Have you been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? You may be unknowingly engaging in activities that are making restful sleep more difficult. Good sleep hygiene is important. It’s important to practice good habits so that you can get the quality sleep you need and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. When you don’t get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you’re setting yourself up for mistakes on the job, foggy thinking, and potentially life-threatening accidents.
“Each year the cost of sleep disorders, sleep deprivation and sleepiness, according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, is estimated to be $15.9 million in direct costs and $50 to $100 billion a year in indirect and related costs. And according to the National Highway Safety Administration, falling asleep while driving is responsible for at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year in the United States,” notes the American Psychological Association.
Here are three behaviors to avoid before bedtime.
1. Bringing technology with you
Don’t bring your smartphone, iPad, or other tech gadget to bed with you. It will be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep if you do this. A recent Bank of America consumer trends report found that roughly 71% of survey respondents sleep with their smartphones and 23% actually fall asleep with their tech tool in their hand. It’s time to break free from the dependence and reclaim your bed.
“In the evening, power down electronics at least an hour before bed to avoid both the mental and physical stimulation from these devices,” Dr. Natalie Dautovich, National Sleep Foundation environmental scholar, told The Cheat Sheet.
2. Consuming caffeinated beverages
Although a caffeine rush may help you get a boost so that you can meet an impending deadline or stay up to take care of a newborn, it will wreck your sleep. Unless you like lying awake, staring at your ceiling all night, you might want to put that cup of coffee down.
“Because caffeine is a stimulant, most people use it after waking up in the morning or to remain alert during the day. While it is important to note that caffeine cannot replace sleep, it can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production… Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated,” notes the National Sleep Foundation.
If you are sensitive to the adrenaline rush from exercise, you may not want to do a full workout before it’s time to go to sleep. Rigorous exercise can make it difficult for some people to fall asleep. It was previously thought that all people should avoid working out before bedtime, but newer studies have found this is not true for everyone. However, if you fall into the group who is affected by a pre-bedtime workout, you may want to wait until the morning. If you prefer to exercise in the evenings, it’s best to do so a few hours before bedtime. This will give your body sufficient time to power down.
“It turns out that Dr. Stuart Quan, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, has investigated this very question. In a recent CNN report, he points out that there is anecdotal evidence that some people have difficulty falling asleep after vigorous bouts of late-night exercise, and that because of high adrenaline, increased brain activity, and a difficulty “winding down,” these individuals in particular should be wary of working out too close to bedtime. Dr. Quan recommends that if you fall into that group, you give yourself a few hours between your workout time and bed time to allow your body temperature to cool down to 98.6, your heart rate to return to its resting pace, and your adrenaline levels to lower,” said fitness expert Ben Greenfield.