Poor Sleep Habits? How to Sleep Smarter

sleep habits

Are you regretting all the naps you refused as a child? You’re not alone. If waking up is hard to do or you’re dragging through the day, it’s time to improve your sleep habits. Philip Landis, MD, Renown specialist in internal medicine, shares timely suggestions on how to sleep smart.

Sleep Habits Are Lifestyle Habits

Nothing’s better than the rested feeling you have after a good night’s sleep.  But if you have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or if you’re still tired the next morning, your overall health suffers. In fact, The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states poor sleep habits and losing sleep make you more likely to get a cold or the flu.

While the common solution is to get more sleep, it isn’t always so simple. In fact, the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. For example, some people need 9 hours of sleep, while others are well-rested with much less.

So how can you improve your sleep habits? First, it’s important to know (and avoid) the 7 sleep stealers below.

7 Sleep Stealers

  1. Snoring.

    Sure it bothers your partner, but it also affects your sleep. Snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Namely this is a leading sleep disorder which also causes daytime sleepiness. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious health concern increasing your chance of heart attack, stroke and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). If you snore or wake up gasping for breath, contact your doctor for further follow-up,” urges Dr. Landis.

  2. Nightly bathroom trips.

    Not only do they interrupt your sleep cycle, but they can also point to a serious health issue. In particular an infection (urinary tract) or prostate enlargement (in older men). Occasional bathroom breaks are normal, but consistent trips could be a sign of trouble. “Frequent urination should be brought to the attention of a medical professional for evaluation and treatment. Meanwhile try lowering your fluids in the evening, avoiding a full bladder at night,” suggests Dr. Landis. 

  3. Alcohol.

    Of course, you may look forward to an evening glass of wine, but it may be the reason you’re not sleeping. Although it can make you feel drowsy at first, it significantly blocks REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. And REM is considered the most restorative sleep stage. If you’re in need of restful sleep, skip or minimize your alcohol intake before bedtime.

  4. Stimulants.

    In our busy, on-the-go world, we grab coffee and spend a lot of time on devices. For restful sleep habits, there’s no room for either of these. It’s best to avoid all screens before bed including: television, computer screens and e-readers. In reality, they can make you feel more awake. As for your coffee runs, it’s suggested to stop drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime.

  5. Lack of exercise.

    According to a survey by the NSF, regular exercisers sleep better. In essence, overall daily activity matters, no matter the time of day. Not only does exercise improve your sleep, it has skin, brain and mood benefits too!

You can increase your activity by:

  • Going for a brisk, 20-minute walk in the evenings.
  • Taking the stairs.
  • Increasing the pace of household chores such as vacuuming or yard work.

Related: Before You Go: Try These Warm-Up Exercises for Cardio

  1. Napping.

    While an afternoon catnap might perk you up, it might affect your ability to fall (or stay) asleep at night. Tired during the day? Then try skipping your usual nap. Take a walk or run errands instead. If you must nap, limit it to no more than 30 minutes.

  2. Menopause.

    If you feel hot and sweaty while sleeping, you may be having a hot flash. Although they may not be strong enough to wake you, they are still preventing restful sleep. Not all hot flashes require hormonal therapy treatment.To prevent them, avoid triggers such as: alcohol, caffeine, smoking, spicy foods and stress. Certainly keeping your bedroom cool, wearing light layers to bed and regular exercise also helps.

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  1. I found ; after having my Heart Attack ; starting an exercise program not only helped my sleeping , it also helps in my stamina for doing MORE throughout the day , which in itself helps me get a more Powerful/Restful Sleep at night. Yet , with that being said , due to an extensive Neck Surgery , I have some Very Problematic issues for working out; I can only do a certain amount and certain things when I exercise. So Please Be Careful & Stay In Constant Contact With Your Inner Voice & YOUR DOCTOR !!!
  2. Completely agree with #5. I find exercising really helps with sleep. The harder I work out, the better I sleep!