Sleep: everybody needs it. But with our busy lifestyles, full of technology, caffeine, and other vices, are we getting enough sleep? And if so, are we getting the right kind of sleep?
Getting a good night of sleep isn’t as easy as it sounds. From sleeping a full seven hours, to turning off all of our devices, to not eating or drinking before bed, the rules are complex and complicated. Are you sleeping wrong? Check out these 12 common problems to find out.
1. Your sleep tracker dictates your life.
Sometimes, sleep trackers can tell you if you’ve gotten a good night sleep. But you shouldn’t NEED it to. You should know whether or not you wake up refreshed, and if you usually wake up feeling groggy or craving your coffee, your sleep tracker is obviously not helping you. Ditch it, and get seven to nine hours of sleep, whether your tracker says so or not.
2. You don’t utilize pillows.
One pillow under your head isn’t enough. If you’re a back-sleeper, place a pillow under your knees to alleviate pressure on your back. And if you’re a side-sleeper, put a pillow between your legs to keep your spine aligned.
3. You sleep face-down.
Stomach-sleepers, this one is for you. Laying on your stomach with your face turned out will twist your spine, which can cause serious issues over time, like neck and back pain, and problems with staying asleep in the future. You can fix this tendency with pillows; wedge one between the armpit and hip of the side you normally turn your head towards, while bending your elbow and knee.
4. You drink before bed.
Alcohol and a good night of sleep do not mix. Drinking will mess up your sleep cycle, and you’ll likely never reach that deep sleep your body craves. The more drinks you have, the worse quality your sleep will have. So if you are planning on drinking, start early in the night and switch to water before bed.
5. You don’t have a bedtime.
Going to sleep whenever you feel like it confuses your body. If you hit the hay early one day, and then stay up all night the next, your body won’t know when to shut down, and it will off-set your sleep cycle. If you get into a pattern, it will make mornings so much easier, because you will feel well rested every day.
6. You sleep in on the weekends.
If you’re the kind of person who gets little sleep during the week and plans to “catch up” on the weekends, then you are in for a rude awakening. Sleep doesn’t work that way–you need to get an even amount each day. If you don’t, you are at risk for brain damage.
7. You eat close to bedtime.
You should always allow at least 3 hours between the last time you eat and the time you go to sleep. If not, you might be at risk for indigestion and heart burn, which will keep you awake. You should also avoid spicy, fatty, and fried food before bed.
8. You let in blue light.
You’ve probably heard this one more often in the last few years than ever before, and that’s because our favorite types of technology create blue light, i.e. phones, laptops, and televisions. The blue light from these devices can go right through your eyelids (even as you are sleeping) and will disrupt your cycle. So when lights are off, so should be your devices.
9. Your mattress is old.
Spring mattresses are meant to last only up to 10 years (typically in the range of 5-10). If your mattress is starting to show wear–like with a body indent in the center–you need a new one. Otherwise, you’ll suffer the consequences, like shoulder, neck, and back pain.
10. Your PJs are synthetic.
Satin pajamas and sateen sheets feel smooth against your skin, but they actually keep your body heat in as well, which disrupts your sleep. Choose cotton, bamboo, or natural fiber materials in order to keep body temperature down and avoid being woken up in the middle of the night.
11. You have no blinds.
If your room doesn’t have something to block out light–either from street lamps and cars, or from an early-morning sunrise–you won’t be getting a deep sleep. Try blackout blinds on the windows, or wear a sleep mask to protect your eyes.
12. You don’t wash your feet.
This sounds strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense. If you spend the day walking around with sandals on or barefoot, all of the dirt you picked up will just end up at the bottom of your bed, which will make your sheets stink. Take a warm bath or shower before bed, and then you’ll clean them off, while simultaneously setting your body up with the perfect temperature to fall asleep faster.
[Featured Image: www.cosmopolitan.com]