5 Bedtime Mistakes That Can Decrease Sleep Quality

Posted by Bethaney Wallace on 1st Apr 2014

Out of all the issues you've ever had falling asleep, it’s likely that they've never been called mistakes. Bad decisions maybe, but not “mistakes.” In fact, more often than not, the reason you can’t get to sleep is through no fault of your own. For whatever reason, some nights it’s just harder to fall asleep than others. Whether you've tossed and turned, eaten too much before bed, or simply haven’t been tired, there are a number of things that can contribute to loss of sleep. And other times, it’s just un-restful sleep in and of itself – the kind where you’re sleeping, but wake up constantly, or can’t quite drift all the way into dreamland. (You know the feeling, where you’re dreaming, but there’s something so important you’re to be doing you can’t quite enjoy it. Usually from something that’s made up by your subconsciousness.)

But did you know there are certain behaviors that make it harder to sleep? Sure, some are obvious, like not sticking to a normal bedtime or eating just shortly before you head to sleep. But there are other, less telling factors that can interrupt the resting process. Or, as researchers are calling them, pre-sleep “mistakes.”

Before heading to bed each night, avoid these five glaring steps, each of which could leave you staring at the ceiling for hours on end.

5. Packing on the Protein

If you eat a meal that is too protein-rich in the evenings, your body could be working hard to digest as you’re ready to fall asleep. Because these foods take the longest for the body to process, it can mean less efficient sleeping cycles. Not to mention stomach cramps from foods that are being broken down while you’re horizontal. For restful sleep and a body that can fully commit to its sleeping duties, avoid large meals before bed – especially those that are rich with protein.

4. Avoiding Exercise “Before Bed”

While working out just might provide you with a boost of energy, it’s rarely one that will interfere with sleep. (Unless you work out, say, 15 minutes before bed.) According to recent research, exercise at any time of the day can help relax the body when it’s time for bed. The natural burst of alertness at the time is simply an added perk.

3. Not Getting Comfortable

We all know the feeling of dread when you can’t get to sleep. You toss and turn, look at the clock, and wonder what time you can finally drift back into dreamland. But, this habit can also increase anxiety and an environment that actually discourages sleep. Instead, watch TV, read, or simply leave the bedroom until you’re once again tired. This simple trick will reduce tension while promoting a relaxing environment (not one in which you can’t find sleep) each time you step foot into your bedroom.

2. Having a Hot Shower (or Bath)

Bad news for the nighttime shower/bath takers – this act could be significantly raising your body’s temperature. At night, the body naturally drops in temp to allow for a pre-bed ritual within. But when you take a hot shower, the core temperature rises and those steps can no longer take place. To avoid this sleeping mistake, keep your baths not-so-steamy, or schedule them at least an hour before bedtime.

1. Slouching

Believe it or not, keeping a bad posture throughout the day will decrease sleeping patterns. Because the bones and muscles aren't held into place, aches and pains can occur, which can make it difficult (or rather painful) to lay down each night. Instead, sit up straight not only to strengthen your posture, but to encourage a night of deep resting sleep.