You do what you can to prioritize sleep, but life gets in the way – and your PM (or sometimes AM) plans can go awry even with the best of intentions. While you may know the basics of good sleep hygiene (dark room, cool and quiet space, and so on), you could potentially be making some major sleep mistakes throughout the day that are preventing you from the quality sleep you deserve.
Learn some of the most common sleep errors and how to create better sleep habits so you can get those precious ZZZs that are so crucial to supporting your mind and body.
Letting your kids and pets sleep with you.
We know, we know – sometimes you just need to sleep, and that means letting your kids crash in your bed or keeping the door open for pets to go in and out. However, letting your bed become a landing spot for all members of your house, furry or not, doesn’t create great sleep hygiene for anyone. While bad dreams happen, you’ll all sleep better when you’re in your own beds. Encourage healthy sleep habits for your kids and make their bedroom a place they feel safe and comfortable spending the night and train your dog to sleep on a separate bed nearby if you can.
Falling asleep to TikTok, Twitter, or TV.
Scrolling your phone in bed is one of the worst things you can do before sleep. Digital devices like your phone or tablet emit blue light, which can interfere with your body’s natural release of melatonin, which signals to your brain that it’s time for sleep. If you’re finding it difficult to stop texting and tweeting before bed, turn your phone on night mode and set the “do not disturb” during your sleep hours so you’re not distracted by the buzz of notifications.
Having a nightcap … or two.
Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it can also seriously mess with your sleep quality – not to mention your breathing! Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your reactions, your heart rate, and your respiratory system, making it a key contributor to snoring. While having a few drinks before bed can help you fall asleep faster, it also impacts your REM cycle and leads to more disruptions throughout the night.
Exercising too close to bedtime.
If you must move your body pre-hitting the pillow, try something gentle and less strenuous, like ten minutes of stretching or some slow yoga poses. Getting too in the zone with vigorous exercise an hour or so before bed means your body can’t wind down and relax. The Sleep Foundation recommends trying to schedule your workout about four hours before bed if possible. Try to get your heart-pumping cardio done in the AM and you’ll enjoy the burn all day long.
Straying from a routine.
Your brain and body thrive on a routine, especially when it comes to bedtime. Remember when you were a kid and you did the same steps each night: bath, pajamas, toothbrush, story time, lights out? Replicate that as a grown up for better sleep success; consider a bath or another relaxing ritual, some journaling or meditation to clear your mind before you hit the sheets, and reading instead of watching Netflix.
Going to bed when you’re stressed or upset.
Those feelings of anger and stress can literally keep you up at night. When you head to bed with unresolved emotions or something weighing heavily on your mind, it’s practically impossible to let go and unwind. You know that old adage “Never go to bed angry?” There’s a lot of truth in that! Try to work out any conflicts before bed, write a list of your to-dos to get them off your mind, or journal out your frustrations, imagining that once they’re out on the page, they’re out of your mind for the night.