We love sleep. We need sleep. You would think between the biological need and the emotional rest we get from sleep, we would prioritize it more. Instead, we find countless ways to sabotage our nighttime slumber.
Are you constantly tired? Fear that your sleep isn’t as restful as it could be? To ensure a better night’s rest, start keeping these 15 sleep saboteurs out of your bedroom (or bedtime routine):
That bedtime cigarette is just what you need to relax and get to sleep.
Wrong. Smokers forget that nicotine is both a depressant and a stimulant. What’s more, the stimulant kicks in first. As a result, smoking before bed actually makes it harder for you to fall asleep. Not to mention, it greatly increases* your risk of cancer.
After a cold winter’s day, nothing’s cozier than entering a toasty warm bedroom and diving under a pile of blankets. That is, until you try to fall asleep.
Our bodies naturally cool down when it’s time to sleep, and heavy blankets and hot rooms actually make sleeping difficult. Instead of cranking the heat before bed, turn it down. Between 65 and 70 degrees is a good range for both kids and adults (As a bonus, lowering the heat at night will save on heating costs in the Winter.).
Alcohol is an undisputed depressant. A nice glass of wine makes falling asleep a breeze.
However, while alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it isn’t without consequences. Alcohol disrupts your REM cycle, that all important restorative phase of sleeping. So while you fall asleep sooner, you don’t sleep as well — and not to mention there’s an increased risk of sleep apnea and sleep walking.
It’s not good to go to bed hungry — a rumbling tummy can be downright distracting. So while a bedtime snack isn’t a bad idea, the type of snack and eating locale can have negative effects.
Bad snacks, like fatty foods, can cause heartburn and stomach ache. They are also slow to digest, which means you may feel uncomfortably full or bloated. Brush up on snacks to eat and to avoid. And whatever you eat, don’t do it in the bedroom — the bedroom should be reserved for sleeping, not snacking.
Cool and quiet is a good rule of thumb for bedrooms.
Noise that stays at a consistent frequency and volume can sometimes be tuned out, but any noise disturbance registers with your brain and can interrupt your sleep. If there are noises outside of your control — traffic, neighbors, pets, etc. — a white noise machine can provide a consistent soundtrack that’s easier to tune out while also covering up disruptive noises.
6. Blue Light
It’s not just bright lamps or overhead lights that mess with your body’s natural routine. The blue light emitted by charging phones, laptops or other electronics is known to disrupt circadian rhythms.
Instead of charging items overnight in the bedroom, use an office or living room, or try charging them during the day.
Okay, make it cool, quiet and dark.
There’s nothing wrong with innovation and progress, but sometimes technology has unforeseen consequences. For example, the lightbulb was a fantastic invention, but artificial light not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, but it also interferes with our internal clock.
Natural sunlight is a great addition to a morning wake-up routine. Artificial light, on the other hand, tempts us to stay up later than we should.
Between the emotional wind up, the temptation to watch “just one more” episode and all the light and noise, there are plenty of reasons to kick that TV out of your bedroom.
Need another reason? Watching TV in bed delays release of melatonin, the hormone that helps induce sleep, making it biologically difficult to fall asleep.
9. Thrilling Books
So TV is a no-no, but books should be ok, right?
Many books are exciting, emotional and demand high concentration, three things that make it difficult to fall asleep. If you want to include reading as part of a relaxing bedtime routine, stick to something that’s light reading, like magazines to avoid the increase* in cognitive activity.
10. The Snooze Button
Keep this phrase in mind: “you snooze you lose*.”
You might feel that you’re sneaking in extra sleep by snoozing, but the quality of that sleep is poor at best. At worst, snoozing actually makes you more tired, not less. Short little bursts of sleep mess with —yep, you guessed it — your body’s sleep rhythms and biological clock.
If you want those extra minutes of sleep, keep them as part of your sleep total. Instead of snoozing for 10 minutes, set your alarm for 10 minutes later.
To reiterate, you should associate your bedroom with sleep (and sex). Working in bed — even if it’s “just” answering emails or returning a text — can mess up that association, making it harder to sleep. What’s worse, you’re bringing the stress of work into the bedroom and sacrificing sleep to stay constantly connected.
Make your bedroom a work-free retreat. If necessary, turn off phones or remove* electronics from the room altogether to avoid temptation.
Pets are lovable and cuddly and darling. They’re also major sleep disruptions.
Between nighttime potty breaks, pet dander and the sudden urge to play at any hour, it’s time to let Fluffy and Fido have their own sleep space — far away from yours.
A quality bed is one of the keys to a good night’s sleep.
Stop putting up with lumpy pillows and uncomfortable mattresses. Once you have the right sleep accessories, take care of them. Rotate your mattress for better wear, and wash pillows and bedding regularly to avoid dust and other disruptive allergens.
Sometimes you need a nap to make it through the day. However, most people do more harm than good with naps, whether that’s because they nap too late or for too long.
If you have to nap, do it right. Short naps taken before 3 PM are your best bet for a pick me up. Otherwise you’ll have trouble falling asleep at night, keeping you stuck in a slept-poorly-need-a-nap loop.
Spontaneity is great when it comes to romantic interludes with your partner. But when it comes to sleep? Predictability will be your best friend.
Unpredictable bedtimes and wake ups should be the first thing you banish to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, start working on a sleep schedule. Adjust your habits until you are going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. With a consistent schedule, your biological clock will sync up, and you will fall asleep easier and wake up more naturally.
Your bedroom should be a haven for rest and rejuvenation. Make sure you’re getting your best sleep by banning the bad habits, temptations and disruptions that interfere with your body’s needs and natural functions.
Summary: You would think between the biological need and the emotional rest we get from sleep, we would prioritize it more. Instead, we find countless ways to sabotage our nighttime slumber. To ensure a better night’s rest, start keeping these 15 sleep saboteurs out of your bedroom (or bedtime routine).