I hated naps as a kid. Whenever my nanny tried to get me to nod off after lunch, I’d pretend to be asleep until she left the room so I could keep playing with my paper dolls. (Of course, there were times when I actually did fall asleep from all the pretending. Oops.)
As an adult, though, I do miss having prescribed nap times. Getting the day’s work done properly, drinking enough water, maintaining friendships, and sneaking in a workout can really make even the best of us crave a few midday zzz’s.
Thankfully, going to sleep at night remains mandatory, or at least, expected of human beings at any age. Now, if only we could all drift off the moment our heads hit our pillows, but as my fellow night-owls and insomniacs know, that’s not exactly the case for everyone.
Like almost anything that has to do with wellness, cultivating good habits are key to consistently achieving a good night’s sleep. Then, there is the flip side of that, specifically what you SHOULDN’T do, so, today, we’ll be discussing five particular habits to break in the run-up to bedtime:
1. Going on a Netflix marathon or mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed.
We’re all guilty of this. In my case, I tend to fall through a rabbit hole of Buzzfeed articles before hitting the sack. (Though, in my defense, that helps me brainstorm topics for this blog, but I digress.)
If you can fall asleep anywhere, watching “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” or whatever romcom is currently trending on Netflix till your eyelids droop probably won’t do much harm. However, the light from your gadgets’ screens can trick your mind into doing the exact opposite of winding down, even if you activate the night mode option.
Feeling a little wound-up? Try doing something that doesn’t require a glowing screen, such as reading an actual book (as opposed to a Kindle or a tablet), practicing some yoga poses, or writing your thoughts down.
2. Doing some last-minute work.
We remote workers are especially susceptible to carrying out our tasks from the comfort of our warm, fluffy beds since a lot of us work from home. While convenient, this could wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns as your brain will begin to associate the bedroom with the sort of thinking, planning, and analyzing processes that work typically requires.
Keeping work out of your bedroom will help your brain continue associating it with sleep (which is really what it’s for), so try to set clear boundaries between work and sleep even if you do work at home.
3. Cuddle with your pets.
Sharing a bed with your shih tzu or goldfish (hey, whatever floats your boat) might be cute, but it’s neither hygienic nor conducive to a good night’s rest. If your pet is a particularly large and scrappy golden retriever, for instance, you’ll be disturbed every time they scratch, roll over, or engage in a tug-of-war with you over the covers.
Can’t bear to have your pets out of sight? Have them sleep on those cute little pet beds on the floor beside your bed instead.
4. Nosh on some midnight snacks.
There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of late-night snacking if you keep it light. A few slices of fruit or a handful of nuts is ideal, for instance, as is a warm glass of milk with a bit of honey. The latter has some naturally-occurring tryptophan that can aid mental relaxation and better sleep as a result.
Avoid high-fat food before bed as these can induce heartburn. The same goes for cookies, biscuits, or caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda; the sugar/caffeine hit will keep you up well past midnight.
5. Pick a fight.
There’s a good reason why you shouldn’t go to bed angry or at odds with your loved ones. Apart from the fact that you’re not likely to solve anything when you’re both tired and wound-up after a long day, it can also get in the way of your sleep, thus impairing your ability to think more clearly the following morning.
So, literally sleep on it. You can also move to a different room if it helps (i.e., if you can’t really stand to sleep in the same bed as your partner for the time being).
Humblebragging about how little sleep you’re getting has become something of a competitive sport. Being up to your eyeballs in work seems to be the trend now, even at the cost of one’s overall health, because it’s supposed to mean that you’re getting somewhere.
However, we need to remember that taking care of ourselves will never go out of style. You can’t exactly expect to perform at your best when your mind and body is much too exhausted to function at full capacity.
So, go ahead. Turn off your lights, put off that argument with your significant other, set your gadgets aside, and get some actual rest. Your inner child (and outer adult) will thank you for it.