Sleep deprivation is an issue which affects people across the world. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, sleep appears unattainable. Naturally we look to external factors such as our partner’s snoring to justify our sleeplessness. However, it’s possible that we ourselves are the main culprit. If you have committed any of the common sleep mistakes below, chances are you’ve been single-handedly preventing yourself from that night’s sleep you’ve been so desperately craving.
Spending time on electronics
Usually, when we find ourselves struggling to sleep, we turn to electronics such as our TV screens for solace. However, this practice appears to be counter-intuitive and can actually force us to stay awake longer instead of falling asleep. In fact, according to the Daily Mail, ‘people spend an average of 8 hours 21 minutes sleeping a day- but spend an average of 8 hours 41 minutes on media devices’. This statistic, although initially shocking, is unsurprising when you consider how our electronic devices influence our ability to sleep: the light emanating from our screens tricking the brain into thinking that it’s daytime and, therefore, preventing it from releasing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
To tackle this problem head-on, it’s time to turn off our electronic devices and seek other forms of sleep-inducing activity, such as reading.
Sleeping in at weekends
If you’re planning a lie in this weekend, it may be time to reconsider. Contrary to popular opinion, trying to pay off your sleep debt by sleeping in at weekends can actually do more harm than good: throwing your biological clock out of kilter thereby making it harder for you to get up in the morning and fall asleep at night.
To avoid altering your natural circadian rhythm, try to steer clear of the false friend: long lie-ins. Instead, if you do want a little extra time in bed, limit this to just an hour.
Napping in the day
Although you may think that getting any sleep whenever and wherever you can is a good thing, napping during the day can actually negatively affect your ability to sleep in the evening.
To combat this and ensure you’re feeling tired in the evening, avoid the temptation to nap.
Underestimating how important sleep is
How much sleep we need varies from person to person. However, in general it is recommended that adults have an average of 8 hours of sleep per night to avoid accumulating a sleep debt. Despite this advice, the Great British Bedtime Report shows that a startling 70% of us are having fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night. This means that thousands of people across the UK are missing out on the multiple benefits associated with sleep such as encouraged healing, faster metabolism, improved memory and lowered stress.
To gain the most from your sleep, aim to have a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night.
Relying on sleeping pills
The dangers of sleeping pills are considerable and taking them as a ‘quick fix’ for sleeping is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Each year, millions of people turn to sleeping drugs to help them sleep, seemingly unaware of their addictive nature and side effects.
Instead of relying on a prescription to help you sleep better, consider investing some time in to natural sleep aids.
Relying on coffee and other caffeinated drinks to keep you awake throughout the day
Caffeinated drinks are renowned for their ability to make us feel alert. Although this may be great during the day when work is particularly demanding, at night, the last thing you want to feel is alert and wide awake.
To rectify this sleep mistake, stay away from the coffee pot and put that glass of coke down. Instead, opt for one of these caffeine-free hot drinks.
Eating large, protein-rich meals for dinner
There’s a reason why we’re told that breakfast should be the largest meal of the day and that reason is digestion. If you opt for a large or particularly protein-rich meal in the evening, your gut will struggle to metabolise this food by the time you want to go to bed.
To ensure that your body has ample time to digest your food and prepare for bed, consider eating earlier or cutting down your portion size.
Sleeping with a pet
Despite their fluffiness and good-nature, new research has found that sharing a bed with man’s best friend is costing you sleep, with 63% of people suffering on a nightly basis.
To increase your chances of a good night’s sleep, put Fido to sleep in the living room not the bedroom.