Habits that Compromise Sleep
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
If you’ve never stayed up all night to cram for a test and then regretted it the next day (even more than the night you decided to do eight tequila shots), were you ever even a student?
By now, most of us know that sleep is super important. It impacts both our physical and mental health as well as our cognitive functioning. Your teachers weren’t playin’ when they repeatedly told you that all-nighters are a bad idea.
Of course, knowing is one thing and doing is a whole other. I’ll admit it: I am guilty of lying in bed, scrolling through Instagram, wondering why I can’t fall asleep, and then being annoyed the next day when I feel like a dumpster.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize some easy tricks that completely changed the quality of my sleep. Since implementing these, I actually wake up feeling refreshed (most mornings anyway). I know, I didn’t think that was possible either.
Try these out and let me know in the comments if they help:
1. Put that phone down
…and your other devices too. Humans evolved to regulate our sleep-wake cycles with light (which back in the day, used to just be the sun). Nowadays, we have a million things illuminating our eyes with light all day and night, and this really screws with our body’s natural ability to release melatonin to make us nice and drowsy.
The blue light on our devices is especially implicated in disrupting melatonin production. Luckily, many phones and laptops now have built-in features and apps to block blue light, and they can be set to automatically turn on at sunset or another specific time. So if you absolutely must be on your devices in the two hours before bed, take advantage of these tools. Alternately, you can find reasonably-priced blue-light blocking glasses on places like Amazon as well.
2. Turn down the heat
Not only can an elevated core body temperature make it harder to fall asleep and compromise sleep quality, the opposite has been shown to be true as well. A room that’s cool enough to reduce your core body temperature (without making you uncomfortable cold) can shorten sleep latency and produce better quality sleep.
3. Save the coffee for the morning
We all know and love caffeine for its ability to make us feel human again. The smell and taste of coffee also make it a pleasurable beverage to drink and it can be quite tempting to brew a pot even in the evening. Unfortunately, caffeine consumption in the hours before bed can result in very shallow sleep. Even us veteran coffee-drinkers that are able to fall asleep two minutes after drinking a cup will find that we are more “alert”, even when we’re sleeping! It takes about six hours for our bodies to metabolize caffeine so avoid consuming it in the six hours before bedtime.
4. Skip the nightcap
Alcohol can certainly relax you and may even make you fall asleep faster (though this effect actually wears off after a few days). However, from the beginning, it compromises the quality of your sleep. Quality ultimately determines how refreshed and alert you feel in the morning. Though drinking alcoholic beverages is generally an evening and nighttime activity, I would recommend not making it a regular part of your evening routine.
Now that we've covered the things that might be harming your sleep quality, you might be wondering what could improve it. Check out my next post!
Stay nourished my friends,