Getting enough sleep is vital for our health and well-being. Unfortunately, many of us don’t – 35% of the population state that they don’t get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. Consequently, inadequate sleep is quickly becoming a public health epidemic. The Center for Disease Control has deemed the widespread lack of sleep in our world as an epidemic, and for good reason.
About 40 percent of adults suffer from insomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Of course, the rising number of people who have insomnia doesn’t come as a surprise when you think about how our society runs today – many of us rush around on a daily basis, with stress heavy on our minds and hearts. Not to mention, plenty of us have adopted poor sleep habits as a result of our fast-paced world.
In order to get adequate sleep, making sure you have proper “sleep hygiene” can make a world of difference if you regularly suffer from sleep problems.
Let’s look at some common sleep habits that can contribute to poor sleep below.
Here are six sleep habits you need to avoid:
1. Using electronics before bedtime.
Countless studies have shown that the bright lights emitted from phones and computers can delay sleep for hours past your bedtime. The bright blue lights from tablets, phones and computers basically tell our brains that we need to stay awake, not go to sleep. Think about it: out in nature, the sun would tell our bodies to wake up and get our day started. So, with all these artificial lights today, we stay awake longer and longer because our brains don’t know the difference between natural and unnatural light. However, you can make things easier on yourself by turning off electronics a few hours before bed, and keeping them off during the night so they don’t awaken you with notifications.
2. Drinking caffeine too late in the day.
Caffeine sends a jolt of energy through our bodies that helps us to stay awake and feel refreshed. Drinking a few cups in the morning to help us get our day started won’t really do much harm; however, downing a cup or two close to bedtime will keep you awake well into the night. If you do drink caffeine, make sure to avoid drinking it five or six hours before bed, as it will stay in the bloodstream for hours after consumption, forcing sleep to evade you once again.
3. Thinking too much before bed.
Another bad sleep habit is allowing our minds to run wild as we’re trying to wind down for bed. We have a sleep deprived world, largely because many of us don’t know how to shut off our brains. Before bed, try doing something relaxing that will tell your brain to slow down for the day, such as meditating, yoga, taking a hot bath, or doing deep breathing exercises. These types of relaxation routines can slow your mind down and get you ready to hit the sack.
4. Worrying about losing sleep.
This can truly become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because when we lose sleep, we tend to fear it happening again and again. So, guess what happens? Since we begin to obsess over our lack of sleep, our minds create this scenario over and over again without us even doing much to make it happen. Remember, your thoughts have immense power, so instead of focusing your attention on what you don’t want to happen, try to turn your awareness toward what you do want to occur. However, don’t obsess too much about getting to sleep, either, because then it will seem like a chore to fall asleep at night.
Simply ease your way into it, and do whatever feels most relaxing to you before bed.
5. Not exercising, or working out later in the day.
Exercise releases endorphins that promote relaxation and overall well-being, and many studies have found a link between a good night’s sleep and physical activity. Our bodies were made to move, so if you live a sedentary lifestyle, all that energy is just sitting in your body, unable to be released. Could it be that so many people have sleep problems because they have pent up energy in their bodies? Possibly so. If you find that you have trouble getting to sleep, it might be as simple as going for a 30 minute brisk walk a few times a week in order to get your beauty rest.
However, remember to work out at least four or five hours before bed. The rush of energy you get from working out might just keep you up if you exercise too close to bedtime.
6. Having an irregular sleep schedule.
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Finally, our bodies were meant to perform tasks during set hours of the day. Out in nature, we would wake with the sun and fall asleep just after it set each night. Therefore, not going to bed at the same time each night, as well as waking up at different hours each day, can really cause your body to become confused and exhausted. Just because you went to bed late all week and woke up early for work doesn’t mean you should sleep in until 2PM on Saturday to make up for it. Try to keep a consistent schedule so that you feel rested and rejuvenated each day.