sleep sabotaging behaviors

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If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you’re not alone. Lacking proper sleep can affect anything from your focus and self-control to how your body loses weight. If it seems like you can’t sleep to get a good night’s rest, maybe try to avoid doing any of these things.

Cold feet:

Based on our circadian rhythm, our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, reaching its low point in core body temperature while we sleep. As this occurs, we have better blood flow to our hands and feet, and this helps keep our extremities warm through the night.

Research suggests that cold feet can prolong the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. To combat this, some sleep experts suggest ensuring warm feet before bed by using a warm foot bath or socks to ensure you are spending your time catching Zs instead of waiting to fall asleep.


Screen time:

Perhaps not surprisingly, screen time in the proceeding hours before bed is a leading culprit in our sleep difficulties. The bright lights from cell phones, tablets, and TVs stimulates parts of our brain important for wakefulness. As a result, these bright light sources decrease our nightly surge of melatonin release, a sleep-promoting hormone.

To maximize your melatonin release each night, try to avoid bright screens within the hour (and even three hours) before bedtime. Strategies to make this easier may include using dim lights before bed and considering reading before bed instead of screen time, but we know most people will still turn to their electronic devices for evening entertainment.

If you are going to use your computer or cell phone, you can download extensions that make the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and regular brightness during the day. Blue light from these sources is the most potent at promoting wakefulness. To combat this, these extensions shift your screen to a warmer tone, reducing the blue light strength in the evening to help us get to sleep quickly. Finally, some people opt to use blue-light blocking glasses after dark or use red lights in your bedroom after dark.


Late-night eating:

Have a late night snack has a similar effect as bright light because it causes lower levels of melatonin release and pushes the release time back as well. This is often a surprise for users to learn but studies show that sleep quality is adversely affected by late-night snacking.


Late-night drinking:

Similar to eating, late-night alcoholic beverages also prevent you from your best night’s rest. As we age, we become more sensitive to this effect of alcohol, and females appear to be more sensitive to the sleep-disruption from drinking compared to men. Even though alcohol is a sedative, and can even help you fall asleep faster, overall you will have less REM sleep time if you are sipping wine before bed.


Lack of regular exercise:

Lack of regular exercise results in more tossing and turning, according to recent studies. We think that exercise helps us establish strong circadian rhythms, and this may be one reason for the sleep-promoting effects. Just be sure to get your exercise at least 3 hours before bed, as some people are sensitive to the adrenaline that is released with vigorous exercise and it keeps them more awake.

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