Avoid these sleep-depriving mistakes before bed.
Having trouble getting to sleep? Tossing and turning and waking up cranky is never fun, so it’s time to face the facts. You may not be getting enough zzz’s due to one of these unhealthy, before-bed habits. If some much-needed sleep is on your wish list, avoid making these mistakes at night:
- Don’t Pill-Pop: Falling asleep can be tough when you have a cold or allergies, but that doesn’t mean that you should take any old medication before bed. Over-the-counter drugs that contain pseudoephedrine (such as nasal decongestants and daytime cold/flu medications) will actually cause you to feel more wired than tired. So, if you’re desperate for relief, choose a remedy that is specifically for nighttime use (like Benadryl, NyQuil, or Zyrtec), because these options usually contain antihistamines
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- Don’t Use Tech: While watching TV, surfing the Internet, and texting can feel like second nature—especially right before bed—these tasks can actually hurt your chances of getting a good night sleep. The light emitted by these devices stimulates the brain, making it even harder for you to snooze all night. Instead, to unwind, try reading a book (preferably not a horror or suspense novel, as these can add to your troubles), listening to calming music, or meditating.
- Don’t Bathe Before Bed: A warm soak in the tub can help calm and relax your body before saying goodnight. But if you’re headed straight for bed after, you won’t end up reaping the benefits of the bath. Your body temperature cools down in the evening, but the hot water from the bath will spike your body temperature, so it needs time to cool off again. For this method to work, make sure to leave at least an hour in between leaving the tub and climbing into bed.
- Don’t Pick Your Pantry: If you find yourself succumbing to late-night snack cravings, you’re not alone. Trying to go to sleep with a bulging tummy will only worsen your sleep difficulties. In fact, loading up on unhealthy foods that are salty, greasy, or high in fat right before relaxing into bed can stimulate your brain waves and you may end up having nightmares as a result. Avoid frightening dreams and unnecessary weight gain by taking small bites of healthy foods before bed or skip that nighttime snack altogether.
- Don’t Consume Caffeine: Caffeine helps you stay awake, of course, so why guzzle coffee or treat yourself to that chocolate bar right before bedtime? Even if you drink a latte six hours before you tuck in, caffeine can impact your slumber for up to 12 hours. And don’t think you’ll be safe if you sip on decaffeinated drinks either—decaf coffees, sodas, and teas still contain a bit of the stimulant. To sleep more soundly, avoid caffeinated foods and beverages after the a.m. hours are over and try soothing chamomile or lemon balm tea in the afternoon or evening instead.