We all love sleep. There’s nothing worse than having our beloved sleep disrupted, which can turn us into intolerable people when we wake up in the morning. How much sleep we actually need is different for all of us, but the average Joe needs around 7–9 hours per night.

It is imperative for us to get enough sleep to allow us to perform optimally. Many of us attempt to trick our mind and body into thinking we don’t need sleep by consuming copious amounts of caffeine, but this can damage our ability to properly judge a situation and it can wreak havoc on our long-term concentration.

Although we may blame others for our disrupted sleep, the culprit is most likely ourselves. When it comes to everyday habits, like going to bed later than expected every night, we tend to do them unconsciously, which makes it difficult to actually solve the problem. Even the way we sleep can have a distinct impact on how tired we feel the next day. Can you identify with any of these sleeping habits?    

Take a look at these 8 everyday habits that could be disrupting your sleep patterns, making you feel groggy in the morning.

1. Drinking alcohol before bed.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not let us sleep better. Alcohol may help us fall asleep faster, which sounds like a good thing, but it also robs us of our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is the stage where dreams occur. The consequence of this is that our sleep feels less restful and we end up groggy and dehydrated in the morning.

Not only can alcohol disrupt our sleep, but it can also stop us from sleeping entirely. Persistent consumption of alcohol before bed as a means to “help us sleep” can have a hugely negative effect and cause insomnia. If you wish to drink in the evenings, try stopping around 2 hours before bedtime.

2. Working out late at night.

This also may come to you as a surprise, but exercise before bed is a big no-no. Our body temperature decreases at night, which is a signal that it’s time to sleep. Exercise however, can raise our body temperature as much as two degrees and also stimulates our heart, brain and muscles. This couldn’t be more opposite from what we want.

Bear in mind that regular exercise can actually help us have a more restful night, so it is recommended that we exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime, but not later than that.

3. Having slumber parties with your pets.

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We all love our pets, so much so that many of us allow our pets to sleep in the bed with us at night. With the added comfort and warmth, what’s not to like? How about their unusual sleep cycles? Animals don’t have the same sleep cycles as us, so they may be up and ready to play at 4 a.m. where we could happily do with another 3 hours.

According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, 53% of people acknowledge that their animals do in fact disrupt their sleep. Do yourself a favor (and probably them too), and don’t allow your pets to sleep in your bed with you.

4. Being obsessed with your mobile device.

Electronic devices are becoming more of an integral part of our modern lives than ever before, and with the heaps of advantages attached to them, we tend to not dwell on the side effects of our excessive use. Recent technology developments have seen us using bigger and brighter screens on our devices, which are helping fuel the fire when it comes to sleep disruption. A survey conducted by MySofaBeds reveals that 65% of us relax before bed by watching TV, a notable cause in sleep disruption.

The bright lights from our devices suppress melatonin levels, a chemical that controls our body clock. To combat this, try to dim your devices as much as possible in order to minimize melatonin suppression and limit the time spent on these devices prior to bedtime.

5. Over-exerting yourself.

You may think that the more tired you feel, the easier it will be to drift off to sleep. But it is possible to be too exhausted to fall asleep quickly. After a long hard day at work, stumbling to bed in the wee hours of the morning may seem like the best thing to do, but typically it’s not.

After an emotionally and physically hard working day, it is recommended to take time to unwind before bed. Jumping straight into bed may lead to still being awake 45 minutes later. Don’t rush off to bed; stay up and read a book or enjoy the company of others. You will soon feel yourself drifting off naturally and becoming ready for bed.

6. Going to bed hungry.

The age-old debate: to eat or not to eat before bed? Whereas some people shy away from eating before bed when hungry in the fear of gaining weight, others will indulge themselves to keep off those hunger pains that can disrupt sleep.

In truth, it is best to have a small snack before bed if you feel hunger creeping up on you. Have enough to subside your hunger until the morning. Having an all-out fridge raid is not needed just before bed and is linked to an increased risk of obesity.

7. Going to bed stressed.

Going to bed stressed becomes a vicious cycle. You stress because of your day-to-day work. You then go to sleep, which is disrupted by stress, and then you stress because you are tired. This type of schedule can soon become part of your daily routine and can be hard to crack.

Giving yourself a little bit of “me” time before bed can play a huge part in going to sleep in a more relaxed manner. Take time to listen to music; have a soak in the bath or enjoy light exercise like yoga or walking. You’ll never look back!

8. Allowing light into your bedroom.

I’m not talking about people who sleep with the light on (you shouldn’t do that anyway), but I am talking about ambient light from street lights, TVs on standby, alarm clocks, etc. The light from these objects is still strong enough to enter your retinas even when your eyes are closed. This can upset your internal clock, thus making you feel awake.

A simple solution is to do a quick check before you go to bed. Turn alarm clocks to face the wall, turn TVs off at the wall socket, and completely shut your curtains. Doing this will save you from finding yourself suddenly awake at 3 a.m.

Related article: 10 Things Most Successful People Do At Night Before Sleep

Featured photo credit: Basau – dreaming of eating / by BAAB via flickr.com

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