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Huffingtonpost.com: By MaryAnn DePietro
Did you ever notice that when you’re exhausted, small problems can seem ever bigger? That’s because, in addition to
having a shorter fuse, lack of sleep can also affect your ability to solve problems. Poor sleep can also lead to a
variety of other issues from increasing your risk of accidents to being overweight.
It’s clear getting enough sleep is a critical factor in maintaining good health. Shooting for seven to nine hours of sleep
each night is optimal for most adults. But sometimes we might sabotage our sleep with certain habits.
We all have at least a few bad habits. But when it comes to sleep, bad habits may be preventing you from getting the
rest you need. The good news is bad habits are just that; habits and they can be changed.
The first step is recognizing what routines and practices may be interfering with sleep. Below are some common bad
habits that can affect your quality of sleep.
Exercising too close to bedtime: Exercise is great for overall health. In fact, regular exercise can even improve
sleep. But it’s important to time your workout, so it does not interfere with falling asleep. If you work out too close to
bedtime, it can act as a stimulate and keep you from falling asleep. If you’re hitting the gym in the evening, make sure
it’s three or four hours before you plan to hit the hay.
Scanning your phone in bed: Many of us are tied to our phone. But before you check email once more before bed,
consider how screen time affects sleep. Exposure to bright light from your cell phone, tablet or notebook can trick your
body into thinking it’s daytime. When you are exposed to light, melatonin, which helps regulate sleep, may be
suppressed and make falling asleep more difficult. Consider making your bedroom a tech-free zone or at least shut off
your devices and limit screen time to an hour or two before bed.
Late-night eating: Have you gotten in the habit of eating dinner late at night or having a heavy snack before bed? If
so, late night eating can affect sleep. For example, lying down shortly after eating a heavy meal or eating acidic,
greasy or fried foods can cause heartburn. Also, if you’re eating or drinking foods that contain caffeine, it can also
interfere with falling asleep. If you’re hungry at bedtime, go ahead and have a snack, but keep it light. A small snack
containing protein and carbs may be your best bet to curb your hunger and promote calmness.
Working right up until bedtime: It’s easy to take the laptop to bed and get in a little work before you close your
eyes. The problem is, working right up until bedtime doesn’t allow you the time you need to unwind. If you’re thinking
about work, bills or other business, it’s hard for your mind to settle down. Instead of working before bed, do something
relaxing like meditation, listening to music or taking a warm bath.
Staying up late or sleeping in on the weekends: If you have a typical Monday through Friday workweek, your sleep
schedule may be different on the weekends. It’s common to stay up late or sleep in when you can. Although that extra
sleep on Saturday morning might feel good, it may disrupt your body’s natural rhythm. Consistency is key to
developing sleep patterns that improve the quality of your sleep. So, consider sticking to the same sleep schedule
even on the weekends.
Having a couple of drinks before bed: For some people, having a nightcap is part of their bedtime routine. Alcohol is
a sedative, but does it make sleep better? The answer is no. That glass or two of wine may help you fall asleep, but
as it’s metabolized, it can disrupt your slumber later. Consider skipping the nightcap or have it a little earlier in the
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