Sleep is one of the most important things to help our body function properly. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, diabetes, increased accidents and slowing down your perceptual and motor skills. It is reported by the National Sleep Foundation that about 65% of Americans have some sort of sleeping problem. Here are bedtime habits that could be affecting your sleep.
Reading in bed
Contrary to most beliefs, reading in bed is not the way to go. It is said reading in bed will help relax you and prepares you for a good night sleep while actually reading in bed can make sleep harder in the long run. Your body will eventually get accustomed to reading while in your bed, so on the nights you don’t read you may have a hard time falling asleep. It is recommended to read before you enter your bed. Find a spot such as a table or lounge chair, read there and when you feel tired you can go to your bed.
Consuming alcohol before bed or even on a regular basis can affect your sleep patterns. Alcohol is considered a depressant and can make you feel tired, allowing you to fall asleep faster but you are more than likely to wake up multiple times during the night. When sleeping in an alcohol induced state, you are getting more non-REM sleep then REM sleep. Studies show while a normal night sleep needs a balance between non-REM and REM to feel refreshed and recharged in the morning, so drinking alcohol will affect your sleep quality.
Smoking before bed
The nicotine in smoking is a stimulant. A stimulant will have an effect on how good of sleep you have and how long it will take you to fall asleep. Nicotine will also cause you to fall into a light sleep, or again a non-REM state of sleep. If you are going to smoke try not to do so for around 4 hours before you plan on going to bed.
Using your bed for anything other than sleep
It can be a habit to spend your leisure time doing things in bed like surfing the web on your laptop or catching up on your shows, but these things that you are so accustomed to could be affecting your sleep. The brightness of your laptop screen and television stimulates your brain which can keep your mind running even after you turn it off. Try to avoid using any electronics an hour before bed. Give yourself a chance to unwind and relax.
Even the slightest light could be keeping you awake, the little flashing light from your DVD player or the light from your alarm clock. You should adjust these things to be turned away from you while sleeping so they don’t distract you. You could also invest in a sleep mask to wear over your eyes, this will block out any lighting and help your sleep tremendously.
Tips to improve your sleeping habits
-Try avoiding any sleeping pills as you could fall into routine with them.
-Try to get on a sleep schedule even on the weekends, stay in a 1 to 2 hour range of when you go to sleep. Switching nights as in sleeping at 10 PM one night then falling asleep at 4 AM the next will change your sleep patterns and make it harder to fall asleep the next day.
-Don’t use your bed for anything except for sleep.
-Drink a cup of warm, not hot, milk a half hour before bed.
-Do not eat at least 4 hours before bed.
-Do not exercise 3 hours before bed.