A lot of your natural sleep cycle is dictated by what happens before and after you’re actually well into a deep sleep. How much light is in the room, what you did just prior to going to bed and even what you’ve eaten can all affect the quality of your sleep.
And the quality of your sleep can affect other important parts of your life, like memory, weight loss (or gain) and your moods. You should avoid these 5 things before bed because they may impact your sleep and overall health.
1. Don’t Answer Those Last Few Emails
Resist the overwhelming temptation to answer those last few work-related emails before bed. (Generally, you should try to keep to all of your work on work hours, but that’s a topic for another article.)
Researchers have found that exposure to the blue light from computers or smartphones before bed can suppress your melatonin levels, which can thrown off your body’s sleep clock and your metabolism, according to the Huffington Post. Try to log off at least an hour before bed, and do something more calming, like reading a book.
2. Stay Away From Certain Medications
Bedtime often isn’t the best time to take a medication. Michael Grandner, a psychiatry instructor and member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, told Health.com that some medications have subtle effects that can make you a bit more alert for hours after taking them.
Antidepressants, specifically, can either make you extremely drowsy or much more awake, so it’s best to talk to your doctor about your dosage and when is the best time of day for you to take it. Further, sleeping pills aren’t always the answer. Most over-the-counter meds are only good for short-term use, so if you’re having trouble sleeping and want something more long term, definitely see a doctor.
3. Try To Exercise Earlier Rather Than Later
I know, this doesn’t really make sense when you first read it. But, according to Care2, exercising within three hours of your bedtime can actually raise your body temperature and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Give yourself at least three hours to mellow out, and then the exercise will actually help you sleep better.
4. Don’t Eat Too Much
We all love that full, kind of cozy feeling we get after a big brunch or dinner. The one that makes you want to curl up on the couch and doze off like a lounging cat in the sun.
But resist that feeling, because research has shown that going to bed with a very full stomach could stimulate brain waves and lead to nightmares. Even scarier, the more unhealthy the food, the more disturbing the dreams can be, according to the Huffington Post.
OK, body, I get it, I need to eat healthier and earlier.
5. Try To Avoid That Last Glass Of Wine
Yes, there’s nothing better than a glass of wine on a Friday night to start your weekend off right. (Pro tip: heat it up in pot with a bit of cinnamon and sugar in the winter for a real, European-influenced treat.) But alcohol plays a dirty trick on you when it makes you think that you’re happy and ready for bed.
One doctor told Health.com that as your body begins to metabolize alcohol, it reduces your REM sleep, which is the period of sleep that’s most restorative. Further, alcohol is a diuretic, so you will likely have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom after drinking, which further disrupts your sleep. Drink earlier in the night, with dinner, or don’t drink at all.