Are You Making These 9 Common Sleep Mistakes?
The good news? These are all free and (relatively) easy to fix, but if those zzzs still elude you, the best port of call is your GP, who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.
Until then, consider these habits — and whether they might wreaking havoc on your precious hours in bed.
Using the snooze buttonStudies have shown that interrupted sleep can exacerbate your exhaustion levels, so those few extra minutes in the morning are almost certainly doing you more harm than good. (Sorry.) Don’t hit the snooze button — we know, it's an audacious request — and try get up when your alarm sounds... then, make your way into a warm shower to soften the blow.
Taking long napsIt’s tempting, but try resist taking a nap. If you nod off during the day, keep it as short as possible, and ideally, before 4pm. The good news? A nap of up to 30 minutes can boost your energy levels. But the bad news is that longer naps will disrupt your sleep rhythms and could prevent you from dropping off when you hit the hay. This will make you even more tired the following day, and recreate the issue you were trying to avoid, initially. It's a vicious cycle, we know.
Disorganised sleeping habitsA regular routine can make all the difference to how well you sleep. Generally speaking, you should go to bed around the same time every night and wake up roughly the same time each morning. Disruption to your routine could lead to a bout of insomnia or a case of fatigue, which is why some experts recommend waking up around the same time on the weekend, as you do during the week.
CaffeineCoffee addicts, you probably knew this was coming. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant — but what you didn't know is that it can keep working for up to 12 hours after you consume it. Try stick to one coffee a day if possible, and if you need a second, consume it before 3pm.
Blue light pollutionYour body responds to light (and darkness) and which means you're reliant on certain triggers to fall asleep. Light (of any mind) tells your body that it's daytime, which is why a sneaky scroll or light from the street will wreak havoc on your body’s production of sleep hormones, and prevent you from dropping off. Your phone is probably the most insidious culprit when it comes to confusing your body's sleep patterns, as the blue light emanated from it confuses our bodies, and tricks us into thinking it's time to get up. Our advice? Avoid the nightly scroll through Instagram — we promise it'll still be there in the morning. (And the morning after that.)
Too much sugarLook, we don't need to wax lyrical on the adverse affects of sugar, but if you could just avoid the sweets before bedtime you'll stop the inevitable high — and subsequent crash — when it's time to be relaxing your system instead of stimulating it. (Here's what to eat for a good sleep instead.)
Alcohol at nightIt’s tempting to enjoy a tipple before bedtime but skip the glass of red (or, well, anything) if possible. Yes, you will nod off but your snooze is likely to be interrupted as alcohol impairs sleep during the second half of the night, leaving you the worse for wear in the morning.
Watching TVIt's vital that your body and your subconscious mind associate your bedroom with sleep and not entertainment. (Which is why you shouldn't work in bed, either.) It's best not to have a TV in your room so you're never tempted to hit the sack and tune in, but if catching up on your favourite show is a non-negotiable part of your bedtime routine, try to avoid rousing content or things that'll overstimulate you. You know, like that murder mystery you're bingeing currently.
Now that we’re on the topic, here are 10 simple ways to enhance the quality of your sleep – starting from tonight! – plus the 7 things to do if you just can't fall asleep.