Five Things to Avoid Before Bedtime
By: Brian Acton
Getting a restful, rejuvenating sleep requires more than a reasonable bedtime. It can be just as important to properly set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Our activities leading up to bedtime can actually have a profound effect on our quality of sleep. There are several activities that can actually hinder your ability to get a restful night of shuteye.
Here are five things to avoid before bed if you want a healthy, refreshing night’s sleep:
Anyone who’s suffered a hangover already knows that too much alcohol will not help you feel rested and refreshed. But, since alcohol can help you doze off quickly, you might think a few drinks can help you get your rest.
But alcohol can actually have the opposite effect. Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood of snoring. It also can increase the amount of times you need to wake up to use the bathroom. Finally, once the alcohol has metabolized in your system, you actually are more prone to fitful, restless sleep.
Our cell phones, tablets and other gadgets can dominate our waking lives, and it can become difficult to separate from them. But tech can hurt your chances for a good night’s sleep in a number of ways:
Sleep Cycle: the light produced by cell phones, laptops, and television screens has been shown to restrict the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
Alertness: technology that keeps you engaged – like video games, or work emails – keeps your mind active and alert. This can make it harder to relax and fall asleep.
Wakeups: if you keep your television on or your phone on your nighstand, ambient noise or notifications can wake you up.
You may want to avoid tech for at least a half hour before bed and turn off all phone notifications except your morning alarm. If you need to relax with some entertainment, try a (paper, not electronic) book.
Large or Fatty Meals
Eating a large, greasy, or fatty meal can disrupt your sleep. Your body best digests food while upright. When you’re lying down after a large meal, your body isn’t digesting food in the best way. You’re also working hard to digest your food, which can wake you up. Fatty foods especially tend to decrease the amount of REM sleep we get.
Strenuous exercise should tire you out, right? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean you’re going to fall asleep immediately after a tough workout. Intense workouts raise our body temperature and heart rate, which can make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep. Avoid strenuous workouts less than a few hours before bed.
Of course you know you shouldn’t drink an espresso right before hopping into bed. But caffeine can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep much longer than you might think, up to six hours or more. That includes the caffeine found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. A good rule is to avoid caffeinated products like these a few hours before bed, and you may want to avoid coffee anytime after noon.