Good sleep habits are essential to wellness and healthy living. There are many people who think it’s perfectly fine to function on six or seven hours of sleep. Others seem to believe that an all-nighter like we tried to pull in college won’t affect us.
Though we’re all busy people, staying up at all hours to meet those deadlines will impact your life.
In this article, we’ll look into how bad sleep habits affect your mental and physical health and the good sleep habits you should take up to be energetic every day.
Table of Contents
Effects of a Lack of Sleep
If you don’t have good sleep habits, your professional and personal life will be at risk. Even the most subtle signs of exhaustion can set off major signals to others.
You might be going about your day believing everything is fine after skipping some hours of sleep, but later, you’re overwhelmed and your mind is clouded.
People around you will notice if you’re a bit off or can’t keep up at work. If you feel the need to take a nap because you’re tired, that means you didn’t sleep well the night before.
This is an example of a bad sleep habit: you stayed up too late, so the next day, you try to catch up a bit to get through, so you nap for ten minutes, then twenty minutes, and then an hour!
The National Sleep Foundation says that if you nap due to tiredness, you’ll end up entering a cycle of sleep that will mess with your sleep/wake schedule. Scientists call this your circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour internal clock and cycles between sleeplessness and alertness at regular intervals. The clock exists within the brain and determines how much or little energy you’ll have at various periods of your day.
If your alertness is always compromised, you’re setting yourself up for frequent disasters.
There are several subtle and detrimental consequences you might face if you haven’t been getting enough shut-eye. Studies now say it’s critical to get eight or nine hours of sleep. Anything less than that and you’ll suffer work-performance failures or other mishaps. You don’t want to take sleep disturbances and issues lightly.
One study even found that “people who have slept for fewer than seven of the past 24 hours have higher odds of being involved in and responsible for car crashes. The risk is greatest for drivers who have slept fewer than four hours”. Therefore, sleep deprivation can have very real and negative consequences for both you and those around you.
Often times, we may think we’re getting enough sleep and don’t know why we’re fatigued and drained. It’s easy to blame it on diet, lack of exercise, or too much work. And yes, those things do factor into the mystery of your lacking energy.
These days, in the digital age, it’s even more difficult to establish a healthy sleep routine when we’re constantly stimulated by external sources—the news, social media, and friends’ updates keep us constantly “checked in.”
We live in a time when cell-phone reliance is undeniable and also affecting our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I’ve heard people complain about their email demanding their attention at all hours of the night.
We’re taking in and internalizing more than we realize, and we need to give it all a rest. This is why a nine-hour night of sleep is imperative.
4 Bad Sleep Habits to Avoid
Our brains need sleep to process and unwind. If you’re at a loss about how to structure a healthy sleep life, these are some sleep habits to avoid.
1. Putting Your Phone Near Your Head While Sleeping
Do you tuck your phone under your pillow when you sleep? Do you rely on your phone and use it as an alarm to wake you up in the morning?
It’s not a good idea to use your phone to start your day. You’ll check your email or other social networks the second your alarm buzzes, which can often lead to immediate stress or a bad mood.
A clear head will make falling asleep fast and easy with no electronics nearby, and you’ll wake up feeling restored.
2. Keeping Devices in the Bedroom
Technology devices have lights on them, very bright lights that can mess with sleep schedules. A lit up room will cause sleep disturbances or make you want to do work or other things.Complete darkness will allow the brain to process melatonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that makes you tired and ready for sleep. The blue light exposure on your phone’s screen, for example, is enough to confuse the brain into thinking it’s daylight, which will make it difficult to stay asleep throughout the night.
Electronics such as electrical toothbrushes, televisions, computers, a diffuser, and others should be in a position where they can’t be seen.
3. Having a Messy Environment
Clutter, piles of laundry, piles of papers, and anything you can pile up as high as a mountain should be kept to a minimum if you want a good night’s sleep.
A messy environment increases tension on the home-front and leaves you with the feeling of having a lot to do. Downsizing on your possessions benefits stress levels, promotes calmness, and provides a sense of peace.
As we get older, it’s easy to hoard everything into a space. Our closets, garages, or basements become a dumpster site. However, living in this way will derail your mental and physical health. You might not recognize how overwhelmed you’re feeling about having so much stuff.
Take some time to see where you can lighten the load in your home.
4. Doing Work Close to Bedtime
If you’re your own boss or you work a job where anybody can call you any hour of the day and demand something, it’s OK to say no during the hours before bedtime.
It’s tough if you work in a field that requires being on-call. You have the right to draw healthy boundaries and schedule time for yourself to relax in the few hours before bed.
An evening routine after dinner may be the answer to putting an end to work chaos. If you don’t give yourself these hours of relaxation, you’ll feel off balance.
4 Good Sleep Habits to Include
After knowing all the bad sleeping habits you should ditch, here are good sleep habits to include to wake up energized and ready for the day:
1. Invest in a Diffuser
A diffuser has an incredible amount of sleep benefits. For years, essential oils have been used to help insomnia, sleep disturbances, and to rewire the brain while easing anxiety in the mind.
Essential oils such as lavender or valerian essential oils are the best sleep aids. Lavender calms the nervous system by alleviating bothersome anxiety-driven thoughts, and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. These oils, like chamomile essential oil, naturally starts the body and mind’s sleep processes.
Consult your doctor before using essential oils to make sure they are right for you.
2. Lay out Your Clothes the Night Before
A system is the best way to overcome stress and anxiety, which interfere with sleep, so make this one of your good sleep habits.
Mornings should be reserved for the opportunity to squeeze in a healthy breakfast, not rush to pick an outfit and scramble. If this has been you lately, try establishing a routine to make going to bed and waking up less turbulent.
A great day really does start the night before. These are mindful practices that can alter the course of your day and life in the long-term.
3. Use a Different Types of Alarm
Instead of waking up to a buzzing, ringing, obnoxious alarm in the morning, try implementing affirmations or nature sounds. There are alarm clocks you can set so you can rise to a calming voice telling you positive things.
Apps on your phone can do this. A shocking alarm can trigger anger and make waking up dreadful, especially if the sound makes you shout curse words the moment you open your eyes.
Mornings should be for easing into your work day, not doing a jack-rabbit start.
4. Do a Meditative Activity an Hour Before Bed
An hour before bed, do something that eliminates thoughts from your mind. Doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen is a good way to clear your head and stress from a day.
Try going for an evening walk outside, and listen to your breathing, footsteps, and nature around you. When you get home, try five or ten minutes of meditation. Doing something relaxing, even for a short time, will calm the mind.
Here are some great guided meditations for sleep to get you started.
The Bottom Line
You can use these good sleep habits and lifestyle practices as strategies to develop a healthier sleep life. Over time, you’ll feel more energized and will start your day on the right foot, meaning each day will be more productive and fulfilling.
The early morning and early dusk are critical for your brain to regulate a healthy sleep/wake cycle so you can succeed in your daily life. Use them wisely to improve your sleep.
More on How to Sleep Better
- How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind
- The Importance of Sleep Cycles (and Tips to Improve Yours)
- 9 Best Sleep Tracker Apps to Help You Get Adequate Sleep
Featured photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via unsplash.com
|||^||Sleep Foundation: Napping|
|||^||Liveli: Everything You Need to Know About Your Circadian Rhythm|
|||^||Science Daily: Sleep deprived people more likely to have car crashes|
|||^||Sleep Foundation: How to Make Your Room Dark|
|||^||Healthline: Which Essential Oils Promote Better Sleep?|