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September 24, 2019

5 Bad Habits that lead to Sleepless Nights (& 5 Good Habits to do Instead).

You check your diary to see what you have on tomorrow, and a feeling of dread washes over you.

You have a busy day ahead, and you don’t know if you’ll get any sleep tonight.

The theme of today was walking around like a cast member of “The Walking Dead,” trying to avoid anything that takes up too much brainpower and anything that might trigger you in the slightest.

You can’t cope with another sleepless night.

You get into bed and begin to drift off, then jolt upright wondering if you left the oven off. You’d better check. You make your way downstairs and switch on the kitchen light. Of course, it’s off. You go back to bed.

You start to worry about not being able to drift off again, but you fall asleep peacefully and wake up feeling great! Yes, you got a good night’s sleep. Oh wait, why is it still dark?

It’s 1 a.m.

You lie there trying to go back to sleep, knowing that unless you do, you will feel like rubbish again tomorrow.

What if you mess up your presentation? What if you fall asleep just before your alarm goes off and sleep through it? What if you fall asleep during a meeting?

Ugh…it’s 3:30 a.m. now. You’ve had less than two hours of sleep. You are getting agitated lying there, so decide to pick up your phone and scroll Facebook for a bit, then get up, go and get some food, and then watch a bit of Netflix. Hopefully, you’ll get tired soon!

Your eyes start getting heavy. You look through the window, and your heart sinks as you see it’s getting light. Before you know it, the sound of that alarm pierces through your whole body and it’s time to get up.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. So many people struggle with insomnia, and it has a profound negative impact on health and well-being.

Here are some habits to break that will help you get a good night’s sleep:

1. Worrying about getting enough sleep.

Frustratingly, worrying about getting enough sleep is the very thing that’s most likely to keep you awake! Instead of focusing on not being able to sleep and how you might feel tomorrow, switch your focus onto enjoying your peaceful time, whether you fall asleep or not.

2. Checking the time.

This goes hand in hand with number one, but deserves its own point because checking the time and tracking how many hours of sleep you are likely to get will make the worrying 1o times worse. Set your alarm if you need to get up at a certain time, then hide it if you think you might get tempted to look.

3. Going on social media or Netflix.

A really common way to relax before bedtime and a great way to help insomnia to rear its ugly head. Here’s what happens when you watch “Breaking Bad” or scroll the Facebook newsfeed too close to bedtime: your circadian rhythm is delayed, the sleep hormone melatonin is not activated, and your alertness is activated when you want to be getting sleepy.

Give yourself a screen curfew and stick to it.

4. Deciding to do something productive to avoid wasting time.

“Hmm, well, it’s 2 a.m., I’m wide awake, I’m probably going to feel like a zombie tomorrow, so I might as well get up now and sort out the sock drawer!” Sock drawer arranging, online shopping, accounts, or anything else that puts you into productive mode will only mean you being awake for longer. Also, you’re rewarding your brain for keeping you awake by giving yourself the buzz of completing tasks, making it more likely to keep you up again the following night. Don’t be tempted!

5. Snacking.

Midnight snacks negatively affect our sleep. If you are hungry and need to eat, go for something light and plain with no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, meat, or cheese.

And here’s what to do instead of these bad habits:

1. Stick to a soothing bedtime routine.

A hot bath and relaxing with a good book, meditation, and light stretching are all things that I have put into my bedtime routine that help me to get a good night’s sleep.

What helps you to feel calm and relaxed? Dedicate the last two hours before you go to bed to do those things, and be consistent with it. You’ll be out like a light!

2. Get up at the same time every morning.

Yes, even on a Sunday! Your circadian rhythm needs a regular sleep pattern; it doesn’t know what day of the week it is and whether you are working that day or not. A key time when insomnia rears its ugly head is when regular sleep patterns have been disrupted.

3. Practice meditation.

Meditation helps you to quiet your mind and prepare for sleep. If you are new to meditating, I would recommend using guided meditations to begin with.

4. Drink a calming herbal tea before bed.

Replace caffeine and slow-digesting foods with chamomile or passion fruit tea, which will help you to wind down.

5. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something that will help you to relax!

If you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed stressing, but also take care not to overstimulate yourself! Get up and repeat your soothing bedtime routine again.

Follow these tips, and insomnia will soon be a thing of the past.

Comment below and let me know how you got on!

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author: Carol Parry

Image: @_minimalista

Editor: Kelsey Michal