14 activities impacting sleep: Things you shouldn't do before bed
When you’re trying to get your sleep schedule in order, there are things you should do and things you shouldn’t. We focus so much on what we should be doing, that sometimes we forget to focus the habits that might be holding us back the most.
You could be missing something that is reducing the quality of your sleep. Below we’ll go over 15 activities that you should avoid to make the most of your sleep routine. Don’t worry, there are many ways you can get rid of these bad sleep habits for good.
1. Playing on your phone
There is a blue light emitted by electronics that tricks your brain into thinking that it is daytime. So, if you’re on your phone before bed, your brain is stimulated and wide awake. In fact, this light inhibits your brain from producing its natural melatonin, which serves to trigger your mind to feel tired. Think about it like this: the light from your phone is fooling your brain into not recognizing that it is tired!
It’s hard to do, but one of the best starting points for good sleep hygiene is to put your phone down at least two hour before bedtime. Consider giving yourself a curfew. Make sure that you get everything done before curfew.
Caffeine is a daily part of many people’s lives. What they fail to realize is that caffeine is a stimulant that stays in the body. Even though you have a coffee in the morning, it is still active in your body hours later.
In fact, you can still feel caffeine in your body up to six hours after ingesting it. Remember, tea can be just as caffeinated as coffee. So, if you must drink one of these beverages in the afternoon, make sure to switch to decaffeinated. Learn more about how caffeine affects sleep here.
3. Eating and drinking
Lots of people love a late-night snack, but this is another mistake. The closer you eat or drink to your bedtime, the more uncomfortable you will be when you try to sleep.
You can have a small snack, but it could still cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to seek out a bathroom. The best thing that you can do is stick to a consistent schedule. Eat at least two hours before bed to give your body a chance to digest.
4. Alcohol and THC
Having a glass of alcohol or smoking THC before bed is thought to be relaxing. However, these substances will interrupt your sleep patterns. You might not have issues falling asleep, but you’ll have a shallower sleep until they process out of your body.
It’s best to go to sleep without any alcohol or drugs. If you must have a glass of wine, or THC, at night, you should do so hours before bed. The lighter your sleep, the easier it will be for you to wake up.
5. Afternoon naps
You’re tired after a long day, and it’s tempting to take a nap on the couch. Unfortunately, this will completely throw off your sleep schedule. It does depend on the length of the nap, but it’s generally not a good idea.
If you must take a nap, you could take a 30 min nap, then go to bed at the same time. Anything longer than 30 minutes and it’s like you’re resetting your sleep clock.
6. Late-night exercise
You’re supposed to be relaxing at night, not getting your endorphins pumping. When you exercise, it releases cortisol into the blood, which makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. Your night time activities should be soothing.
If you must exercise you should choose stretching, yoga, or pilates. Alternatively, meditation will center your thoughts and help you fall asleep faster. You should save any strenuous workouts for the morning.
7. Arguing before bed
You need to be balanced mentally, physically, and emotionally before you try to sleep. Have you ever tried to go to bed when you’re upset? You just stare at the ceiling.
If you know that you can’t talk to someone without getting worked up, then you should just save that conversation for the next day.
Many people put their phones on silent at a certain time, to avoid any unnecessary drama impacting their sleep.
8. Watching a movie
Watching movies right before bed can make it difficult for you to sleep. If you’re watching a scary movie, you could end up having nightmares. Honestly, you could have nightmares from any movie.
Watching a movie keeps your brain awake and stimulated, save movies for a few hours before bedtime. You shouldn’t be watching movies in bed anyway, because your bed should just be for sleep.
9. Working right up to bedtime
Carrying leftover work home can be frustrating for many reasons. If you work from home, it is even harder to designate personal time away from your workload. When you choose to work before bed, your brain is firing on all cylinders.
There is no time for you to relax and get prepared for bed, because your mind is stuck on work. You should use a scheduling app if you have a difficult time separating your time.
Remember, you need to give your mind time to slow down so it’s important to finish with work well before bed so you’r mind has adequate time to shift into sleep mode.
10. Driving right before bed
Some people find a late-night drive relaxing, but this is another activity that wakes you up. Staring at headlights are like seeing individual beams of sunshine. Once you get back to your house, you’re energized, and it takes you even more time to settle down.
If you have errands to run, try to get them done during the day. Two hours before bed should be focused on relaxation and eventually your bedtime routine.
11. Sleeping with pets
We love our pets, but they can climb all over us. If your pet is keeping you up get them their own bed for the bedroom.
If that doesn’t work, then you could lock them out. It’s up to you, some people actually sleep better with their pets.
12. Skip winding down
You need to take time for yourself after your day is over to decompress. If you get into bed all angsty, then you’ll end up taking longer to fall asleep.
Even using simple breathing exercises and meditation can be a quick fix if you only have a short amount of time.
13. A bedroom that’s too hot
It needs to be cool for you to sleep comfortably. Even if it is the winter, experts suggest a bedroom temperature between 60-67 degrees. It might sound downright cold, but this temperature window has been shown in clinical studies (with both women and men) to be an ideal temperature for slow-wave and REM sleep.
If you feel like you are going to be cold, you can throw some extra blankets on the end of your bed. But keep the thermostat in this temperature window. Turning it higher is only going to make you wake up sweating in a few hours, and it’s not worth it. Learn more.
14. Take a nighttime bath that’s too hot
This goes along with having an appropriate body temperature for bed. Taking a bath is relaxing, but right before bed it can spike your body temperature.
This isn’t to say that a pre-bedtime bath is bad. Baths can be a nice part of your pre-sleep routine, but you need to make it part of the beginning and make sure it’s not too hot of a bath. You should give yourself an hour to get back to a normal body temperature before you go to bed.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve been keeping yourself up with these sleep suppressing activities without realizing it. These are common mistakes. The good news is that you now have a few more opportunities to improve your sleep!
Remember, rebuilding a healthy sleep routine takes time, consistency and a bit of gradual experimentation. Try to ease your way into it and track your success with the Remrise sleep tracker, to monitor your success.