These days, it isn’t always easy to get that doctor-recommended eight hours of sleep. With our phones always at our sides, tight day-to-day schedules, and the stress of everyday life, sleep can definitely be elusive. And oftentimes, we don’t even bother trying to make up for that lost time. However, by making a few simple changes in your routine, you can achieve a much healthier and more beneficial sleep cycle.
Here are nine ways you’re sabotaging your sleep Cycle:
Nowadays it’s no secret that your phone can seriously affect your sleep. Devices like cellphones, laptops, and televisions give off blue light, which significantly reduces melatonin production. Without as much melatonin, it becomes much harder to fall and stay asleep. Plus, that last email check before bed can keep your brain going when it really should be slowing down. So, try to put your phone down for good long before you lay down to sleep.
Similar to the blue light of technology, regular lights can also harm your sleep cycle. Keeping lights on in your bedroom confuses your circadian rhythm, which cues your body into when you should be awake- or asleep. Lights can make your body believe it’s daytime when it’s really night, meaning your body won’t know to produce melatonin in preparation for sleep. Therefore, it’s best to sleep in darkness or with a small nightlight and allow natural light to wake you in the morning.
Now, everyone understands the struggle of finding the perfect sleep temperature. However, the temperature really has an effect on your sleep. While the best temperature to sleep varies, research has shown that extreme heat and cold are both detrimental to sleep. Not only do these factors cause wakefulness, but they also keep you from reaching REM sleep, which is significant in a healthy night’s rest. That means a solid 65 degrees is probably the way to go.
While many people find alcohol to be good for sleep, it actually has serious detriments. Although it causes an individual to fall asleep faster, the quality of sleep is majorly harmed. This happens because alcohol enhances non-REM sleep rather than REM sleep, making your sleep less restorative. Additionally, increased alcohol intake can cause more frequent bathroom breaks in the middle of the night. So, try skipping out on alcohol before bed for a healthier sleep.
It should be no surprise that caffeine has a negative effect on sleep. Drinking coffee before bed can increase your heart rate and alertness, making it more difficult to fall asleep. However, it’s important to note which drinks and foods include caffeine, as many teas are popular before bed. Therefore, remember to avoid coffee, teas (matcha, green tea, black tea), chocolate, and soda.
6. Heavy Meals
Even though midnight snacks are a popular nighttime activity, eating before bed can be harmful rather than helpful. While eating healthy has been linked to good sleep, eating heavy, fatty foods before bed can cause lighter, less restorative sleep. So try eating meals farther away from bedtime, and if you do snack, try to eat something light and healthy.
7. Long Naps
Although it may seem that naps are helpful when you’re tired, studies show that long naps can actually hurt your sleep cycle. The amount of time you nap is imperative to your nighttime sleep. A 20-minute nap can create the refreshing benefits of sleep, however, any more than that can leave you feeling groggy. However, a 90-minute nap may be ideal, because you will have completed a full sleep cycle in that time. Try lessening your naps, especially if you already have a troubled sleep cycle to promote deep sleeping at night.
8. An Irregular Sleep Schedule
This should come as no surprise that an irregular sleep schedule will inevitably hurt your sleep cycle. Whether you sleep at odd hours due to work, insomnia, or just having too much to do, this practice can actually harm your health. By not getting a consistent amount of sleep at the same time every night, your metabolism can be affected which in turn, hurts your energy levels. So when you can, turn in at a regular time and sleep through the night.
Of course, this last factor may be the most uncontrollable and annoying of them all. Stress typically makes a person irritable and feeling scatter-brained. These high energy levels, linked to anxiety, can keep you awake way more than you want to be. Unfortunately, the problems will only continue as a lack of sleep only increases irritability and may affect how sharp your mind is. While it can be tough to keep your stress away from your sleep, some habits like meditation and journaling may be helpful in relieving stress and helping you get a better night’s rest.
While it may seem impossible to fix your sleep cycle, it only takes a few simple changes to make a positive impact. If you find yourself practicing any of these bad habits, try to make a change and see how well your sleep improves. Better sleep can improve all aspects of your life including work, relationships, and moods. So, let us know which habit makes the most difference in your sleep cycle!
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