Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Sleep Schedule

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep, but even if you manage to carve out time in your schedule to get enough sleep, you may have a hard time nodding off or staying asleep once you do. According to recent studies, sleep disruption has become something of a hidden public health epidemic in recent years. Surprisingly, this may have a lot to do with what you’re doing while you’re awake. Getting daylight plays a big part in keeping your circadian rhythm — the internal regulator of sleep and wakefulness — functioning properly. It’s recommended that you get at least 20-30 minutes of sunlight in the morning hours and avoid blue light for two hours before bedtime. Interestingly, daytime blue light has no impact on our sleep cycle, but too much in the evening can delay the onset of melatonin — the hormone that lets your body know it’s time to sleep. Using your phone or being on a computer in the evening can trick your body into thinking it’s not bedtime. Another thing that could be sabotaging your sleep is taking a nap during the day to “catch up” on lost sleep. That can actually do more harm than good. If you’re going to nap during the day, keep it brief. The ideal power nap is 15-20 minutes and should not be taken after 3 p.m. Pre-bedtime snacks can also have an impact, with foods like chocolate, sugar, saturated fat, and caffeine being the biggest culprits. To help you get to sleep, a good pre-bedtime snack would be walnuts, avocado, full-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and fish. Allow yourself at least 2 hours to digest snacks to prevent heartburn and trouble sleeping. Finally, make your bedroom just that — a BED room — which means no reading, no watching TV, and no texting. You have to train your body to recognize that going to the bedroom means its ready to go to sleep. You can’t do anything that would confuse your body into associating the bed with wakefulness. If these lifestyle changes don’t help, it may be time to discuss with your doctor ways to help you establish a consistent, healthy sleep schedule.