When our sleep seems to be unsatisfactory, our natural tendency is to want to get some rest as soon as possible. This tendency may lead us to do things that help make up for the lost sleep in the immediate, short term but they are not helpful in the long-term. Here is a list of common ways people try to cope with their sleeping problems, but the consequences on the sleep is anything but helpful. It also includes other harmful habits that can disurb your sleep. Think about whether you have done any of these things too:
1.Staying in bed when you’re not tired and/ or being active in bed (incl. working, eating, watching television, talking on the phone etc) – our bodies learn cues or triggers that signal that it’s time to wake up or to go to sleep. Staying in bed for long periods while awake gets the body used to associate the bed as another place to stay awake in rather than a place to sleep in. When there is no strong association of the bed with sleep, the body does not get into a sleep induced relaxation mode. The likelihood of falling asleep easily is thus reduced.
2.Going to bed early the next night or Sleeping late in the morning – When you are getting sleep at times that do not fit your natural sleep cycle, it can confuse the body about the correct times to wake up and to be asleep. Sleeping in to make up for the lost sleep will mean being less tired on the next night so the sleep troubles will continue. Sleeping in late or getting to bed earlier than usual thus teaches the body a new sleep pattern, which messes up the natural sleep cycle even more.
3.Sometimes when we stay at home (e.g. in the weekend or a day off) we choose to nap during the day- Making up for the missed sleep during the day will mean that you will be less likely to fall asleep on schedule and/or less likely to stay asleep throughout the whole night. In any case, if you really must, know that naps longer than thirty minutes are discouraged by doctors and are also self- sabotaging to your sleep.
4.Doing emotional and/or cognitive demanding activities right before bedtime (e.g. discussing emotional issues, paying bills, working, studying, emailing etc). Your mind needs a wind-down period in order to be able fall asleep. Doing these activities keeps it alert and stimulated which is incongruous to the state it should be in.
5.Spending time thinking or worrying about not getting enough sleep and the possible catastrophic consequences thereof .To read more about the impact of vicious cycle of negative thoughts on your sleep and what you can do about it click on this link-
6.Focusing on things that are upsetting to you while lying in bed. If your thoughts are running uncontrollably and you find yourself awake for longer than 30 minutes then you might as well get out of bed and do something to calm down and relax, which will improve chances of falling asleep.
7.Using iphone iPads, tablets etc before bed time – These gadgets give off a bright blue light that suppresses melatonin production and messes up the circadian rhythms. As a result, you stay longer awake and alert, thus it is keeping you up later than you want to be and the sleep is more disturbed and restless. Additionally, studies show that respondents, who use iPad and even after they have slept 8 hours, were still sleepier and less alert the morning after.
8.Exercising right before bedtime (especially if it happens every night) goes against the natural sleep rhythm of the body and will make it more difficult to get back on a normal sleep cycle. Your body needs a wind-down and cool down period too.
9.Consuming caffeine beverages late in the evening– Caffeine is a stimulant that elevates heart rate and blood pressure and can make you feel more alert, which can interfere with your sleep. Don’t consume it before bed or after waking up in the middle of the night. Research actually encourages people, who have insomnia not drink caffeinated beverages after lunchtime.
10.Drinking alcohol before bedtime- While alcohol can help people fall asleep, this effect wears off after a few hours. Once the alcohol starts to wear off, it causes sleep disturbances and awakenings, leading to poor sleep quality. If you have insomnia and you like to drink with dinner, is it suggested not to have more than one serving of alcohol with the meal and certainly not afterwards.
11. Watching the clock– just like watching a pot does not make it boil faster, if you keep focusing on the clock and calculating how long it takes you to fall asleep every few minutes or how long sleep time you still have, it does not promote sleep but promotes anxiety, frustrations,muscle tension and restlessness. That disrupts your ability to fall asleep even more.