According to the American Sleep Association, we need more sleep. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours per night, but around a third of the population gets less than 7 hours.  But with our busy lives, it can be really hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Around 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a disorder that affects their rest.  So, how can we get better sleep?

Many of us struggle to shut our minds off.  Whether it’s worrying about locking the front door, worrying about work, counting the hours of sleep you’ll get, or grabbing your phone to wind down, there’s a lot that keeps us up at night! And the results of lack of sleep can lead to many daytime issues as well.  In a recent article from HuffPost, it can affect many areas of your life- like mental health, physical health, and overall quality of life.

But, unfortunately, we are sometimes to blame for these issues.  There are many habits we should try to avoid to improve our ability to get quality rest. And if you’re looking to add some Zen to your bedroom, be sure to check these great items out!

What habits are they?  Here are things we should avoid to get better sleep, starting tonight!

  • Avoid Screens Before Bed

    You’ve probably heard this one before.  Our phones, tablets and TVs emit a blue light than can actually affect our body’s production of melatonin, which is a hormone to regulate our sleep cycles. Even with blue light filters, looking at screens before bed can still affect the quality of our sleep, because it’s keeping your mind active and engaged. This makes it harder to shut it off and get some sleep.

  • TV in the Bedroom

    You, or someone you know, may think falling asleep with the TV on actually helps them… but in fact, it can keep us awake longer than intended. The noise doesn’t help our bodies settle down for sleep.  You can also get caught up in an episode you want to finish, or lose track of time completely without realizing it.

  • Social Interaction

    One sleep expert says catching up with friends shouldn’t be done before bed.  This includes social media. Social interaction can keep the body in a vigilant state, making it harder to wind down. When it comes to social media, it can lead to comparison, which then can cause self-doubt, jealousy, and sadness.  These type of thoughts can be hard to shut down, making it difficult to sleep.

  • Working From Bed - Any Time of the Day

    You may have heard something along these lines before.  The bed should be for sleep and intimacy only.  It’s important to separate work and sleep.  The mixed signals can make it harder to be productive during working hours, and harder to fall asleep when it’s time. This also includes check emails. Anything work-related should be avoided in bed.

  • Eating Just Before Sleep

    Eating dinner late can affect your sleep.  Your food is more easily digested when you’re up and moving.  Obviously, you don’t want to go to bed hungry either– because a growling stomach can keep you awake as well.  If needed, enjoy a light snack before bed, but avoid a heavier meal. It’s also encouraged to take in more fiber-rich foods, which can help with deeper sleep and avoid saturated fat and high sugar.

  • Exercise

    Of course, exercise is a great thing, but it can affect sleep if you participate in it too close to bed time.  Exercise produces endorphins, which can lead you to feel more alert and restless.  Earlier in the day is better to stabilize moods and help decompress and combat stress.

  • Drinking Before Bed

    Alcohol, while it is a depressant, can make you feel sleepy, but doesn’t allow your body to get into deep stages of sleep.  It can also cause disruptions in your sleep throughout the night.

    Caffeine is another thing to avoid later in the day.  Coffee, soda, energy drinks- these can keep you up if you consume them too late. Enjoy that last caffeinated beverage by early afternoon if you want to get better sleep!

  • Inconsistent Sleep and Wake Times

    We’ve always heard that you can’t catch up, or make up, for loss of sleep.  So trying to take naps or sleep more on the weekends can wreck your sleep throughout the week.  Try to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time.  This will get your body into a better routine and lead to better sleep.

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