Always tired? Discover 14 things to avoid before bed for a better night’s rest. Yes, phone screens are on the list! Read more for tips.

The house feels too quiet. Did I lock the front door? I forgot to answer that email, again. If I fall asleep now, I’ll only get six hours of sleep. Why can’t I drift off? Do I need to use the bathroom? My back is aching too. I could just look at my phone until I’m sleepy. If I fall asleep now, I can still get five and a half hours of rest…

It’s easy to get caught in an anxious loop when you can’t sleep. Your mind races through worries, regrets, discomforts. You calculate how little sleep you’ll get. You debate browsing your phone, though the blue light will make things worse. The cycle continues.

But taking some deep breaths and focusing on the present moment can interrupt the worries. Comfort your aching back with a pillow. Jot down tomorrow’s to-do’s to get them off your mind. Remind yourself that a few lost hours won’t ruin everything. Set a serene scene by picturing somewhere peaceful. Relax each muscle group from head to toe. Sleep will come when your mind quiets.

Do these thoughts sound familiar? If you’re one of the many people who struggle with insomnia, then you’ve probably experienced racing, random thoughts preventing you from sleeping.

About 1 in 3 adults deal with insomnia, along with over half of pregnant women and up to 88% of COVID-positive individuals. The inability to quiet your mind and fall asleep is frustratingly common.

When insomnia strikes, your mind can start spiraling. You begin to ruminate on regrets, make to-do lists, worry about getting enough rest. Trying to force sleep makes the anxiety worse.

Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this battle. Millions grapple with an overactive mind at bedtime. The key is being patient with yourself and finding techniques that calm your thoughts and unwind. This may include meditation, gentle yoga, sipping chamomile tea, or writing in a journal.

With some trial and error, you can discover reliable rituals to ease into slumber. Don’t become discouraged. Your mind just needs help settling down. By identifying triggers and relieving mental pressure, peaceful sleep will come.

Insomnia Can Stem From Common Habits

Insomnia makes it hard to fall or stay asleep. This sleep deficiency impairs mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety. Yet it’s common – about a third of adults get less than the recommended 7-9 nightly hours.

Insomnia comes in different forms. Onset insomnia prevents relaxing at bedtime. Maintenance insomnia causes middle-of-the-night waking. Both disrupt rest.

Many daily habits actually worsen insomnia. To improve sleep, it helps to identify and change these patterns.

I spoke to experts about habits to avoid for better sleep. Their advice truly opened my eyes. Small tweaks can make a big difference in unwinding both your mind and body.

With some adjustments, you can troubleshoot what’s interfering with quality shut-eye. Don’t lose hope. You can retrain your body and mind for peaceful slumber through mindfulness. Better rest awaits by breaking detrimental cycles.

1. How Screens Disrupt Sleep

Staring at phones, tablets, and TVs before bed suppresses melatonin – our sleep hormone. The blue light emitted keeps the brain stimulated and delays drowsiness.

“Blue light hampers circadian rhythms and prevents quality sleep,” explains Dr. Sasha Hamdani, psychiatrist. “It increases alert brainwave activity when we need to unwind.”

Using night modes may not solve the problem. Screens keep the brain active through emotional engagement and dopamine hits from exciting content. An active brain struggles to power down.

Limit screen time as part of your wind-down routine. Read a book, listen to music, or try a hobby instead. Keep devices out of reach once in bed. The less stimulation your brain gets, the easier it is to transition into sleep.

With screens darkened, you can properly prepare both mind and body for rest. Avoid the dopamine trap of endlessly scrolling. Prioritize relaxation and your sleep quality will reflect this.

2. How TV Disrupts Our Sleep Rhythms

Having the television on when trying to sleep is more stimulating than relaxing. Passive viewing or background noise keeps the mind engaged longer than intended.

“The constant chatter and loud sounds prevent settling into sleep,” explains Jennifer Weber, director of behavioral health for PM Pediatrics. “We get pulled into finishing episodes and lose track of time.”

The light, noise and mental focus of TV viewing runs counter to our body’s sleep cues. To improve rest, remove screens from the bedroom entirely. Their distraction leads to later bedtimes and less REM sleep.

Reserve bed for rest alone. Read a book, listen to calm music or meditate to unwind instead. With the bedroom a screen-free zone, your body can move through natural sleep stages without disruption.

Turn off TV to gain quality, restorative rest on your body’s schedule. Follow your own internal signals for sleepiness rather than television’s programming.

3. How Social Interaction Disrupts Sleep

Chatting with friends is fun but not ideal before bed, says sleep expert Li Aslund. Social interaction cues our bodies to stay alert when we need to unwind. Limiting social time enables relaxation.

Social media can also stimulate negative thought spirals, explains Jennifer Weber. Comparing ourselves online breeds self-doubt, jealousy and sadness. These ruminating thoughts make it tough to power down.

Instead, make pre-bed time just for you. Read, take a bath, listen to calm music. Save socializing for morning. Nighttime is for solo reflection so your mind shifts into sleep mode. Minimize interactions and make space for rest.

Prioritizing personal relaxation over stimulation is key. Social connections are vital but have their place – after a good night’s sleep! Boundaries ensure you make time to recharge. With less evening interaction, your body can naturally transition into sleepy bliss.

4. Keep Work Out of the Bedroom for Better Sleep

Though working from home is common now, avoid doing work in bed, advises Danielle Roeske. Separating work and sleep spaces is crucial.

When our workspace is also our sleep space, it’s tougher to concentrate, harming productivity. Our brains get conflicting signals trying to be alert yet rest in the same place.

Even a quick work email before bed can disrupt sleep associations, says Li Aslund. Using your bed for work reduces its link to rest in the brain. This makes it harder to wind down and stay asleep.

Instead, create distinct areas for work and sleep – even within a studio apartment. Save your bed for rest alone. Your brain learns when the bedroom means it’s time to relax into slumber.

By keeping strict work/sleep boundaries, you teach your mind and body healthy habits. When not entangled, both work and sleep can thrive. Professional success starts with quality rest.

5. How Thrilling Books Disrupt Restful Sleep

Reading helps relaxation – except thrillers, which stoke adrenaline, says counselor Joanne Frederick. Their suspense spikes cortisol, the stress hormone. This excitement may be fun before bed but impedes rest later.

Violent, scary content also lingers in our subconscious as we sleep. It can spark unsettling dreams and anxiety upon waking. This interrupts sleep cycles throughout the night.

Instead I suggest reading light, happy stories to relax muscles and mind. Try fairy tales – their soothing imagery brings pleasant thoughts. This eases the transition into slumber without disruption from darkness.

Save intense thrillers for daytime. At night your body needs to unwind, so choose materials thoughtfully. Peaceful sleep awaits when you engage the senses with calming words. Reading invites relaxation if the content allows your system to power down.

6. How Evening Eating Affects Sleep

Eating a heavy dinner right before bed makes sleep difficult, says counselor Joanne Frederick. Our bodies need time to properly digest while upright and active. However, going to bed hungry also disrupts rest.

To find balance, I suggest a small, light snack near bedtime if needed for comfort. This aids sleep without overburdening digestion.

Throughout the day, focus on fiber and limit saturated fats and sugar, advises psychologist Dan Ford. Fiber boosts deep slow wave sleep. But saturated fats and sugar decrease deep sleep by spiking cortisol – our alertness hormone.

Aim to finish dinner 2-3 hours before bed. Choose complex carbs, protein and veggies. A soothing tea or melatonin supplement can curb nighttime cravings. Listen to your body’s signals for optimal timing and nutrients.

With attention to meal content and timing, you can enhance sleep quality. Proper nighttime digestion contributes to deeper, uninterrupted slumber.

7. How Evening Exercise Disrupts Rhythms

Exercising earlier in the day deeply benefits sleep, says Danielle Roeske. It increases rejuvenating slow wave sleep and stabilizes mood. But working out too near bedtime has downsides.

Late physical exertion pumps up endorphins and leaves you feeling wired, not relaxed. An alert, restless mind struggles to unwind into sleep.

Aim to finish moderate exercise at least 2-3 hours before bed – earlier for intense workouts. This allows time for your body to calm down. Transition from an elevated heart rate to activities that soothe.

To promote quality rest, exercise in the morning or afternoon instead. At night, try light yoga, stretching, or meditation. Move your body purposefully throughout the day for optimal energy regulation.

With physical activity thoughtfully timed, exercise will enhance instead of disrupt your sleep patterns. You’ll drift off more easily as your body moves from alert to relaxed.

8. Why Alcohol Disrupts Restful Sleep

Many mistakenly rely on alcohol as a sleep aid, but it actually worsens rest, explains Nathan Brandon. While alcohol initially induces drowsiness by depressing the central nervous system, it disturbs deep, quality sleep later on.

Alcohol also increases nighttime bathroom trips, interrupting sleep cycles, as Joanne Frederick notes. Frequent waking prevents entering and remaining in deep slumber.

Instead of nightcaps, I suggest relaxing routines like reading, warm baths, or stretching. Calming activities clear an uncluttered path to sleep better than self-medication. Set an alarm to unwind electronic use before bed.

For more restorative sleep, avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Hydrate well earlier in the day and limit liquids before bed to prevent awakenings. You’ll find natural habits that lull both mind and body into tranquil darkness.

9. How Caffeine Disrupts Sleep Cycles

Caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy sodas are well-known sleep disruptors. Their stimulating effects prevent the body from unwinding into rest.

Sleep psychologist Katherine Hall suggests avoiding all caffeine at least 6 hours before your target bedtime. I recommend cutting off coffee and tea even earlier, around mid-afternoon.

If you crave a warm evening drink, try decaf or herbal tea instead. Their comfort and routine can satisfy without the jolt of caffeine. Limit all stimulating substances as part of your wind-down rituals.

Caffeine’s energy boost lingers in the body for hours. Consuming it too late keeps you revved when you need to power down. Be aware of caffeine amounts and your own sensitivity.

With some adjustments, you can enjoy your coffee fix without sacrificing needed sleep. Just save that mug for morning fuel when an alert mind serves you best.

10. How Sunlight Supports Healthy Sleep/Wake Rhythms

Working indoors all day deprives us of vital daylight. Combat this by spending time outside daily, advises sleep coach Katherine Hall. Natural sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles.

Light is the most influential cue for our internal body clock, explains Li Aslund. Morning sunlight signals our brains to be alert. Evening light winds us down for bed. Balancing light exposure supports sleep.

If you lack sunlight, try a 30-minute outdoor stroll in mornings. Open blinds at home and sit near windows. Bright light boxes can simulate sunshine as well. Just avoid screens before bed – their blue light disrupts rhythms.

With thoughtful sunlight exposure, you can harness this powerful sleep tool. Natural light keeps your internal clock running on time so you drift off and awake easier.

11. How Inconsistent Sleep Times Disrupt Rest

Fluctuating sleep and wake times confuse our bodies’ rhythms. “Stick to consistent waking times, even when tired,” advises Dr. Sasha Hamdani. “This regulates normal sleep cycles.”

Avoid long naps too. While tempting, they make it tougher to fall asleep on schedule. Tracking habits reveals your patterns and ideal schedule.

“Improving sleep is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Li Aslund. Allow time to evaluate changes. Gradually shape your routine toward consistency.

Set a soothing bedtime ritual. Dim lights and disconnect before bed every night. Wake at the same time, drawing back curtains to signal morning. Keep weekends on schedule too.

With practice, you can set your internal clock. Consistent cues tell your body when to be alert or relaxed. Align habits with your natural rhythms. Your mind and body will thank you through restful nights.

12. How Wind-Down Rituals Invite Sleep

I highly suggest scheduling an extended pre-bed wind-down period, advises sleep psychologist Dan Ford. This buffer zone lasts 30-60 minutes and focuses on self-care activities.

A relaxing shower, gentle yoga, mindfulness meditation, journaling, muscle relaxation exercises or reading fiction are all great options. Find what personally eases your transition into sleep.

Dimming lights signals your brain it’s time for bed. Disconnecting from electronics reduces mental stimulation. Calming music or aromatherapy enhance the effect.

With a consistent ritual, your body starts releasing melatonin right on schedule. Racing thoughts settle as you disengage. The bedroom becomes a cue for sleep onset.

Make time for yourself to decompress each evening. If needed, turn off devices earlier to preserve this space. Pleasant rituals ensure you fall asleep swiftly and wake refreshed.

13. Why Your Bedroom Setup Matters

Your sleep sanctuary should feel peaceful and optimized for rest, advises Katherine Hall. A calming, tidy bedroom eases the transition into slumber.

“Decluttering helps relaxation and sleep onset,” explains Li Aslund. Preparing this space as part of your wind-down routine signals your body it’s time for bed.

Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains and a white noise machine if needed. Choose breathable bedding and de-clutter surfaces.

Also limit your bedroom to just sleep and intimacy. Working or watching TV there weakens its sleep association. Reserve the bed for rest alone.

Small tweaks make a big difference in how your surroundings affect sleep quality. Prioritize a bedroom that nurtures your body’s need for tranquil darkness. Let your nest become a sleep haven.

14. How Rumination Disrupts Needed Rest

Trouble shutting off your inner monologue? Anxiously rehashing the day or worrying about tomorrow steals precious rest.

“Bedtime alone with thoughts often spirals into unease,” explains counselor Joanne Frederick. We mentally churn over work, finances, relationships – Prevent this by writing a bedtime brain dump.

Jot down to-do’s and concerns on paper before bed. This releases them from your mind so you can let go. Trying to solve problems while lying down compounds stress. Capture it elsewhere.

Distract yourself further by listening to soothing music or a sleep meditation. Focus on your breathing, not your thoughts. Visualize somewhere peaceful.

Give those racing thoughts an outlet before bed. Don’t invite them under the covers too. Your mind needs a blank slate for restful sleep. Quiet inner chatter through writing. Then make space for silence.

Seeking Help for Ongoing Sleep Problems

Changing habits doesn’t always resolve sleep troubles. Some people have undiagnosed disorders, explains psychologist Dan Ford.

Delayed sleep phase disorder, for example, prevents natural evening drowsiness. Sufferers stay up late without feeling tired. They may blame “procrastination” but a misaligned body clock underlies the issue.

If improving your sleep hygiene still leaves you fatigued, consult a sleep specialist. A professional assessment can identify underlying conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or insomnia.

Don’t assume poor sleep is your fault or something you must live with. Disorders are treatable through tailored therapies, medication or devices. Prioritize your rest by seeking qualified care.

Refreshing slumber provides incredible health benefits. Take action if you regularly struggle with sleep. Help awaits from compassionate experts dedicated to your wellbeing. Consistent quality sleep is within your reach through targeted support.

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