Sleep is the key to living a waking life rich in good health, well-being, and energy. However, according to The National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans report that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep impacts their waking life significantly, as much as one in every seven days.

Do you find it difficult to fall asleep at night? Are you stuck tossing and turning when you should be getting your much-needed rest? While lost rest can be attributed to a multitude of causes or stressors, you may just be practicing poor evening habits, without knowing it.

Here are seven evening habits that are making it difficult for you to get the quality sleep you need.
  1. Eating dinner too late. Late night dining does not make for quality rest. Why? Your body digests at its best when it is in an upright position- not when you are curled up in bed. Hitting the hay with a full stomach makes you seven times more likely to suffer from uncomfortable issues like heartburn or acid reflux. These conditions make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  2. Watching TV in bed or within the hours leading up to bed. Running marathons can be great for sleep. TV marathons before bed? Not so much. Netflix binge watching is a popular thing, and the availability of endless episodes of your favorite show really increases the temptation to stay up well past your bedtime. Beyond that, the blue light that is emitted from the television disrupts your body’s natural melatonin production. Meaning it is sending signals to your body that it is still daylight, making it harder for you to wind down and fall asleep when it’s time. You should avoid television for at least two hours before bedtime.
  3. Sleeping with your smartphone. Smartphones and tablets emit the same sleep disturbing blue light as televisions. However, that is not the only way they can disturb your sleep. If you are checking your Facebook or reading e-mails before bed, it could be overstimulating and/or stress inducing – which is obviously not good for falling asleep.
  4. Eating a late-night snack full of sugar. It may not seem like a big deal to snack on a couple of cookies late in the evening, but that refined sugar can, in fact, have a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep. Sugar crashes may make you feel ready for slumber, but too much sugar can also result in waking up in the middle of the night- resulting in groggy mornings.
  5. You drink caffeine too late in the day. Consuming caffeine after noon can have a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep at night. Its effects can last long after you had your last sip, so it is best to avoid any caffeine intake after lunch time.
  6. You perform vigorous exercise too close to bed. Exercise is good for you, and it is good for sleep, as long as it isn’t performed within three or four hours of bedtime. Vigorous exercise makes it difficult for your body to wind down at night. You can, however, perform calming exercises, like these yoga poses, to help you to fall asleep at night.
  7. You allow yourself to toss and turn. Staying in bed when you can’t fall asleep is counter-productive. In fact, it can result in an unhealthy association between stress and your bed. Instead of tossing and turning, try a relaxation exercise. If after 20 minutes you are not able to fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing away from your bedroom (avoid turning on too many lights and looking at a TV or your phone). Try going to bed again once you feel drowsy.

Sleeping troubles that occur frequently over the course of several months may be signaling an underlying sleep disorder or health issue. A sleep study done by a sleep expert can help you understand if your sleep troubles are being caused by something bigger than bad habits. Call Valley Sleep Center today to schedule your consultation at one of our five convenient Valley locations.