Give up these habits to improve your sleep in 2021
Most of us could do with sleeping more and sleeping better. Statistics show that as many as 16 million UK adults suffer with sleep deprivation to some degree, and recent reports suggest that these numbers have only risen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But 2021 is a new year, and with each new year comes a fresh opportunity to change your sleep habits for the better. So if you’re still struggling to sleep well and wake up rested, here are some of the biggest sleep red flags that you should leave in 2020.
Keeping your phone next to your bed
Yes, you’ve heard this one before. But are you actually making the effort to reduce your screen time?! As we come to rely more and more on our smartphones for communication, entertainment and staying up-to-date, the temptation to keep scrolling right until your head hits the pillow (and often afterwards too) is only getting stronger.
Setting limits on your smartphone usage can significantly improve your sleep, so ignore this recommendation at your peril. Phone screens emit blue light which can supress the levels of melatonin in your body, a natural hormone responsible for controlling our sleep wake cycle. Not only that, but scrolling through the news or social media keeps your brain active and alert, which means falling asleep will probably take longer.
Set yourself a curfew where you put your phone aside at least an hour before you go to bed. Instead, try reading or meditation as a way to unwind.
Sleeping with the heating on
During these chilly times, it’s tempting to sleep with the central heating on to keep warm, but this will likely lead to an uncomfortable night of tossing and turning. In fact, last year researchers concluded that falling asleep with the heating on can cause our bodies to overheat significantly faster.
The ideal bedroom environment should be dark and slightly cool, to ensure that your body temperature doesn’t get too high.
Snacks before bed
A midnight snack might sound like a good idea at the time, but indulging in fatty foods right before bed can cause acid reflux, indigestion and disturbed sleep, as well as weight gain in the long run.
Ideally, you should avoid snacking in the hour or so before you go to bed, but if you do find yourself too peckish to sleep, some snacks are better than others.
Sleeping with the lights on
Whether due to phobias or simply personal preference, some people choose to sleep with a lamp or two still on. However, like heating, light can disrupt the quality and depth of your sleep. Exposure to light before or during bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep as it will disrupt your brain’s production of melatonin. A dark and quiet sleep environment is always best.
Try to get into the habit of gradually dimming your lights as bedtime approaches. Avoid using main lights late in the evening, and instead choose softer light sources to help your eyes and your brain relax.
Late night exercising
Working out is often hailed as a great way to regulate your energy levels, helping you feel rejuvenated during the day and sleepy at night. This is certainly true, but not if you do your exercising late in the evening.
Do your exercise a minimum of two hours before you go to bed to ensure you have plenty of time to relax and unwind. Otherwise, the simulation you receive from your workout could make falling asleep tougher.