We all love sleep right? There’s nothing better than curling up in a comfy bed after a long day and luring yourself into a restful night of snoozing. But sometimes we actually engage in behaviors that get in the way of this plan! Believe it or not, some of the most common things you are doing, are actually sabotaging your sleep! Read on for the 5 most common sleep mistakes people make:
1. Being Inconsistent with Your Sleep Schedule
Your body thrives on routine and schedule. And the more routine you give it, the better it adapts to it. Sleep is no exception. Following the same sleep schedule (same bed time, same awake time) every day, sets up your internal clock to do most of the work for you! It will start to cue you when it’s time for bed, and it will wake up much easier in the morning. Plus, it will take less time to fall asleep and get you the most recovery benefits from your sleep!
2. Sleeping in on Weekends
As I just mentioned above, routine is kind when it comes to sleep. That’s why it’s so much easier to wake up for work on Thursday morning than it is on Monday morning---because you’ve probably been following a sleep schedule all week and that schedule goes out the window on the weekends! Because we tend to go to bed later on weekend nights, we also tend to sleep later on weekend mornings. That sets us up for “Sunday night Insomnia” because we are trying to go to sleep at a regular time on Sunday night but we haven’t been awake as long as we usually are. So, our body is simply not ready for sleep. Keeping your weekend sleep schedule as close as possible to your weekday sleep schedule will help keep you healthy and sleeping well all week!
3. Using the Bed for Too Many Things
Our bed should be the thing we connect closest with sleep and sleepiness. We should crawl into bed and immediately feel relaxed and ready for sleep. But, when we use our bed as a place to watch TV, pay our bills, make phone calls, play with our kids, or any other sort of wakeful activities, we end up changing that connection. Instead of looking at our bed as a cue for sleepiness, we know associate the bed with wakefulness! Try and limit the use of your bed to sleeping and sex and move all of your other activities elsewhere. It will make your bed a string cue for sleep!
4. Using Alcohol as a Sleep Aide
Many people consume alcohol in the evening because it “helps them sleep.” This is a bit of an erroneous belief because what it actually does is help them FALL asleep, but it doesn’t help them stay asleep or help the quality of their sleep. In fact, it does just the opposite! Alcohol is a depressant which is why it helps us fall asleep, but because it is metabolized in our body during sleep, it actually interferes with our sleep quality and keeps us from getting the deep, restorative sleep that we need to feel fresh and rested the next day. Skip the alcohol and try chamomile tea or lavender!
5. Staying in Bed When You are Unable to Sleep
Waking up in the middle of the night is frustrating. The tossing and turning and constant checking of the clock don’t help anything; in fact, they actually make it harder for you to fall asleep. Staying in bed when you are awake subconsciously connects being in bed with being awake and that is the LAST thing you want if you want to sleep well! So, instead of tossing and turning and pretending like you are going to fall back asleep any second, get out of bed for 20-30 minutes and engage in a quiet activity (reading, writing, doing a puzzle, etc). Then, when you are feeling sleepy again, go back to bed and try again.
Are you engaging in any of these common sleep mistakes? If so, make a plan to start correcting them ASAP. Your body and brain will thank you when they start getting better sleep!
Dr. Candice Seti, aka The Weight Loss Therapist, is the world’s leading eating and behavioral change specialist. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Weight Management Specialist, and Certified Insomnia Treatment Clinician. This distinctive set of specializations forms the backbone of her unique approach to weight loss. Learn more at www.MeOnlyBetter.com and www.TheWeightLossTherapist.com.