark early. However, if you can manage to motivate yourself to do some exercise during the day or in the early evening, this will help you to sleep. Exercise tires out the body and mind, but it also helps to channel anger and frustration and reduce stress, one of the major obstacles to a good night’s sleep. Exercise also has a host of benefits for your overall health, including a reduced risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Health experts advise five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise per week. This can include anything from jogging or working out at the gym to mountain biking, swimming or cycling.
Give up evening snacking
Many of us eat late or treat ourselves to a pre-bedtime snack, and while eating some foods during the evening can be beneficial for inducing sleep, eating before bed is not usually recommended. The body needs time to digest food and it’s generally best to leave at least 2 hours after eating before hitting the hay. It’s wise to avoid foods that contain a lot of artificial ingredients and sugars before heading to bed and also to steer clear of caffeinated hot drinks just before you go to bed. A warm drink is part of many people’s evening routine, but it’s best to try and ensure you have a gap of around 2 hours between having your nightly cup of tea or hot chocolate and going to bed. Try to stick to decaffeinated coffee and tea during the evening.
Stop taking your tablet or laptop to bed with you
A growing number of people admit to using technology such as phones, tablets and laptops in the bedroom, and this is detrimental for sleep. Your bedroom should be a comfortable, peaceful haven devoted to sleep and relaxation. Resist the temptation to check emails, look at news websites, shop online or see what’s going on in the world of social media, and focus on getting into bed and winding down. The likelihood is that if you’re stressing over work deadlines and you’re checking emails in bed, you’ll struggle to get to sleep because you’ll be busy thinking about what you need to do tomorrow.
Don’t spend hours staring at a clock
If you struggle to get to sleep, try turning off clocks and covering flashing lights on radios, stereo systems and chargers. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a clock and worrying about how little time is left before you have to get up. Make sure your room is completely dark and turn everything off before you get into bed.
Don’t make yourself go to bed if you don’t feel tired
If you don’t feel tired, the likelihood is that you’ll get into bed and then lie there, getting increasingly frustrated that you’re still awake. Go to bed once you start to feel tired and get into a routine that suits your lifestyle. Ideally, you should aim for around 7 hours per night, but everyone is different and some people prefer to go to bed early and get up early, while others are the other way around. It’s a good idea to get into a habit of devoting the later part of the evening to doing something relaxing in preparation for sleep. This may include reading a book, having a bath or listening to some soothing music.
Give up naps
If you feel tired during the day and then struggle to get to sleep at night, this probably means that you’re getting more sleep than you need, so your energy levels are out of sync. If you feel lethargic during the day, try to resist the temptation to have a nap and power through until bed time. Once you get used to this routine, you’ll find that you can get to sleep more easily at night and you won’t feel as tired during the day because you will have enjoyed a good quality sleep.
Often, even making the slightest changes to your daily routine, evening activities, lifestyle choices, or even the way your bedroom is set up, can have a really positive impact on your quality of sleep. Nothing sets you up better for the day ahead than a good night’s sleep, so if you’ve been suffering from insomnia or you’re finding it hard to switch off at night, follow these simple tips and hopefully you’ll be sleeping soundly again in no time.