It’s easy to assume that sleeping is a passive activity—after all, you’re unconscious for most of it! But, as many people who have spent countless nights tossing and turning and then woken up without feeling refreshed know, how you sleep can affect what you get out of it.
Considering how much time the average person spends asleep, it’s not a surprise that the habits you develop around sleeping can have a major impact on your physical and mental health. According to research like this sleep habits survey, people have all sorts of habits that affect the quality of rest. These are six common sleep habits, some good and some bad, that can play a significant role in your quality of life.
The Bad Habits:
- Irregular Sleep
This is one of the most common negative sleep habits because there are so many ways to achieve it. If you’re sleeping far too little some nights and then trying to catch up on other days, your body doesn’t know what to expect, and it isn’t getting what it needs. Your body needs a regular and sufficient sleep routine to recharge fully.
Irregular sleep has been linked to a host of physical health conditions, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, and an increased risk of digestive and circulatory illnesses as time goes on. To maintain a regular sleep schedule, it’s best to understand what’s disrupting your sleep. Establishing a regular nighttime routine can help.
How many evenings have you whiled away scrolling through the internet or watching TV? This might feel relaxing, but it can actually sabotage your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. That’s because the blue light from screens makes the body think it’s daytime and keeps you in a more alert state.
To improve your sleep cycle, it’s best to phase out screens a few hours before bedtime. You’ll have more success if you try to relax by reading a book or listening to music. A cool and dark environment makes for the ideal sleep environment.
- Eating Close to Bedtime
It might be tempting to have that late-night snack before going to bed, but your body will be better off if you make dinner the last thing you eat in the day. When your body is actively digesting, it makes it harder for your body to focus on sleep.
Even if you feel more tired after eating, it won’t make it any easier to sleep. Sleep is a complex chemical process that doesn’t always reflect how you feel. The same goes for drinking alcohol before bed, which can make you sleepy but also severely interferes with sleep.
The Good Habits:
The idea that exercise helps sleep might not feel natural because your heart is pumping and adrenaline is high after exercising. However, increasing your blood circulation before bed helps regulate your body systems and puts you in a good place for sleep.
That said, you want to be careful to avoid strenuous exercise too close to bedtime. If you have too many endorphins kicking in, you’ll be wide awake. Exercise a few hours before bed, or stick to light and relaxing exercise like yoga in the evening.
- Getting Comfortable
Before trying to go to sleep, make sure that you have a suitable environment for relaxing. You’ll want to take some time to wind down before sleep, and relaxing lighting and sounds can help. Certain scents like lavender oil can also relax the body and make it easier to sleep.
Few things are more critical to your sleep cycle than a good mattress and bedding. Not all mattresses are created equal, so make sure to identify the sleep position that works best for you and find a mattress that fits.
Developing good sleep hygiene begins with establishing peace of mind. Most people who find themselves lying awake thinking with stress about the day ahead or behind them. Reducing stress is key to good sleep habits, so experiment until you find a method that works for you. Some popular choices include meditation and yoga.
What you do before bed is important too. Read up on stress reduction techniques that will help keep the everyday annoyances of the world from wearing you down. A less stressed mind will find it easier to fall asleep, and someone who sleeps well will find it easier to manage stress.
The time before bed is one of the most important parts of the day. Your night sets the tone for the day ahead, and how you sleep has a major impact not just on the immediate future but on your long-term health. These simple tips can help you get the most of your sleep every night.
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