Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mood, your energy levels, and your overall health. It’s also dependent on what you do during the day—how much physical activity you get, what you eat and drink, and how mentally stimulated you are—especially in the hours before you crawl into bed.
“When people suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues, it’s often because of something they’re doing, probably unintentionally, when they should be preparing for rest,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, a psychiatry instructor and member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Oh, the power of a good night’s sleep. A whole gamut of benefits can come from getting enough rest, but for many of us, hitting the sack can be challenging. There’s plenty of advice out there about what to do to get to sleep — but what about what not to do?
Here are some pre-bedtime activities that could be hurting your chance at a good night’s sleep.
1. Watch TV or surf the web
Studies have shown that pre-slumber screen time can impede your body’s ability to fall asleep. The likely culprit? Well, the bright lights of these screens can hinder the development of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. So close that laptop and turn off that TV about an hour before bed.
You should try to keep your workout at least two hours away from the time you go to sleep if you want better chance of drifting off to the land of nod.
This doesn’t include restful exercise such as yoga or stretching.
Exercising in general does help with sleep patterns, but it’s better to do this earlier in the day.
3. Take a shower
If you shower after working out at night or you are simply in the habit of bathing before bed, there’s certainly nothing wrong with it; a hot bath may even help relax you and prime your body for sleep. But if you normally rinse off in the morning and you only switch it up occasionally, bathing at night could send the wrong message to your brain.
“Showers often wake people up, so it might not be the best thing to do before bed,” says Grandner. People with long hair should be careful not to go to bed with wet hair, either; not only can it be uncomfortable and cause knots and tangles, but it can also make sheets and pillows damp, which could cause mold to grow.