7 Things to Avoid Before Bedtime
By Space Coast Daily // February 2, 2023
There are many things that can keep us awake at night, but it’s not always easy to identify the specific thing that is stopping you from sleeping.
Your trigger might be blue light, noise, natural light, indigestion, stimulants, pain, or anxiety. Once you know what’s causing the trouble, it’s much easier to address the issue. We’ll look at some of the common causes of disrupted sleep and provide some tips on how to tackle them.
Different electronic devices, such as computers, smartphones, and televisions, cast a blue light that tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime. This stops the body’s release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Avoid using anything that emits blue light up to an hour before bedtime, and turn your smartphone over to stop notifications from lighting up the screen.
There’s nothing worse than lying in bed listening to the sound of a party next door or a car alarm going off down the street. Some people even find the ticking of a clock irritating, and once you’ve heard the offending noise, you can’t stop hearing it. Thick curtains will help to muffle outside noise, and sleep aid apps are useful for creating a soothing distraction from internal noise.
Natural daylight during the long summer evenings or even street lights might keep you awake at night. You may be tempted to stay up later if it’s not dark by bedtime, but retiring at the same time every night helps to regulate your circadian rhythm. Turn off any lights and use blackout blinds or curtains to reduce the amount of light entering your room through the window.
Eating a heavy meal late in the evening could make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Your digestive muscles will be working hard to metabolise the food preventing you from reaching a night of deep and restful sleep. Furthermore, you might suffer from indigestion or acid reflux.
A 2020 study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that eating close to bedtime leads to more disruptive sleep, and nutritionists recommend eating your last meal at least three hours before retiring. If you have indulged a little late, try drinking a cup of peppermint or chamomile tea, as these can help to ease indigestion.
Stimulants like caffeine and alcohol are often to blame for keeping people awake. Caffeine, which is present in coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, stops us from producing melatonin, making it difficult to drift off.
Alcohol, on the other hand, may make us drowsy, but once it has been metabolised, glutamate is released, which excites our nervous system and disrupts sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening and opt for a fruit tea or water instead.
Any physical discomfort that causes pain, such as a sore back or aching joints, can keep you up at night. Try to alleviate any pain by using pillows to support your back or limbs, and take over-the-counter painkillers or medication as prescribed by your doctor.
Anxiety can cause your mind to race, making it difficult to get relaxed enough to sleep. The fatigue suffered the next day can then lead to more anxiety, exacerbating the situation. Self-care can help reduce feelings of anxiety, and techniques include exercise, rest, or talking to someone.
You can also practise meditation using the best meditation apps. If your anxiety persists, speak to your doctor, who can help put you in touch with a therapist.
If something is keeping you awake at night, the sooner you address it, the sooner you can get back to a healthy sleep routine. If you’re sensitive to light or noise, create a calm environment to sleep in. If food or drinks are disrupting your digestion, avoid them within three hours of going to bed.
If you are suffering from mental or physical discomfort, speak to your doctor.