Do you find it hard to fall asleep at night? You may be sending your body mixed signals about what you want it to do without even realising!
There are lots of common night time habits that stimulate our brain and tell it to stay awake when we are actually getting ready to go to bed.
How many of these are you guilty of?
- You watch TV in bed. We understand that sometimes the best television shows are on late at night, but the fake light can trick your mind into thinking it's not time to sleep yet and signal your brain to stay alert. Worse still is falling asleep with the TV on! Try to power down a hour before you head to bed by reading a book or engaging in some relaxing activities.
- You do work in bed. Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation. It's definitely not somewhere you want to be bringing work-related stresses into. When your mind is running through spreadsheets and documents, it makes it harder to switch off and fall asleep when the lights go out. If you work on your laptop, you're getting a double dose of stimulation from your work and the glowing screen. Unplug, switch off and sleep more peacefully tonight.
- You use your phone before bed. This is a very hard habit to break as many of us sleep with our phones beside us and are guilty of scrolling through Facebook or responding to texts or emails in bed. These types of interactive activities can prevent your brain from shutting down and can promote insomnia.
- You sleep in a warm room. What you think may be a 'comfortable' temperature may not be ideal for your body. If your bedroom is too warm, (above 20 degrees) it does not send your brain the right signal to fall into a deep sleep.
- You leave the lights on. We're talking hallway lights, lamps, the glow from digital alarm clocks, blinking phone lights: all these things can disrupt a peaceful sleep pattern. When there is light in your room while you're trying to sleep it can disturb your melatonin levels - the hormone that helps you fall, and stay, asleep.
- You drink coffee in the afternoon. Obviously having a cup of coffee before bed isn't going to help you get to sleep, but it can wreak havoc on your sleep pattern too. Caffeine is also found in tea and soft drinks and even if you have these types of drinks in the afternoon, the caffeine can stay in your system for hours. To be safe, doctors recommend avoiding these kind of drinks for eight hours before you hit the sack.
- You like a 'nightcap'. We can't blame you for indulging in the glass of wine with dinner, but studies suggest having alcohol before bed is a bad night time habit many of us are guilty of. While it does make you drowsy, it also sets you up for a restless night's sleep. The recommendation? Avoid having alcohol within 2 hours of bedtime.
- You have no set bed time. Getting your body into a routine will help you to get a better night's sleep. Start powering down an hour before your actual bedtime and get all the little must-do's out of the way like walking the dog and bushing teeth. Spend the last 20 minutes doing something relaxing before turning off the lights. By sticking to the same bedtime it will help to regulate your body's clock.