Sleeping is a basic need. It is a vital part of human well-being, and its deficiency can cause many physical and mental health problems. Proper sleep also keeps your brain healthy and promotes emotional well-being. The hours stipulated for rest should be interference-free. Loss of sleep can upset your sleep-wake rhythm and affect your health adversely. Getting a good night of sleep can be challenging to achieve, especially when there are many things to remember. Did you pay your bills on time? Do you have an appointment tomorrow? Are you going to make a dish for that next event or party?
Chores aside, there are other reasons most people don’t get a good night of sleep, and it all boils down to bad habits, often bad evening habits. These are activities that people engage in every day that make it difficult for their bodies to shut down at night so that you can get a full eight hours of sleep. Hopefully, by making you aware of some of the most common habits, you can start curbing these bad habits and waking up fully rested the next day. Check out these 40 evening habits that are definitely bad for a good night’s sleep.
Drinking coffee after dinner can hinder a good night’s sleep.
Coffee contains a lot of caffeine, which is a stimulant. It’s great to give you that jolt of energy in the morning, but that’s all it should be suitable for. Drinking coffee late in the day keeps the caffeine in your system for much longer, so don’t have your last coffee of the day at least five hours before bedtime. Studies have shown that even those who fall asleep with a coffee cup in their system are less likely to have a restful sleep. The brain is still on overdrive, so even after eight hours of sleep, you will feel tired the next day.
You may think that checking your phone or reading a book on your tablet will help you fall asleep, but the opposite is true. These devices emit what is called blue light, which stimulates the brain into activity by suppressing melatonin. That is the brain chemical responsible for helping you fall asleep at night. To solve this problem, keep your devices and chargers in a separate room altogether so that you’re not tempted to check your email or watch a quick video to help you sleep. Turn your devices off at least an hour before bedtime so that your brain has some time to wind down. Alternatively, if you can’t kick the habit, see if your phone has an option to reduce the amount of blue light on the screen so that you can fall asleep more quickly.
Working out at night can increase endorphins that make it difficult to sleep.
Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. A little workout before bed isn’t a bad idea as it can earn your body out to prepare for bed. However, what you shouldn’t do is engage in an extreme workout that gets your blood flowing. It takes much longer for your body to come down from this high, so you’re more likely to find yourself lying awake in bed. This notion is due to exercise’s stimulatory effect, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline. Avoid high-intensity workouts at least three hours before bed, or engage in lower intensity exercises that will keep your body fit but won’t kick your adrenaline into overdrive.
Having too many drinks before bed can prevent you from sleeping well.
A cold beer or glass of wine can seem like the perfect way to relax at the end of the day. Alcohol has a reputation of working as a sedative that can make you feel drowsy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to help you sleep. Even if you fall asleep, it disrupts your sleeping patterns, so you’ll find yourself waking up more throughout the night. As alcohol metabolizes in the system, it keeps the body and brain awake. To avoid this problem, it’s best to drink in moderation and don’t have your last drink at least 3 hours before your bedtime. That way, your body can adjust and get most of the alcohol out of your system by the time you’re ready for bed.
If your dinner is eaten right before bed, you’re not giving your body much time to digest, and that can leave you feeling restless throughout the night. It’s much worse if your dinner happens to be fattening and greasy, as this can lead to significant digestion issues. Eating a big meal just before bed can leave you tossing and turn with no sleep. You should also cut out desserts right before bed as they have too much processed sugar. When your stomach is full, the acid form can creep into your esophagus and then into your mouth due to the lying down position. However, if you have to snack before bed, choose foods that have complex carbs that force your body to slow down in the digestion process. Some good snack ideas are carrot sticks, beans, and lentils.
Bringing your problems to bed can hinder solid sleep.
The primary source of sleep problems is stress and anxiety. Many people carry those burdens to bed with them so that they can’t sleep. Not only that but being stressed continuously can place a considerable strain on your overall health. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body doesn’t have enough energy to deal with these additional conditions. Researchers suggest that you create a bedtime routine that tells your body it is time for bed so that you can put that stress aside. Deal with distractions and concerns earlier in the day instead of letting them snowball. Keeping this routine will help you to manage your stress more efficiently.
Many people resort to OTC sleeping pills to help them nod off at night. It works at first, but your body can develop a tolerance to it, so they don’t work anymore after a while. Not only that, but they can make you feel even more sluggish the next day so that you can’t function. Some sleep aids are best for those who have short-term insomnia, but for the long term, you’re better off seeing a doctor for treatment than buying pills over the counter.
Getting last-minute work done in bed can impact your ability to wind down for a good night’s rest.
For some people, sleep is considered a hindrance to getting other things done in the day, and if they could, they would stay up all night. By focusing on work or finishing whatever activity you’re doing before bed, sleep becomes less of a priority despite how much your body needs it. By engaging in this habit of working in bed, you make it harder for your brain to shut off at night so you won’t wake up on time tomorrow. Give your body a break and let it get the rest it deserves.
Trying too hard to fall asleep can make it more difficult.
If you have insomnia, you may start associating bedtime with stress and anxiety. That can make it challenging to go away if you don’t want to resort to medications. Instead of tossing and turning at night, hoping that it will fix itself, try a relaxing activity before bed like meditation or reading a book. After that, if you still can’t fall asleep within twenty minutes, then keep trying relaxing activities until you do. You should also set the alarm to wake up at the same time every day so that your body starts learning and adapting to a sleep cycle.
If you are not in a comfortable environment, you may not be able to fall asleep.
If you’re in a bedroom that has loud music playing, all the lights on, and the heater up too high, there’s no way you’re going to be able to fall asleep. All of this constant noise and distraction will make it very hard for you to fall asleep at night. Instead, turn all the lights off or keep them very low, turn the music off or play some quiet white noise, and make sure the temperature is just right so that you feel comfortable enough to nod off. You may also want to invest in some blackout curtains that can help create a dark, calming environment in which your brain can turn off.
Taking cat naps during the day is not as helpful as you think.
While short naps can be beneficial, long or irregular napping can be extremely harmful. It may feel like your body needs a rest in the middle of the day, but that’s going to make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Power naps in the middle of the day do work for some people, but not all. It has been said that napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime function, whereas longer naps can harm health and sleep quality. So if you find that you have trouble falling asleep at night after you’ve had a rest earlier in the day, then it’s time to cut it out. If you have excessive sleepiness during the day, you might have sleep apnea, which interferes with your REM sleep. You should see a doctor if you think you have this condition.
Using your bedroom as a multimedia room can be incredibly distracting.
Go into anyone’s home, and they’re likely to have a television screen in their bedroom. Keeping the multimedia devices in your bedroom serve as great distractions from you getting enough sleep. There’s just too much stimulation for your brain. Those with televisions in their bedroom are more likely to stay up just a little bit later to watch one more episode or movie. Get all of these devices out of your room and into the living room to avoid a temptation. The peace and quiet will help your brain to wind down for the night so that you can fall asleep faster.
Having a smoke before bed is never a recommendation.
Just like alcohol and coffee, you should not have your last cigarette right before bed. Nicotine is quite addictive, and the withdrawal symptoms are strong enough to wake you in the middle of the night. Besides, nicotine is a stimulant and makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ideally, cigarettes should be avoided altogether, but it would be best if you had your last cigarette at least three to five hours before bed so that the nicotine is flushed from your system. Refrain from lighting up another one when you get that craving, as that’s only going to make the situation worse.
Not going to bed at the same time every night can hinder getting solid sleep.
Your body has something called the circadian rhythm. That is your body’s way of knowing when to fall asleep and when to wake up every day. If you don’t go to bed at the same time every single night, then your body can’t learn when this rhythm is. You can fix this by going to bed when you feel tired and wake up at the same time every single day. It can be tempting to hit your alarm clock for a few extra minutes of sleep, but that’s not helping you in any way.
Catching up on sleep during the weekends can throw off your pattern during the week.
This lousy sleeping habit is similar to the previous point in that your body does not know what pattern to follow. Many people force their bodies to have as little sleep as possible during the week to finish work or spend as much time as they can with friends and family. Then when it comes to the weekend, they decide to crash, thinking that those extra hours of sleep will fix everything. However, that ends up not being the case. Your body is left more confused about your actual sleep pattern, so you’re not doing any favors by sleeping in on the weekends. The lack of routine on the weekends will then carry over into your work week and further contribute to the issue.
Letting in too much light in your bedroom can slow your body’s ability to relax and wind down for the night.
It’s hard to fall asleep in a completely dark room as you can still see the lights through your eyelids. Cover your windows as much as possible, with blinds or blackout curtains that get the job done. You’ll get more restorative sleep this way, and your body will feel more at rest. If it’s not possible to make your room completely dark, then you may want to consider getting a sleep mask to block out the light so that you can stay asleep longer. By blocking out as much light as possible, you send signals to your brain that it is time to wind down.
Not coming to terms with your job can cause sleep issues.
In this day and age, it can be a struggle to find employment, so you feel pretty grateful when you finally land a job. However, if you have been employed for a while and you’ve noticed that you do not sleep very well, your job could very well be the problem. Being overstressed at work will lead to you losing sleep at night, making it hard to wake up, so you can’t focus at work, which can make you even more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. Don’t ignore the signs if your work makes you feel more stressed than actually enjoying what you do. You may have to look for a new job, consider reducing your hours temporarily, or take a mini staycation to help you unwind.
Taking certain medications have side effects that can stall your ability to fall asleep.
There are some medications and supplements you are taking every day that could be affecting your sleep schedule. For example, some pain medications can upset your stomach, making it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor and see if your medications and supplements should be taken at a specific time of day to eliminate your loss of sleep. They may be able to recommend other alternatives that will not have as much of an impact on your sleep quality. Many people may not realize their medications’ effect, so it is crucial to understand precisely what you are taking and the potential side effects they each have.
Drinking tea can create an energy boost that can stop you from falling asleep.
Tea is usually synonymous with calm and relaxation, and most people resort to it as a drink of choice before bed. However, that’s not always the case. Black teas have much caffeine in them, which can keep you up at night. If you love tea, go for herbal teas that have no caffeine or chamomile. Chamomile is especially effective at helping you fall asleep and is even given to babies who have trouble staying asleep at night. If you choose to drink chamomile tea, it can be beneficial to drink it a few hours before going to sleep. Not doing so may cause your body to wake up to use the restroom and further disrupting your sleep cycle.
Eating chocolate before bed will keep you up at night.
Everyone, at some point, has grabbed a small sweet right before bedtime. You want to sneak a little square of dark chocolate before bed, not knowing that it has quite a decent amount of caffeine in it. Dark chocolate is pretty heart-healthy, but don’t resort to sneaking a piece right before bed. Not only does it contain caffeine, but it also has theobromine, which is a chemical that increases the heart rate. So do not expect to fall asleep any time soon when your heart’s gearing to pump all that blood around.
Consuming spicy or fattening foods before bed can adversely affect your sleep.
As we have said before, you should never eat right before bed. However, you can make it even worse by eating a fattening or spicy meal before bed. These both can cause acid reflux to occur, which can keep you up all night, especially if you sleep on your side. It is recommended that you have dinner at least two hours before bed so that your body has some time to digest at least most of your meals. Save the spicy, fried foods for lunchtime.
Drinking too much water can cause disruptions in your sleep.
There is such a thing as drinking too much water. Moreover, during the summer months, when you want to stay hydrated, it can seem like a good idea to get a few glasses before bed. However, that is the worst thing you can do. This habit can be harmful because your bladder is put into overdrive to deal with all these liquids you consumed, and that forces your body to wake up in the middle of the night so that you can relieve yourself. Cut back on those glasses of water before bed, and go before you slip under the sheets, even if you feel like you do not need to.
Letting your dogs on the bed can impact your sleep.
It can feel like a special treat to give your dogs on your bed at night so that you can all fall asleep in a snuggle pile, but all you are doing is making it much harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. For one thing, dogs are much lighter sleepers than humans and will move around at night to get comfortable. That can wake you up, and their shifted position can decrease your comfort. Another thing is that all that pet dander and hair on your bed can make it difficult for you to breathe, especially if you have allergies.
Taking a shower before bed can throw off your internal clock.
Do not think that we are saying you can never shower before bed. A hot soak in a bath is a great way to relax your body so that you can get ready for bed. However, if you shower more often in the evening, you are sending your body the wrong message; it will think that it is time to start the day. Only take a shower before bed if you have to. For instance, if you had a long workout earlier, or you just got grimy. However, don’t switch back and forth randomly between daytime and nighttime showering, as your body will only get confused. A consistent overall routine can aid in your sleep patterns.
Starting an argument before bed can lead to restless sleep.
Because stress is a significant factor in insomnia, you do not want to compound the problem further. Any stressful conversation is going to raise the cortisol levels in your body, as well as your adrenaline. Going to bed with unresolved issues does not make it better either. You will tend to ruminate on the conversation, even if your partner is asleep. Make it a habit to keep serious conversation to daytime so that you have time to hash things out and resolve the situation. Having arguments or difficult conversations right before bed can cause you to toss and turn, trying to deal with the problem at hand. Besides, it can contribute to disruptions in your sleep.
Not exercising enough can impact whether you are getting quality sleep.
While high-intensity exercise will keep you up at night, not getting enough exercise at all can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. It can be a little difficult to squeeze some quality workouts into your day, but it doesn’t take that much. Try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day to improve your sleep quality. It could be something as simple as walking your dog down the street a few times a day or doing laps at the mall. Taking care of your body and health can help your body become tired at the end of the day and make falling asleep a little easier. If you are not moving your body enough, you may end up with much energy in the evening, making it more challenging to settle in for bed.
You have had one comfortable pillow since college that you can not bear to part with because you have not found another pillow that’s quite like it. Sure, it may be great, but if your pillow is not supportive, then it’s time to chuck it into the dumpster. One of the reasons many people don’t fall asleep is due to unsupported pillows. It all depends on how you sleep: if you sleep on your back or front, then you’ll need a thin but firm pillow; side-sleepers need thicker cushions to fill the space between their heads and the mattress. Alternatively, having too many pillows on the bed can also strain your neck muscles, preventing you from entering REM sleep. It is vital to invest in a good pillow that will contribute to your quality of sleep.
Not getting enough sunlight in the morning can impact your sleep quality.
Exposure to sunlight in the morning helps your brain to stop making melatonin so that you can wake up. That helps to improve your circadian rhythm so that you can feel more alert when you need to. It can be difficult if you have blackout curtains on your bedroom windows. Set your alarm, and as soon as it goes off, open all of your curtains. It can feel like a shock to your system, but it will get your body moving in the right direction. Alternatively, get some time outside before you head to work. Depending on where you live, it may require more effort in the winter months when it gets brighter later in the morning and earlier in the evening. You may need to shift your sleep patterns slightly to ensure you can get the sufficient sunlight required.
Checking the time in the middle of the night can slow down your ability to fall back asleep.
When people wake up in the middle of the night, their first instinct is to look at the clock to see how many hours they have left before they need to get up. That is a terrible habit to break, as you feel like you are preparing yourself. However, you’re making it harder to fall asleep. Doing the math on the number of hours you have left jump-starts the logic of your brain, which can be hard to turn off. Just don’t look at the clock if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, and you’ll find it much easier to fall back asleep. It may be beneficial to reduce the number of clocks in your bedroom to limit the temptation. Also, be sure to move your phone away from your bed to resist checking the time.
Going from home to work and back again, you miss getting much sunshine in your day. That can lead to a vitamin D deficiency that throws your body for a loop. For one thing, vitamin D is linked to improved sleep quality. It’s recommended that you get at least 30 to 45 minutes of sunlight exposure outside to improve your sleep quality. You can go for a walk or sit on your deck, reading the paper. No matter how you do it, getting some is better than getting none.
Spending too much time alone can affect your ability to get sound sleep at night.
Studies have shown that depression, anxiety, and spending too much time alone can affect your sleep quality. It can be challenging to get out there when you’re feeling down, but maintaining your connections with others can help you get better sleep. Even if you can’t make a date to spend time with friends and take a trip to a place where there are lots of people, like a mall or a restaurant, it can be enough. However, if you do feel that your depression makes it difficult for you to leave your home, then it would be best to talk to your doctor.
Skipping your annual physical can result in worse rest.
Many of the bad habits mentioned above may be a struggle to deal with, but a more significant problem could cause your lack of sleep. By going to your physical every year, your doctor may be able to help you find the source of your sleep problems. It could be a thyroid issue, for example, or anxiety. It could also be the result of medications that you’ve been prescribed, so raising these concerns during your physical will make it easier for the problem to be diagnosed instead of struggling with it all by yourself.
Staying up too late can be a harmful evening habit.
Consistently staying up too late working or watching your favorite series can have adverse effects on your health. Doing so disturbs your sleep-wake cycle, and the continuation of this habit can lead you to develop insomnia. Once you do not sleep during the night, you might feel a stronger urge to nap during the day. Additionally, staying up late at night decreases your productivity. You may be able to accomplish much work done during the night, but you may feel equally tired and unproductive the next day. Rather than staying up late, you must maintain a proper work-life balance by working in the day and getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep during the night.
Drinking — or eating — caffeine whatsoever is a definite no.
Although commonly drunk throughout the day for energy, caffeine should be avoided at all costs in the evening. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is found in tea and coffee. It can significantly interfere with your sleep. When consumed, it quickly gets absorbed into your bloodstream, when then works to keep your mind and body active. If you feel the need to quench your thirst, try reaching for some water instead. Adding caffeine to your body will signal that you are trying to stay awake, so it is vital to be aware of just how much caffeine is being added to your body and at what time.
Most of us enjoy a little channel surfing before bed. It is one of the top late-night activities, with many individuals having televisions in their bedrooms to lay in bed while doing so. The issue is that staring at a TV can result in chronic sleep debt. Not only does the screen light impact your body’s ability to wind down, but watching shows keeps your mind active. The choice to stay up late to watch one more episode on Netflix can contribute to your irregular sleep patterns. Try setting a limit for yourself on the number of episodes you will observe, or perhaps try recording your favorite shows or movies to watch at a better time.
Talking on the phone in the evening can hinder adequate sleep.
Our smartphones are an extension of our bodies at this point. While there are many ways in which smartphones are used to increase productivity, there is no denying the unknown and emerging ways they are also hurting our health. Not only can the small amounts of radiation coming out of our cell phones seriously throw off our sleep, but they can also cause headaches. Those who use their cell phones right before bed have more difficulty falling asleep and take a longer time to reach deep, quality sleep. While keeping in touch with business clients or loved ones is extremely important, it is also critical to know when to turn the phone off to ensure you are getting the quality sleep your body needs.
Being too hot or too cold will interrupt your rest.
Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are critical factors in getting a good night’s sleep. One of those vital factors involves the temperature in your bedroom. Before winding down for the night and beginning your bedtime routine, be sure to check the temperature of your bedroom. The climate in your bedroom should be on the cool side before you close your eyes at night. Doing so will increase your chances of getting a healthy and uninterrupted amount of sleep every night. Ideally, your room should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for quality sleep. If your room is warmer than this and you are experiencing disrupted sleep, try adding this to your evening routine and see if your sleep improves.
Having a lousy bed quality is a red flag for restless nights.
Some people wonder why they always sleep better when they are staying in a hotel. Apart from ensuring a relaxing environment, your bed’s quality can play a massive role in getting sufficient sleep. Ensuring you have a quality mattress can allow your body, muscles, and even mind to wind down and relax at night. It can also limit the number of times you toss and turn that disturb your sleep cycle. You may also wake up feeling more refreshed and without back pain or stiffness. Besides, your bedding can enhance your quality of sleep. Your bed, mattress, and pillow can significantly affect sleep quality and joint or back pain. Try to invest in high-quality bedding and mattress every five to eight years. Doing so can drastically improve not only your sleep but your overall health as you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
Overthinking in the evening can linger into sleep quality.
One of the most critical components of quality sleep is getting your mind to relax and wind down. Stimulants such as caffeine can signal to your brain to stay active. Likewise, partaking in too much critical thinking, can have the same impacts. Whether you are working through a challenging business-related issue or talking through a tough life decision with your partner, your mind is required to think critically. Signaling the need to think critically hinders its ability to wind down and relax. That can mean that you might find yourself staying up later as you toss and turn in bed, and will leave you feeling exhausted in the mornings.
Not having a consistent alarm for the morning and night will cause for improper sleep.
A good night’s sleep is just as critical as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Poor sleep has immediate adverse effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. Quality sleep can contribute to your overall health. At some point, we have all experienced days that last longer than others and throw off any hopeful routine you may have. Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and bedtimes can aid in long-term sleep quality. Even on the weekends or vacations, you should attempt to go to bed at similar times. Doing so helps your body recognize that it is time to go to sleep and help you wind down quicker.