Ditch these rest-robbing moves and wake up refreshed
Thanks to “go-go-go” lives filled with work deadlines, family responsibilities, and home chores, it’s no wonder many of us struggle with insomnia. Problem is, many of our favorite ways to wind down at night may actually worsen our sleep. Discover which sleep habits keep you up at night and learn how to ditch them so you wake up feeling more energized than ever.
Sleep crutch #1: A goblet of vino
Although alcohol can cause drowsiness and help you fall asleep faster, it also throws off your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Booze relaxes your throat muscles and rushes you into slumber, making it more likely that you’ll snore or have difficulty breathing. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which increases your odds of getting a wake-up call from your bladder. In addition, it’s likely you won’t feel restored the next morning, as alcohol shortens the amount of time you spend in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase, which is crucial for rebuilding next-day memory and concentration levels. The solution? Finish off that glass of merlot at least three hours before bedtime and unwind with a relaxing activity, like reading or light yoga, instead.
Sleep crutch #2: Nodding off while watching your favorite TV show
Zoning out in front of the tube isn’t the calming activity it appears to be. In fact, TV can stimulate your brain, making it even harder to unwind. In addition, electronics (including tablets and cell phones) emit light—particularly the blue wavelength—that inhibits your body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you prepare for sleep.
To solve this problem, remove the TV from your bedroom. Turn it off at least 30 minutes before bed (60 to 90 minutes before is even better). Avoid staring at a tablet, phone, or computer in the hours before bed.
Sleep crutch #3: Tackling your to-do list
We’re all guilty of trying to squeeze in chores after everyone else is in bed. Although you might believe that doing laundry or finishing up work gives you the peace of mind to drift off, it’s actually a surefire way to increase your stress level. Instead, aim to finish the to-do list before dinner. Any tasks you don’t complete can wait until tomorrow. Planning out when you’ll take on bigger projects (like researching a family vacation or calculating next month’s budget) can also keep you on track.
Sleep crutch #4: Earplugs—to block out a snoring spouse
There’s nothing wrong with earplugs per se. But a partner’s snoring that wakes you in the night (especially if punctuated by pauses in breathing) may signal sleep apnea, a serious condition that can increase the risk of heart disease. Seeking treatment is essential for both your partner’s health and yours. To remedy this situation, talk to your partner about scheduling a doctor’s appointment or seeing a sleep specialist who will examine his/her nose and throat and may recommend an overnight sleep study. With snoring and sleep apnea in check, you’ll both rest easier.
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