Everyone knows how important good sleep is, but despite shooting for our eight hours every night, many of us still fall short of the mark. If you’ve tried hard to fix your sleep habits but Mr. Sandman still doesn’t seem to come when he should, it’s possible you’re disrupting your sleep with one of these five habits. Read on to learn why they keep you awake, and what you can do to fix them.
1. Hormonal Changes
Okay, so this isn’t so much a “little way” as a big way your sleep gets disrupted. If you’re pregnant or nursing, unfortunately your hormones are just in flux and you may not be able to do much about it. If you’re going through menopause or other hormonal shifts, though, you should talk to a physician or herbalist about regulating them in a safe way.
2. Your E-Reader
Studies show that the light from Kindles and iPads keeps us awake, so when possible, you should read from a real book before bed in the evening. This will shorten the amount of time between “closing” the book and actually dropping off to dreamland, and maximize your time spent asleep at night.
3. Open Loops
The concept of “open loops” is simple: When your mind is working on something, you’ve got an open loop. A project that’s still going, a permission slip that isn’t signed, a basket of laundry that needs folding. Each unfinished task keeps your mind buzzing and hampers your sleep.
You can do much to relax and achieve mental clarity by closing loops. Of course, you can’t possibly finish all the projects and all the chores every night. You can, however, trick your body into thinking there are fewer open loops by maintaining an uncluttered environment. While getting down to inbox zero and filing papers helps, focus on the bedroom by picking up clothes, removing documents or books related to work, and clearing away other reminders of your waking life. An uncluttered space leads to an uncluttered mind.
4. That Extra Glass
Although an extra glass of wine in the evening may initially help you find sleep, it can disrupt it later in the night. Alcohol eventually metabolizes in your bloodstream as sugar, and as you probably know from your experiences with Snickers bars and cake, sugar amps you up. Whenever possible, skip the second drink.
5. Tiny Lights
You know the pulsing light of your Macbook, the one that’s designed to look like a comforting little heartbeat? Well, it’s not doing you any favors sleep-wise. Sure, you probably sleep with the lights off and the shades drawn (and hopefully the television off), but how careful are you about other lights in your environment? Tiny lights from alarm clocks, power cords and outlets can also ruin sleep, so cover them or get them out of there.
I don’t want to claim that if you do these things, you’ll immediately start getting eight restful hours of sleep every night. However, these steps – in combination with improving your bedtime routine and turning out the light early enough – are guaranteed to help.