Many of the things that have a directly negative impact on the quality of sleep we get at night are the things that a lot of us are in the habit of doing after the kids go to bed. I’ll admit I’m guilty of these . . . in fact this list looks a bit like my nightly routine, but I’m working on making changes.
Habits can be built slowly. The key is starting to make changes. If you want those bad habits to stay away, you’ll need to replace them with good habits. Instead of checking your email, read a book. Rather than watching TV, take a relaxing bath.
Try your best to avoid these things before bed:
1. Check Email – Not only will your computer screen wake you up as you start to get sleepy at night, but without fail you’ll get an email that will either need urgent attention or will leave you worrying about something. Either way you aren’t going to have an easy time falling asleep. Save those emails for first thing in the morning when you are at your best and have the time to devote to responding to anything that requires action.
2. Surf the Internet – Aimlessly surfing the internet may feel like a relaxing activity at the moment but sitting at a computer is anything but relaxing on your body. Even if you are surfing on a mobile device, the light from the screen isn’t helpful for encouraging restful sleep.
3. Watch TV – We all know how it goes. You plan on watching just one more TV show and before you know it, it’s after midnight. Those quiet hours after the kids go to bed are tempting but you’ll be paying for it in the morning. If you do watch TV at night, avoid high action shows and shut the TV off at least 30 minutes before going to bed so you can transition to a restful state.
4. Use your Bed for Work – To get a good night’s sleep, your brain needs to associate your bed with sleep. If you use your bed to work on your computer, watch TV, or even reading for long periods of time, you could have trouble falling asleep. Do your best to keep anything work related out of your bedroom. If you keep a desk in your room find another spot in your home for it. Few things will disrupt your sleep worse than a chaotic pile of papers waiting for your attention. A comfortable chair for reading in the corner of your room is a great alternative to reading in bed.
5. Talk about a Heated Topic – We all have topics that get us riled up. While it’s probably not realistic to avoid those topics all the time (wouldn’t it be nice though) do your best to avoid them before bed. Whether you want to discuss a heated politic topic or have to make decisions about your budget with your spouse, save those things for a time when you have more energy and they won’t keep you lying in bed awake.
6. Exercise Heavily – Exercise is great, but when it happens within a few hours of going to bed it can mess up your sleep patterns. Limit heavy exercise to late afternoon or earlier. If you want to be active before bed, try stretching or a more intimate activity.
7. Make a To-Do List – I’m a big fan of the to-do list (at least in a love/hate kind of way) but there’s a time and a place. Anything that you didn’t accomplish on your to-do list by the end of the day isn’t going to happen. Making a to-do list for tomorrow is only going to stress you out. Leave your to-do list making and reviewing for the morning or set a day to plan out your week all in one shot.
Everyone reacts different to different things. If you are having trouble sleeping, experiment with avoiding some of your regular before bed activities and see if that helps.
What things make it harder for you to fall asleep?