If you are one of the millions of people who have trouble sleeping each night, you’ve probably tried countless sleep tips to help you fall catch some zzzzz’s. If you feel like you’ve tried every sleep tip in the book, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about things you shouldn’t do, rather than the things you should do.
We’ve come up with a new way to think about Sleep Tips — a list of things to avoid. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, hopefully these sleep tips will provide you some relief.
1. No Screens
This means computers, e-readers, phones, or TVs (including video games) at least an hour before bed. There are plenty of reasons to avoid screens:
• The light from screens can disrupt the brain’s natural circadian rhythm and confuse it into releasing chemicals that it would normally release in the morning when the sun is coming up.
• Television shows or digital books with cliffhangers or exciting endings can keep the mind racing instead of winding down.
• Video games, especially highly competitive and aggressive ones, can cause the brain to release adrenaline and other chemicals that cause wakefulness
• Simply having your phone near your bed can be distracting as you think about your emails or outstanding text messages. And if you receive a message throughout the night, it can wake you up after you’ve finally fallen asleep.
2. No drugs or stimulants
Again this list is long and includes caffeine, some medications, alcohol and nicotine. Here’s a breakdown of why you might want to avoid them:
• We use caffeine to wake us up in the morning, so we should be very wary of it close to bedtime, and we should limit our intake even in the afternoon. Food and drink to avoid includes chocolate, coffee, caffeinated tea (including green tea), even decaf coffee has caffeine remaining.
• While a glass of wine might make you feel sleepy initially, the body still has to metabolize it. And that usually happens during REM sleep, causing disruption to the sleep cycle when we are supposed to be sleeping deepest.
• Nicotine is also a stimulant and any nicotine intake should be avoided at least a couple of hours before bed. Heavy smokers might also find that they go through withdrawal during the night and that their sleep is disrupted by cravings.
• The side effects from some medications can have an adverse effect on sleep, from increased heart rate to disruptive nightmares. If you notice a physiological effect from the medication you take before bedtime, speak to your doctor about adjusting your prescription.
3. No pets in bed
If the habit is already there, it can be difficult to change the behaviour, but it will be worth it. Allowing a pet in bed can make it hard to fall asleep and they might also wake you up in the middle of the night with snoring or stretching, interrupting you when you’re in mid sleep cycle. Pets can also carry lots of dirt and possibly even critters into bed. It’s best to keep your bed a sanctuary, and a clean one at that.
4. No deviations from your routine
If you have found a routine that works for you, stick to it. In fact, the very act of having a before bedtime routine will eventually teach your brain that sleep is coming. The brain will then begin to wind itself down, triggering the chemicals it needs to fall asleep. If that includes having a bath, a cup of herbal tea, reading a book, meditating, some light stretching, doing the dishes… whatever it is! Keep it simple and keep it consistent.
We love helping people find the sleep the seek, so if you have any questions, we encourage you to come to our store. We will help you put all the pieces in place so hopefully you can sleep well each and every night.