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How you’re ruining your sleep

August 9, 2022 biancabilloni

How you’re ruining your sleep

August 9, 2022 Bianca Billoni
Graphic of woman struggling to sleep

Keeping a regular sleep schedule, reading before bed, or taking melatonin supplements all can help to promote better sleep. However, what can ruin your sleep? We always seem to focus on what we can do rather than what we should stop doing to better our sleep.

Drinking a lot of water or eating a big meal before bed

Some people will rush to hydrate at the end of the day or try to fit a big meal in before bed because they skipped a meal earlier in the day. However, drinking a lot of water before bed means you’ll have to get up to take trips to the bathroom. This disrupts sleep and can delay falling asleep in the first place. Eating before bed can lead to heartburn symptoms and feeling bloated and uncomfortable. It’s better to stop eating and drinking at least two hours before going to sleep and to drink water consistently throughout the day so you’re not going to sleep thirsty.

Going to bed without winding down

Many people tend to do whatever they like until a few minutes before going to sleep. This can lead to lying in bed for a while, tossing and turning, until eventually falling asleep. This abrupt change from activity to rest does not bode well for the body. Taking at least 30 minutes to wind down before going to bed can lead to falling asleep more easily.  This time could be spent reading, journaling, meditating or doing any relaxing activity. Regardless of what you choose, your body will react appropriately to the change of pace and prepare you for sleep.

Too many disruptions or distractions

Trying to fall asleep with environmental disruptions can be a large contributor to restless sleep. These could include the temperature being too cold or too hot, high noise levels or too much light. Although these factors can be out of your control at times, usually you can take measures to counteract them. . Getting a fan or heater for your room,  putting dark curtains on your windows or wearing a sleeping mask can all help to counter environmental factors.

Using technology before bed

Watching TV, texting friends, sending emails and scrolling through social media all tend to be activities that happen in the hour or so before bed. Too much exposure to light-emitting technology, especially blue light from our phone screens, before bed can excite your brain to the point of not being able to fall asleep easily. These devices also act as a distraction to going to sleep, especially when you can access them from your bed. Try keeping your phone in another room while you sleep, or if you rely on it for an alarm in the morning, turning on do-not-disturb mode or setting limits for when you want to stop using certain apps can make a large difference.

Taking stimulants before bed

Drinking alcohol, coffee or caffeinated tea, eating candy or smoking cigarettes before bed can all disrupt sleep patterns by interfering with melatonin regulators. Although alcohol can make you sleepy, it makes for a  less restful night of sleep. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea or caffeinated foods such as candy before bed will keep you awake. Nicotine, another stimulant, messes with sleep as well and feelings of withdrawal can wake you up throughout the night. Try to avoid any of these a few hours before bed, especially if you count on having a full night of rest.

Inconsistent activity throughout the day

Getting an appropriate amount of activity throughout the day can be key for sleeping well throughout the night. This doesn’t mean doing an intense workout right before bed if you realize you haven’t exercised at all during the day. Doing this would cause your body to get energized and most likely sweaty, neither of which will help you fall asleep. Make time throughout the day to get up and move around, even if just for a couple of minutes each hour. If you tend to exercise regularly, make sure you either schedule it for earlier in the day or leave enough time between your workout and bedtime to wind down.

If any of the above reasons apply to you, hopefully now you feel like you can alter your routine to start getting a better night of sleep.

Bianca Billoni

Bianca Billoni is working as a marketing intern this summer before finishing her undergraduate degree next year in journalism and music. When she's not writing stories, watching Disney movies, or trying a new at-home workout, you can find her spending time with her cats Artemis and Apollo.

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