Habits to Avoid
If you are sleep deprived, or trying to avoid becoming that way, there are a few bad habits that you really need to avoid, and they are as stated below:
#1 Taking a Nap
There are times where napping can help to give you the boost you need, especially in college or before an essential meeting, but if you don’t need to nap then consider skipping it. This is because it can lower your sleep drive, causing you to go to bed later that night and wake up feeling slow and groggy the next day. If you really do need to nap though, make sure it is between 1pm and 3pm for no more than 25 minutes, as this is the optimal time to ensure that your sleep at night is not disrupted.
#2 Going to Bed Early
It can be really tempting to do this, especially when you are feeling absolutely exhausted. However, doing so can mess up your circadian rhythm over time, and this results in what is known as being both wired and tired – where your brain is not ready to go to sleep so early, but your body is. This makes it difficult to fall asleep and can lead to stress and frustration.
#3 Sleeping In
It can seem tempting, especially on a Sunday morning after a long night in or out. However, just one morning of sleeping in by 30 minutes can completely change your internal clock, prompting your body to wake up later than usual. So, if you spend the weekends sleeping in, there is a reason it is so hard to get up on a Monday morning. Try to get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends, to make your week and easier one.
#4 Caffeine Boosts
You’ll probably remember this from being in college, those late nights spend sucking down caffeine until the early hours of the morning so you could finish that essential paper. However, it is a terrible habit to have if you are facing sleep deprivation. The average time it takes caffeine to leave your body is around 8-10 hours, so it is best not to drink any caffeinated beverages after around 2pm. However, this does also depend on your personal tolerance for the stimulant as everyone is different.
#5 Booze Before Snooze
Yes, it has been dubbed a sedative as well as a great way to fall asleep, and this is true. However, it is also the best way to get an unfulfilled and restless night of sleep too. Alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM), which is the most restorative part of sleep and helps us turn short-term memories into long-term ones. As a result, alcohol before bed can affect your memory and cause a restless sleep. Plus, it could even wake you up once the alcohol has been fully metabolized.
#6 Scrolling Through Facebook
Social media before bed is the bane of sleep everywhere, and it can have really negative impacts on the quality. Of course, flicking through Facebook or Twitter could send you down a social media rabbit hole because your sleepy self is fresh out of self-control, but the blue screen is the main culprit. It actually mimics daylight, boosting your brain and making it difficult to fall asleep. The more you engage with the social media in questions, the more amped up your brain becomes, making you more awake and alert, which will ensure falling asleep is much harder. So, say no to that last-minute scroll through Instagram before you go to sleep.
#7 Snacking Before Bed
Food choices and sleep deprivation are never a good mix, and having a midnight snack before bed can leave you feeling really heavy and bloated, so you won’t be able to sleep for a few hours. We were not made to digest food lying down, and hard to digest food can cause restless sleep or an inability to do so, as well as a slower metabolism and weight gain.
It’s best to eat no more than three hours before bed so that your body can start digesting it, but going to bed hungry can keep you awake too. If you need that snack before sleep, try having something light like Greek yogart and bananas. This is a perfect combination of 80% carbs and 20% protein, which is shown to have a calming effect on the body. Cheese and crackers is an option too, but the nightmare superstition is very real for some.
Tomorrow, come back here for Chapter 11: Prevention and sign up for Alaska Sleep Clinic’s blog.