Get Some Shut Eye


Break these habits that are messing with your sleep

Quality sleep is important for your well-being.

Lack of it has negative consequences on your physical and mental health. “The effect of a poor night’s sleep, aside from getting very sleepy during the day, is that you also lose motivation for working or doing anything else; it is difficult to pay attention to tasks, especially if they’re boring and your reaction time is somewhat slow,” says Peter Hauri and Shirley Linde in their book No More Sleepless Nights.

Avoid These Habits That Sabotage Your Sleep:

You Sleep in On Weekends

Sleeping in on the weekends to make up for lost sleep during the work week may sound like a good idea but it’s not. “Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day,” advises Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist, “You don’t want to have two different schedules, one during the week and for the weekend. The more consistent your sleep schedule is, the better your body will function.”

You Work in Bed

Sleep doctors advise that you should use your bed for sleep and sex only. Avoid answering emails, paying bills, or working in bed. “When you use your bedroom for other activities, merely walking into your bedroom causes your brain to literally wake up because it automatically associates being in that room with being mentally alert,” says Dr Dede Bonner who specialises in health education.

You Have No Bedtime Routine

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a relaxing routine activity right before bedtime helps you separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which then makes it hard to fall and remain asleep. Do something relaxing before you hit the sack, like reading or taking a warm bath.

You Drink Alcohol to Relax Before Bed

Alcohol does help induce sleep, but not for long. In a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, alcohol may help you fall asleep but it is more disruptive to sleep especially in the second half of the night. Dr Breus advises that if you must, drink alcohol about three hours before bed so that the body can digest and metabolise it. “That way you don’t wake up in the middle of the night either with night sweats or having to go to the restroom,” he says.

You Have Caffeine Late in The Day

Caffeinated drinks like coffee, soda and chocolate are stimulants that interfere with sleep. “Try to eliminate caffeine by two in the afternoon. Most people don’t know that caffeine has a half-life of eight and ten hours so that coffee you had at four o’clock could be having an effect on your ability to sleep or may change the quality of the sleep that you are having,” says Dr Breus.

You Have Heavy Meals Before Bed

What you eat and how much, before bed, can negatively affect sleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that eating less fibre, more saturated fat and more sugar lead to lighter, less restorative and more disrupted sleep. Eating a large meal before bed may cause discomfort and because your metabolism is in high gear, nodding off would be a challenge.

You Watch the Clock

If you can’t sleep, you’re better off doing a relaxing activity rather than watching the clock to see how long you’ve slept or how long before the alarm goes off. Clock watching creates anxiety that makes it hard to get back to sleep. “Time monitoring behaviour (“clock-watching”) commonly occurs among insomnia patients, often leads to frustration about sleeplessness which perpetuates the symptoms of insomnia,” say researchers from Maimonides Sleep Arts & Sciences. Turn your clock away or put it in another room.

You Watch TV or Use Your Computer Right Before Bed

Researchers from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine found that television watching may lead to chronic sleep debt. “Watching less television in the evening and postponing work starting time in the morning appears to be the candidate behavioural change for achieving additional sleep and reducing chronic sleep debt. While the timing of work may not be flexible, giving up some TV viewing in the evening should make it possible to promote adequate sleep,” the researchers advised in their report.

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