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Habits That Are Ruining Your Sleep

When you have a busy schedule, it is understandable that it might be hard to get enough sleep. But could the things you do be affecting how well you rest and
for how long? Do you think there are any habits that could be keeping your brain from shutting off?

Scientific studies have shown that the answer to those question happens to be a ‘yes.’ Here are a couple of innocent habits that are probably the reason your sleep quality suffers so much:

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1. You Love Being Productive at Night

It’s important to finish work earlier in the day so it does not weigh heavily on the mind. If you must work after the sun has set, wind yourself down before you decide to sleep.

Not sure how to quiet all those thoughts racing through your mind? A hot shower can relax the tense muscles that might be preventing relaxation. You could also mediate or listening to some familiar music you find soothing to the mind.

2. Weekend is The Time to Catch Up

There is a widespread belief that you are able to ‘catch up on your sleep’ during the weekends. We accrue what W. Christopher Winter calls a “sleep debt.” It’s always possible to lose sleep, but to truly ‘catch up’ on your sleep is not.

What you can do is make sure your next night of sleep is at least 7 hours. If you are feeling exhausted, you can take a few naps on the weekend. Set an alarm to make sure you don’t end up sleeping for longer than you intend.

3. You Check Facebook Before Bed

Our sleep patterns are governed by something called a circadian rhythm and uses light to tell us if we should be awake or asleep. According to Dr. Neil Kline, DO, a board-certified internist, “Bright light is used as a very powerful time cue to influence the brain into believing it’s a certain time of day.”

Whether the light comes from a television, a lamp, or our phone, the human brain cannot differentiate between those and sunlight. The blue light in a phone’s screen is notorious for activating the part of the brain that keeps us awake.

Checking your social media before bed can leave your mind racing while your body aches for rest. If you can manage it, unplug two hours before you hop into bed. Can’t help watching your favorite shows on Netflix? Watch them on tv without the lights on. That way your mind can find it easier to slow down and shut off for the night.

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4. You Read in Bed

Some people might wind down by reading a book they’ve been meaning to finish. When I was in high school, it was a regular occurrence for me to read at least a chapter or two before I went to bed. But, “You don’t want to associate the bed with activities associated with wakefulness,” warns Dr. Kline.

And if you have anything like an eReader, that backlight will give you the same effect as a cellphone screen, confusing your body. Give yourself indirect light to keep it out of your eyes, while you sit in bed and read a physical copy of a book.

5. You Brush Your Teeth Right Before Bed

A lot of bathroom lights are purposely bright, in case someone fancies putting on makeup. Brushing your teeth right before bed can expose you to the unnecessary light, triggering a second wind.

Peppermint-flavored toothpaste or anything minty might also pile on, making the brain even more active. “If you’re struggling with this, try brushing your teeth early,” advises W. Christopher Winter, MD, president of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Clinic.

6. You Blast The Heat at Night

The temperature in our rooms has just as much to do with the light we are exposed to. “Our bodies have a rhythm to body and brain temperature,” states Dr. Kline. It is normal for our bodies to enter a relaxed state in lower temperatures. High temperatures tell your body it’s earlier in the day, even at 10 pm.

The National Sleep Foundation said experts recommend a steady temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Getting rest in a cooler environment will relieve both the body and mind.

7. You Sleep in Cozy Pajamas

It’s nice to get yourself a set of cool or expensive pajamas, but sleeping in them might be making your body hotter than it needs to be. Dr. Winter recommends choosing blankets over clothing to keep warm. “Create your warmth with bedding that can be pulled on a taken off throughout the night. If you wake up too hot you can kick the covers off, and when you start getting cold again, pull them back up.”

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