So you know by now that scrolling through your social media feed before you sleep is one of the reasons why you wake up knackered the next day (blue light and all). But did you also know that the bit of ice cream you had as a treat or that bite or two of cold pizza just before bed is giving you restless nights too?
This is because your digestive tract is supposed to be resting while you sleep but instead it is working hard digesting whatever midnight snack you had, causing you to feel restless and somewhat uncomfortable, unable to sleep. Worst if you had something sweet because sugar is like food for the brain and it will keep your brain active at night, or chocolate, which contains caffeine.
Same goes for water – consuming lots of water during dinner is a way to guarantee countless trips to the loo in the middle of the night, which disrupts your sleep. What to do? Avoid liquids after dinner time and resist the temptation for Magnum ice cream.
What other “innocent” habits are ruining your sleep?
Ordering a latte with your lunch
Sure, we all need that afternoon caffeine boost to get through the day but unfortunately, that cup of joe is what’s affecting your sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine has a half-life of six hours. So if you had a latte at 3pm, about 50% of its caffeine is still in your body 9pm, making it difficult for you to unwind and get ready for bed. Tea’s not all that innocent either because there’s caffeine in it, like in your favourite cup of green tea!
Using your bed for other things as well
We get it – the room’s comfy and your bed’s your sanctuary right? It should be… a sanctuary for sleep only that is! Because using your bed for other things like surfing the internet, doing a little bit of work or something as innocent as reading will set you up for restless nights as you associate your bed with other things on top of sleep. Your body doesn’t know if you’re on the bed because you want to answer your client’s email or if you really want to sleep!
Hitting the snooze button too often
You snooze, you really lose your sleep! Notice how you wake up groggier even though you had that extra 15 minutes of snooze? It’s all because of how our sleep cycle is structured. Towards the end of our cycle, we go through REM sleep or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep rate. This is when you gain the most to recharge when you wake up. But if you hit the snooze button, you’re disrupting your REM sleep and interrupting your sleep cycle, hence why you wake up with a brain fog.
You have no time to wind down
Between coming home from work, freshening up, having dinner and watching Netflix – who has time to properly unwind, relax and get ready for bed? Why can’t you just hit the sack and sleep! Except that you can’t because winding down actually helps your body – and mind – get ready for bed. Take cue from little children. They go through a bedtime routine (bath, book, bed) so their body and mind start to associate the routine as a sign to go to sleep. Spend at least 30 to 45 minutes unwinding doing your favourite activity before you hit the sack.
You obsess about going to bed early
10pm sharp – go to bed so you can get minimum eight hours of sleep! Guess what – if this is out of your norm and you’re actually not sleepy yet, there’s no way sleep will beckon. Obsessing about an early bedtime can be counterproductive; you keep reminding yourself of when you need to sleep instead of doing what’s natural and hit the bed only when you are feeling sleepy. So you’re tossing and turning and lying awake, feeling frustrated at why you can’t fall asleep easily and when you finally do, you only had a few hours of quality sleep. What you should be doing instead is to train yourself to go to bed only when you are sleepy and not because the clock says it’s time to sleep.