If you want to improve your overall health, the first place to start is improving your sleep. Well known sleep destroyers are things like keeping an erratic bedtime or drinking caffeine too late. Less well-known culprits are things like alcohol and late-night snacks. But there are other habits many of us engage in without realizing they are ruining our sleep.
3 habits That can destroy your sleep
Not enough fiber or too much sugar
Plenty of research indicates that lack of sleep increases the likelihood of consuming too many calories therefore gaining weight and potentially leading to obesity. However, until recently less was known about how these eating habits can affect getting enough sleep. But a 2016 study by Columbia University revealed new information on the relationship between what we eat and how well we sleep.
The study revealed that eating less fiber and more saturated fat was associated with more interrupted and less restorative sleep.
Takeaway: just because you’re getting seven or eight hours of sleep doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good sleep. If you regularly get 7-8 hours of sleep but don’t wake up feeling refreshed, take a look at your nutritional habits.
Ending the night With a Drink
Enjoying a cocktail at the end of a long day before you go to bed might help you relax, feel drowsy and doze off faster. However it will also result in poor sleep quality.
A 2015 study of young adults showed alcohol disrupted slow wave sleep (SWS), a pattern of brain activity that is associated with deep, restorative sleep. Additionally, alcohol also increases frontal alpha power, which is a pattern of brain activity that is usually associated with resting quietly while awake. The combination of these types of brain activity will interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Even more, having a cocktail in the evening can sabotage your sleep in other ways. Alcohol can throw your whole sleep regulation mechanism out of balance. It relaxes the muscles in the throat which can worsen breathing problems during sleep. Additionally, it also is a diuretic which one prompt more trips to the bathroom during the middle of the night.
Checking social media too often
We all know this isn’t good, yet many of us do it anyway. But did you know that it can interfere with your sleep and the quality of your sleep? A study in 2016 on young adults revealed that those who checked social media most often (58 or more times in a week) were over three times as likely to have sleep problems than those who check social media 8 or fewer times.
Clearly it’s difficult to determine the direct correlation but researchers suggested a few possibilities. One is as simple as if you’re on social media you’re not sleeping. A second thought is when people get caught up in heated Facebook or Twitter wars, they’re way more likely to get emotionally aroused making it much more difficult to calm down and fall asleep. The third and most obvious is the blue light emitted from screens triggers hormones in the brain that promote wakefulness – not drowsiness.
Life is short. Without adequate restorative sleep it can be even shorter. It will also feel miserable. If you’re struggling to get good sleep because of stress, anxiety, depression or anything else, consider your sleep habits and look at ways you can improve. If you still can’t get some good shut-eye, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to get you improve your quality of life.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.