By Eric Stengle
While the exact benefits sleep has on the mind and body are still being investigated, scientists do know that sleep is when the body restores and repairs itself. Getting the right amount of sleep every night helps you function your best during the day and can prevent health problems. But some of you might unintentionally be doing things that are negatively impacting your ability to sleep well at night. Here are 3 bad sleep habits you might not know about.
- Prolonged exposure to artificial light. Extended exposure to artificial light can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your natural sleep cycle. Low melatonin levels can lead to symptoms of insomnia, such as having trouble falling asleep, or waking up frequently during the night. To offset sleeping problems from exposure to artificial light, try and get sunlight every day, preferably within 2 hours of waking up. Turn off bright indoor lights at least two hours before going to bed.
- Sleeping with contact lenses. When you are exhausted after a long day, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to take out your contact lenses before going to bed. Even though some contact lenses are approved for sleep, it is never a good idea to sleep with them in. Sleeping while wearing your contacts, even during a short nap, can make you six to eight times more likely to develop an eye infection. These infections, known as microbial keratitis, are caused by bacteria infecting the eye’s cornea. Teenagers and young adults are most at risk for falling asleep with their contacts on.
- Not winding down before bedtime. As bedtime approaches and you begin feeling tired, your body temperature starts to drop, and brain activity begins to slow down. It is important to help prepare your mind and body for sleep. So, stop your more stressful activities of the day well before bedtime, and do something more calming. Here are some relaxing things you can do as part of a regular wind-down routine at least an hour before bedtime.
- Take a warm bath. Soaking in a tub of warm water will help rejuvenate sore muscles and relax your entire body. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, or bubble bath. Light candles and practice deep, relaxed breathing for the most calming experience. The reason taking a warm bath at night can help you sleep better is because the warm water causes an increase in blood flow from your core to your skin. This flow of blood results in a drop in body temperature, which is part of your body’s natural circadian rhythm process.
- Do some stretching and breathing exercises. After getting out of the bathtub, gentle stretches and yoga postures will ease muscle tension and promote relaxation. As your body cools down, you can also try some controlled breathing techniques that reduce stress and lower blood pressure. These breathing exercises are an excellent way to help your mind calm down in preparation for sleep, and they are effective in lowering levels of anxiety.
- Put off your worries. Ruminating about your worries and concerns before bed will keep you mind alert and prevent you from falling asleep. Make a conscious decision at least an hour before bedtime to put off thinking about anything troublesome. Try focusing on pleasant things. If you can’t stop ruminating, you can write down your worries on a piece of paper. This will help take these concerns out of your mind and allow you to revisit them later.
If you are having difficulty getting proper sleep on a regular basis, or if you think that you might have a sleep disorder, you should get a sleep study done from a sleep professional. Family Sleep Diagnostics was founded in 2006 in Hurst, TX. Our experienced sleep experts can give you a thorough consultation and treatment plan to help get your sleep back on track quickly. Just schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (972) 714-0011