Typically, when people think of a healthy lifestyle, they think of a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise. One thing they often forget, though, is how crucial sleep is to the equation. A good night’s sleep promotes a long and healthy life by fighting off germs, strengthening the brain and other vital organs, boosting one’s mood, and even minimizing weight gain. The CDC reported, on average, 1 in 3 adults feel as though they don’t get quality sleep—and in this ever-expanding, fast-paced world, restful sleep is becoming harder to achieve. Luckily, scientists and other sleep specialists have come up with ways to help you achieve better zzz’s.
The 10 Things to Avoid Before Bed
1. Ditch the technology.
Technology is everywhere in today’s world, but there is one place we shouldn’t see it at all: the bedroom. Experts recommend avoiding any light-emitting technology (cell phones, televisions, e-readers, etc.) for at least one hour before bed. If forgoing your Kindle isn’t an option, try to use the blue light filter (usually located in a device’s settings) or blue light glasses, turn down the screen’s brightness, and keep the device 14-inches from your face.
2. Avoid caffeine.
Drinks like coffee, tea, and soda should not be consumed after 5 pm due to their crazy and sometimes surprising amounts of caffeine. Coffee can have anywhere from 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine per cup; soda can contain 39 milligrams or more; and finally, tea comes in at approximately 26 milligrams per cup. Try to find coffees or teas that are decaffeinated and made to promote restful sleep. Or opt for a glass of warm milk, which contains tryptophan. As far as soda goes, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
3. Sugar and spice are not so nice.
Sugary foods, like dark chocolate, often contain caffeine. Not to mention, the sugar count alone can have adverse effects on your sleep. Sugar is known to cause nightmares, which ultimately lead to poor sleep. Spicy foods can cause bloating or discomfort and make falling asleep difficult. The main concern with spicy foods, however, is their ability to cause acid reflux. Experts suggest having your final meal at least two hours before bed for optimal digestion time.
4. Avoid fatty foods.
Foods that contain a high amount of fat are known to decrease a person’s quality AND quantity of sleep. Experts found that when fatty foods, like burgers and fries, are consumed before bedtime, there will be a significant decrease in REM sleep. If a snack before bed is absolutely needed, go for foods higher in protein, like peanut butter.
5. Put the bad habits to bed.
Drinking before bed will often disrupt the quality of your sleep. You can expect to wake up frequently, toss and turn, nightmares, night sweats, and pounding headaches. So, enjoy the glass of wine with your dinner, but go for a glass of water after that. Now, smoking is terrible in more ways than one, but did you know it could worsen insomnia? Even though many smoke to relax, researchers found that nicotine acts as a stimulant which can lead to waking up multiple times throughout the night. Now you have one more reason to ditch smoking.
6. Hydration is key, just not before bedtime.
Try to avoid drinking a lot of water before bed. This can cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night and can have a huge impact on your day. Try to drink water throughout the day and use the bathroom before going to bed.
7. Skip the gym.
When you’re busy, it may feel like you don’t have any other option but to work out at night. However, it’s suggested to skip the strenuous workout routine before bed. When you exercise, your body’s temperature rises and hinders your sleep. Try going to bed earlier and work out in the morning. If that’s not an option, try activities like yoga to help you unwind.
8. Don’t go to bed angry.
There’s a reason we’re taught that golden rule. Arguing and stress can cause insomnia by raising cortisol levels and other stress hormones. Stressful conversations before bed can also impact how fast you fall asleep.
9. Work has no place in your bedroom.
Researchers have found that working in your bed or anywhere in your bedroom can negatively affect your sleep. Working in your room or even checking work emails will have your mind associating your space with work instead of rest and relaxation.
10. Beware of certain medications.
Some medicines—including painkillers, cold medicines, diuretics, and weight loss pills—can contain more caffeine than coffee. If you’re taking any medication and notice a change in your sleeping patterns, talk to your doctor and ask about the medication’s side effects and find out what you could do to improve your sleep.
Want to Know How to Achieve Even Better Sleep?
At Gwinnett Sleep, we are here to ensure you have a goodnight’s sleep every night. Our physicians will work closely with you and provide quality services and care. If you’re interested in learning more about achieving better sleep or curious about other things that could be affecting your sleep, find more information here, and be sure to contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment.