Take a look at these sleep habits to find out whether you’re making these major mistakes, and learn how to fix them:
1. You swear by your sleep tracker
“You don’t need a health tracker to find out if you’ve had a good night sleep,” says Matt Leve, physical therapist at Shift Integrative Medicine in New York City. You know that feeling you get when you wake up on vacation? It’s called refreshed, and it’s how you should feel every. Single. Day.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends adults get about seven to nine hours of quality nightly sleep for optimal health, productivity, and daytime alertness. Even if your tracker says you’ve slept enough, if you generally wake up groggy, absolutely require caffeine to function, or doze off throughout the day, you’re not getting adequate sleep.
2. You only use your pillows for your head
If you sleep on your back, wedge one under your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Or if you sleep on your side, wedge a pillow underneath your top armpit to support your arm and one between your legs to keep your spine aligned.
3. You sleep on your stomach
Sleeping face down can cause some obvious issues — like not being able to breathe. Because you need to turn your head to one side to get air in and out, you inherently twist your spine. Over time, this can cause neck and back pain, says Ilene Rosen, M.D., an associate professor of clinical medicine for the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia and member of the board of directors for the AASM.
To straighten your spine, bend the elbow and knee on the side you typically turn your head toward, and wedge a pillow underneath that armpit and hip. If you tend to kick the pillows and wake up flat on your stomach, tape a tennis ball to the front of your pyjama shirt to teach your sleeping self not to roll. And if you really can’t sleep in a modified position? Wedge a thin pillow under your abdomen to take pressure off your back.
4. You booze it up before bedtime
While drinking at night can help you doze off at first, it can also cause you to wake up throughout the night, which will ultimately interfere with the quality of your sleep, according to a comprehensive review of existing research that was published last year. The more you drink, the worse you’re going to sleep. If you plan to throw back more than a few stiff ones, start early and slow down toward the end of the night.