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It’s one thing to make sleep a priority and another to actually achieve those blissful seven to nine hours of unadulterated shut-eye.
Your ability to fall asleep at a reasonable time, stay asleep and wake up feeling well-rested the following morning depends on the steps you take hours before your head hits the pillow. And many of them go beyond basic sleep hygiene and focus more on daily habits that are surprisingly easy to address.
Struggling with sleep despite your best efforts? These nine behaviors might be to blame if they’re a part of your average evening after nine pm. (Post continues after gallery.)
1. You’re eating the occasional huge dinner.
Inconsistency when it comes to evening mealtime can wreak havoc on your sleep. It’s okay to eat an early or late dinner so long as you aim for around the same time every night. As for quantity, sticking with bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners has been shown to stabilise blood sugar, while big meals that include more fatty foods, delicious as they may be, take longer to digest and keep the body awake.
2. You’re checking your work email.
Once you’re finally home from work and preparing to unwind, the last thing you should do is reach for your smartphone to check and see if your boss sent you an urgent, “REPLY ASAP” email. If it’s really that urgent, they’ll call. Otherwise, take a deep breath and meditate on the fact that any residual work from today can, in fact, wait until tomorrow. The evening is time set aside for you.
A recent study found that even push notifications are just as distracting as actively seeking out your messages, so go ahead and silence your phone, too, so you can focus on your down time.
3. You’re ordering a few more cocktails.
That attempt to relax from a stressful day is actually preventing you from sleeping soundly later. While a cocktail or two may seem to make you feel sleepy and help you drift off faster, the quality of your sleep suffers and you often wake up feeling the consequences the following morning. If you’re going to indulge, drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume, and close that tab three hours before you plan to call it night.
4. You're bickering with a loved one.
It's cliché because it's true! Going to bed angry doesn't offer much in the way of sound sleep, especially if you have Type A tendencies. Overthinkers struggle with letting go of stressful thoughts at all times of the day, but in the evening, that ruminating can keep you mentally alert when your body is physically sending you "time for bed" signals.
It's often best to address the things that are irritating you and then work together with the other person to let them go. It'll make your personal relationships stronger and your morning mood sweeter.