You might have heard people say that you should only use your bed for sleeping, and in this blog I want to explain why that is SO true. I’m sure many of us have had a night where we felt we only tossed and turned and got pretty much no sleep at all. I know between busy lives and distractions finding their way into our bedrooms, plenty of you are having a lousy night’s sleep.
Your routine and behaviours during the day can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep that night. Healthy sleep habits, known as good ‘sleep hygiene’ are really important to ease you into the land of slumber. Bad habits, on the other hand, can really ruin a good night’s sleep.
For a better chance of nabbing a restful night of sleep and waking up ready to take on the world, here are a few things you should never do in bed.
1. Be tempted by late night snacking
While it’s a bad idea to go to bed hungry, eating a big meal right before you sleep can also lead to a restless night. Often snacking before bed isn’t necessarily the problem, what you choose to snack on has more of an impact. As you may have guessed, late night burgers aren’t topping the list for foods that make it easier to sleep. Foods with high fat content can cause heartburn, which may keep you awake long after you’ve finished snacking.
If you’re feeling peckish, I recommend opting for lighter options or foods with naturally occurring tryptophan If you were wondering, tryptophan is an amino acid that assists serotonin production, which can help you drift off to sleep. You can read about some of my favourite late night snacks here. Stay away from sugary cookies or biscuits, as well as caffeinated drinks, as the sugar hit can help keep you awake. When your tummy rumbles at night, avoid snacking in bed too. Your bed should be a place of relaxation and used only for sleep.
2. Finish off that presentation
I’m sure the idea of working from the comfort of your bed is VERY appealing to many people. In saying that, being in work mode when you should be in sleep mode (or at least pre-sleep mode) means your brain is still very active. When you are on a deadline or replying to emails, you’re still thinking and planning. Your brain, being the clever little thing it is, may then begin to associate your bedroom with this kind of activity.
Following a nightly pre-sleep routine can help your brain to associate your bedroom with sleeping (which is why I recommend not to eat or work in it). Once you’ve trained your mind to recognize it’s time to slow down, you may find falling asleep much easier.
3. Have an Argument
Being angry or having a heated argument with your significant other (or anyone else) can severely affect your ability to nod off. Your bed should be a sanctuary where you feel calm and relaxed. Arguing leaves you feeling tense and flustered, so it will probably take you longer to fall asleep. Even worse, not getting enough sleep can make it hard to get through the next day – hello crankiness!
There is also a chance you will replay the argument over and over, which can reinforce the negative mood and keep you awake longer. If you feel yourself getting agitated at a situation or a person—remind yourself now is not the best time to act on it. Sleep it off and then pick-up the conversation again in the morning.
4. Sleep with your pets
I love a cuddle with my dogs as much as the next person (or even more!), but they don’t always understand the idea of quiet time. Sharing your bed with a pet may be comforting, but it’s not always good for a peaceful night’s sleep. Particularly if your pet is a large breed, their movements can disrupt you during the night. There is a good chance you’ll notice every time they scratch, roll or make noise. Not to mention they can hog the covers, leaving you in an intense game of tug o’ war when you want to roll over!
5. Watch TV
If you are one of those lucky people who can fall asleep anywhere, watching a little TV before bed might not bother you. For many of us though, the light from your screen can affect our brain’s ability to wind down. While you might think the noise and the lower lighting makes it easier to drift off, the light can actually affect your circadian rhythms. Without going into too much detail, the light can actually trick your brain and body that’s it is time to be awake when you should be winding down.
The same goes for tablets and phones — even with the new night modes many of them have, it’s best to keep them away from the bed. In general, try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
Poor sleep can have such a big influence on your productivity for the day, and it really is essential for a healthy lifestyle. I recommend being consistent with your sleep schedule and practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’ as much as possible.
Try to stop worrying so much if you can’t fall asleep straight away, as this can often keep you awake as well. As with many concerns, a positive mindset can help to encourage a better quality of sleep. I hope these suggestions make it easier for you to get plenty of restful slumber!