The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough. We’ve covered how sleep affects your health, performance, fat loss and transformation challenge goals as well as tips to improve sleep multiple times previously.
Regardless of how often and emphatically we stress the importance of sleep, there are still millions of individuals around the world that don’t get enough sleep. Today, we discuss several daytime habits sabotaging your sleep (and how to fix them!).
10 Ways How to Ruin Your Sleep
#1 Not Getting Enough Sunlight
Sunlight exposure may seem counterintuitive towards getting better sleep, but exposing yourself (not in that manner) to direct sunlight 30-60 minutes after waking is widely recognized as an effective way to increase wakefulness/alertness and benefit your circadian rhythm -- the clock that dictates your sleep-wake cycle.
Exposure to sunlight in the early morning hours gets your day started on the right foot, and it will also help you to settle down at night, thereby achieving better sleep.
#2 Long Naps During the Day
Napping is a great way to recharge your batteries during the day, but excessively long naps (>45-60 minutes) or too close to bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep at your regular bedtime.
Therefore, if you want to nap do it with intention -- have a set time and duration for your naps. Sleep experts recommend between 15-45 minutes usually, some outliers may nap up to 60 minutes and still be able to fall asleep at their regular bedtime, but that is more the exception than the norm.
#3 Pre-Bed Meals/Snacks
Certain foods or snacks an hour or two before bed for some individuals can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This isn’t true for everyone as some individuals actually sleep better with a pre-bed meal or snack, such as a whey protein shake or protein bar, but if you’re eating close to bedtime and experiencing sleep difficulties, then it may serve your personal sleep habits to eat further away from bedtime.
If you’re predisposed to GI issues before, during or after sleep, here are some food/beverage categories to be on the lookout for:
- High-fat foods
- High-carb foods
- High-caffeine beverages/foods
- Large meals
- Alcoholic beverages
Again, eating before bed isn’t inherently detrimental to your sleep habits. For certain individuals, eating too close to bedtime may not be optimal, but for others, it’s helpful. With that in mind, consider how well you’re sleeping during the night when eating close to bed compared to when you don’t.
#4 Late-Evening Exercise
Exercising in the evening hours isn’t inherently bad, but the intensity, duration, and proximity of your exercise in regard to your regular bedtime can have a significant impact on your ability to fall asleep. Going for a brisk walk an hour or two before bed can help burn off some energy, promote better digestion, and help you relax before bed. However, engaging in a bout of HIIT or heavy resistance training within an hour or two of bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep due to increased levels of excitatory and stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, cortisol, etc.). As such, if you’re going to perform a PM workout, make sure it’s relatively short and low-intensity. More intense workouts should be completed at least 2-3 hours before bed. Taking a warm bath or shower after your workout may also help you to further relax and unwind before bed if exercising close to bedtime.
#5 Bluelight Bombardment
Sunlight exposure is fantastic early in the morning as it sets our circadian rhythm and provides a robust signal to our body that it’s time to get movin’ and groovin’. Conversely, bluelight exposure in the hours before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. The reason for this is that bluelight stunts melatonin synthesis. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm, and its release in the evening hours signals to the body that it’s time to go to sleep.
Staring at blue light-emitting devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, LEDs, etc.) limits melatonin release, and in certain cases (such as seeing a disturbing text or DM on your phone) can also cause an increase in stress and feelings of anxiety, further hindering your ability to relax and go to sleep on time.
As such, make a concerted effort to limit/avoid using electronics as much as possible 1-2 hours before bed. If you “must” work at night, make sure to turn on “night shift” or some other bluelight blocking service on your device.
#6 Not Having a Set Bedtime
Bedtimes weren’t just important during childhood, they are also incredibly beneficial during adulthood. Humans thrive on structure and routine. Irregular bed times and sleep schedules are known to impair sleep quality. Having a set bedtime can help program your nervous system to “powering down” in the evening, further ensuring that when your head hits the pillow, deep, restful sleep is soon to follow.
#7 Not Making a To-Do List
Going to bed with so many tasks to complete tomorrow can increase feelings of stress and anxiety, making it more difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. Instead of mulling the next day’s tasks over in your brain while trying to unwind, do a brain dump in the evening. While you could do this on your phone, this opens up the possibility of blue light exposure and/or opening various texts, emails, DMs, and other notifications that may increase stress levels. We prefer to make to-do lists the traditional way -- pen & paper. Keeping a notepad and pen on your nightstand is a great way to perform your nightly brain dump as well as offers a quick way to jot down any random work thoughts you may have in the middle of the night.
#8 After Dinner Coffee/Drinks
Consuming caffeine and alcohol later in the day (especially in the hours leading up to bed) can have a considerably negative effect on sleep quality and duration. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can be incredibly beneficial in an exercise setting, hence why it’s included in our men’s and women’s pre workout supplements, 1UP Pre Men & 1UP Pre Women. However, it’s stimulating properties also make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Alcohol is a depressant and may help you to fall asleep, but it ultimately reduces deep sleep and decreases overall sleep quality. For a relaxing pre-bed beverage, we’re partial to a scoop of protein powder or a cup of herbal tea (e.g. chamomile).
#9 Not Having a Bedtime Routine
A pre-bed ritual is a great way to help unburden the mind and body, setting the stage for a great night’s sleep. A few things you can include in your bedtime routine includes:
- Taking a warm bath/shower
- Stretching/light yoga
- Putting on calm, relaxing music
- Changing into pajamas/night time clothes
- Diffusing essential oils
Try a few of these, find out which ones work, and experience the benefits of regularly incorporating them into your daily routine.
#10 Keeping a Busy Bedroom
Filling your bedroom with gaming systems, televisions, phones, tablets, and other distractions is a surefire way to create complications come bedtime. You want your room dark and cool, free from bright lights and loud noises. If you need to charge your phone, tablet, etc. have those in the office or kitchen. Ideally, your bedroom will only be for intimacy and sleep.
Quality sleep is essential to health, wellness, and performance. Innocuous daily habits can have a significant impact on your ability to sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed. Use the tips discussed above to improve your daytime and nighttime routines so that you can relax in the evenings and achieve the deep, restful sleep your mind and body demand each and every night. For added help relaxing at night and experiencing deep sleep, consider a nighttime relaxation and recovery aid, such as Recharge PM or Beauty Dream -- both include natural ingredients backed by scientific research that improve sleep quality and recovery.