Fri, 20 Oct, 2017Georgia Dixon

Are you sabotaging your own sleep?

Are you sabotaging your own sleep?

A bad nights’ sleep is enough to ruin anybody’s day, yet getting a good sleep is a struggle many of us face. So if you’re tired of tossing and turning, nix these four bad habits that are robbing you of that deep, satisfying and refreshing slumber.

That late-arvo coffee

We know caffeine keeps us up (it is after all, why we love it) but too many people believe it has no effect on them. Caffeine can linger in your system for up to 12 hours so sipping on that afternoon pick-me-up coffee might be inadvertently messing with your sleep at night. Your “caffeine metabolism” also slows as you age so your body doesn’t process caffeine as efficiently in your 60s as it did in your 40s.

Fix it:Drink your last coffee by 5pm or earlier. Switch to decaf or try chamomile tea in the evenings.

Checking your devices in bed

Not all electronics are bad – many people finding watching TV can relax them before they sleep but the light from our small-screen devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) emit mostly a brain-activating blue wavelength that can supress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. These harsh lights signal to your brain that it needs to stay alert rather than shutting down.

Fix it: Stop checking your devices at least an hour before your sleep. Or if you need to use them, dim the brightness at least.

Related link: Are you getting the right amount of sleep each night?

Big dinners near bedtime

Diner can take hours to digest and if you’re going to bed on a full stomach, your body is still processing all the food instead of resting.

Fix it: Finish your dinner at least three to four hours before bedtime.

You don’t have a set bedtime

No, you don’t need to revert back to your childhood days of strict bedtimes but you still need that “wind-down” period. It’s like when your parents told you to prepare for bed before that 8pm bedtime so you were both mentally and physically ready to sleep.

Fix it: Set an hour before you sleep to power down. You can spend the first 20 minutes finishing up your tasks, the next 20 for sleep hygiene (brushing teeth, getting into PJs) and the next 20 doing something relaxing like reading a book or meditation. Then it’s lights out, no negotiations. 

Related links:

Here's how you look fresh when you wake up, even if you don't feel it

13 reasons why you might not be sleeping well

Some signs you need to get more sleep each night