Bad Sleep Habits and How to Break Them
The science of sleep has come a long way in recent years. In the past, researchers could only dream of understanding what goes on while we snooze. But every day brings us closer to understanding the science behind our sleep.
The stresses of modern day life have a serious impact on us that we never evolved to adapt to. Working at computers, working long hours in bright rooms and the connectivity to the world through our phones all impact how we sleep.
So, What Bad Habits Do I Have?
If you’re a fan of coffee, caffeinated drinks or tea, you could be affecting your body’s natural sleep cycle. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up this luxury. Simply ceasing to have any of these treats after 5 pm, or around 5 hours before you plan to sleep, will allow the caffeine to dissipate in time for a good night’s sleep.
Watching TV before bed is a surefire way to tell your brain to stay awake. It may seem harmless enough relaxing to a light comedy before bed but in reality, this messes with your brain’s rhythm. The artificial light can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and any subsequent sleep won’t have the restorative qualities you need.
Similar to TV, having bright lights on before bed tells your brain that it’s not time to sleep. Consider using a lamp instead of the main light. If you have to use a computer before bed, many apps and devices have ‘night mode’ which changes the color and/or brightness to help your brain understand that sleep is coming.
Texting in bed is a crutch many of us succumb to. Not only can this prevent us from falling asleep but it may disrupt your sleep with notifications and buzzes. A good habit is to tell any family and friends that you’re going to sleep, giving closure to any conversations before setting your phone on silent. Not only does this prevent disturbance but can set your mind to rest knowing that you ended your conversations, giving you less to think about as you try to doze off.
When you sleep your body devotes its resources to resting, processing the day’s events and strengthening neural links in your brain. Eating before you sleep, while difficult to avoid for professions like bartending and hospitality, means that your body is dedicating fewer resources to sleeping so that it can digest your meal.
A great way to break these habits is to have a nighttime routine. If you have a specific set of activities you do before bed it can help tell your brain that you’re planning on sleeping soon, giving it time to prepare. Setting a time where you stop using bright screens (half an hour to an hour), brushing your teeth, turning down the lights and getting into bed to read a book, can train your brain to know that when these occur sleep is coming.