March 28, 2023

Eight Things to Avoid Before Bedtime

Eight Things to Avoid Before Bedtime

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is important. From your mood to your everyday energy to your overall well-being, sleep plays a major role in our quality of life. When you think about it, it can even affect major decisions like whether we choose to exercise, make healthy food choices, or actively pay attention throughout the day. When you’re not getting the rest you need to function at your full capacity, it can be understandably frustrating. That’s why so many sleep remedies and home remedies for insomnia exist.

However, believe it or not, the quality of sleep you enjoy– or not – throughout the night starts long before you shut your eyes. If you’ve tried several things to help you sleep, or read articles detailing ways to fall asleep fast, and you’re still not getting the results you want, you might consider whether you’re doing one of these bedtime habits that can interfere with your sleep. After all, your wind-down routine can positively or negatively affect how restful your slumber is. With that said, here are eight bedtime changes you can make to improve your sleep routine.

1. Ditch your after-dinner coffee
We love a cup of coffee with dessert as much as the next person, but in the middle of the night, the lingering effects of its caffeine can leave you feeling, well, bitter. If you drink tea to help you sleep, ensure that it’s anon-caffeinated blend. Even less-talked-about caffeine culprits like chocolate and soda can keep you awake when you’re ready to drift off to dream land.

2. Nix your nightcap
For a lot of people, alcohol induces drowsiness, so it seems like an evening cocktail could point you in the right direction. But there’s a difference between deep, restful sleep and surface-level sleep – and alcohol puts you in the latter category. A few hours later, you’ll likely be stirring awake.

3. Limit screen time before bedtime
You may be thinking, “Reading on my phone can help me sleep!” But it’s recommended that you shut down any bright screens at least two hours before you’re ready to turn in for the night. And yes, the “blue light” found on smartphones, computers and even televisions are particularly bad. By turning screens off with plenty of time before bed, your body will be better prepared for sleep.

4. Cut out naptime
For infants and small children, they say sleep begets sleep. For adults? Not so much. Especially if it’s later than 3 p.m., you’re potentially causing a cycle of not getting enough sleep, then feeling the need to catch up. Try a brisk walk to wake yourself up instead.

5. Say no to nighttime snacking
Okay, so in reality, a light snack isn’t likely to do damage. But a big meal or a heavy midnight snack jumpstarts your metabolism and wakes up your brain. It can even cause indigestion or nightmares – not exactly the recipe for peaceful slumber. There are foods that help you sleep, like kiwi, but anything too rich is bound to interrupt your rest.  

6. Workout when the sun’s out
Getting exercise is actually linked to improving sleep levels, as long as you don’t exercise too close to bedtime. If you find that you have trouble sleeping following your nighttime gym sessions, bump up your workout to the daytime, or at least three hours prior to bed.

7. Halt your overthinking
We’ve all done it: You’re in bed, and suddenly, a rush of thoughts inexplicably takes over your mind. Worst of all, it can be anything from “Did I leave dishes in the sink?” to overanalyzing an embarrassing moment from years prior. Keep a pen and pad nearby if you think of something in bed that you want to remember. Otherwise, hold those thoughts for the morning. If you have trouble shutting off your brain when you get into bed, there are soothing sounds to help you sleep that might help block out the running thoughts, too.

8. Minimize the major discussions
There’s never a great time to have an argument or a difficult conversation, but before bedtime is especially bad. That’s because those complex, heated discussions trigger hormones that keep you awake. Instead, focus on soothing, calming activities in the evening, like yoga or reading. There really is something to the old saying, “Never go to bed angry!”

These tips for better sleep will have you on your way to sweet dreams before you know it, no sleep meds required. Rest up, take it easy and start treating yourself to the sleep you deserve. And if your sleep troubles are causing chronic health concerns, come see us at Laredo Emergency Room any hour of the day or night for exceptional medical care from some of Texas’ best doctors.

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