by Katie Waldeck
Oh, the power of a good night’s sleep. A whole gamut of positive benefits can be seen from getting enough rest, but for many of us, hitting the sack can be challenging. There’s plenty of advice out there about what to do to get to sleep but what about what not to do? Click through for some of the pre-bedtime activities that could be hurting your chance at getting a good night’s sleep.
No, you don’t get to ditch your yoga mat or running shoes all together. Exercise is a vital activity for your health, and can actually contribute to getting better-quality sleep. The problem, though, is that exercising within three hours of bedtime can raise your body temperature, and make dozing off more difficult. Breaking a sweat, then, is best left for earlier in the day!
2. Watch TV/Surf the Web
Studies have shown that pre-slumber screen time can impede your body’s ability to fall asleep. The likely culprit? Well, the bright lights of these screens can hinder the development of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. So close that laptop and turn off that TV about an hour before bed.
3. Take a Hot Shower/Bath
Like exercise, hot showers and baths can actually help you fall asleep. The problem, however, comes out of taking one too close to the time you plan on hitting the sack. Being overheated or sweating can make it difficult to sleep. Let your body cool down before heading off to bed.
4. Drink Too Many Fluids
Caffeine, of course, and alcohol both make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. But drinking a lot of any liquid within the last hour or two before you go to bed will lead to those dreaded late night bathroom breaks, and further disrupt your slumber. You shouldn’t go to bed thirsty, however, as you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. Balance is key here.
6. Read Engrossing Stories
Many of us have done this: you’re reading a really interesting novel and you tell yourself, “Oh just one more page!” Suddenly, it’s 2AM and you have to be awake in four hours. Yep, reading a really interesting book, essay or novel before bed will make it difficult to get to sleep. Perhaps you can remedy it by finding the most boring thing imaginable to read?!
7. Cuddle With Your Pets
As a child, I always wanted to have my beloved pet chihuahua sleep in my (twin) bed. And then came the reality: it’s amazing how much space a 6 pound creature can take up, and how grumpy chihuahuas can be when you disturb their slumber. The point is, sleeping with a pet in your bed can seriously disturb your sleep.
8. Have Serious Conversations
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “don’t go to bed angry.” And, as it turns out, it’s totally accurate! Research has shown that sleeping directly after a fight or traumatic experience will effectively preserve your emotions until you awake. The human body is adverse to falling asleep in dangerous situations — it’s a defense mechanism. Thus, you’ll have a much harder time falling asleep after a big blowout. It’s best to resolve conflicts before you hit the sack.