As a mother of two tiny people, sleep is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Although I often worry that no matter what good habits I follow, I may never sleep again, it doesn't stop me from trying. Regardless of the reasons your slumber may be suffering, here are five important things to avoid in order to ensure a restful night of sleep.
1. A Busy Mind
Unwanted thoughts, anxiety, and worry are all top contributors to insomnia and restless sleep. To combat this, avoid working, watching television, paying bills, or writing your to-do list for the next day while in bed. Keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter — the last thing you want to do is to lay awake stressing about the giant pile of clothing littering the floor or the giant dust bunnies slowly taking over the room. If you must read in bed, avoid reading books for work — make sure you reserve the bed for pleasure reading only.
Anything that emits light, no matter how dim, has to go. Don't keep LED alarm clocks, your phone, or a night light right by your bed. Turn off the television and laptop at least one hour before hitting the hay, and use room darkening shades to block out any street lights or lights from your neighbor's house.
3. An Upset Stomach
Diet plays a big part in sleep. Here are a few key things to steer clear of in the hours immediately before bed:
- Eating or drinking caffeine
- Eating spicy foods
- Drinking alcohol
- Going to bed too full or too hungry
- Drinking too much liquid before bed
4. A Restless Body
An unhappy body can make it just as difficult to drift off into dreamland as a busy mind. Eschew anything that causes too much stimulation, discomfort, or irregularity, such as:
- Late evening exercise
- Strenuous cleaning right before bed (I, for one, am perfectly okay with this rule!)
- Cigarette smoking
- Uncomfortable temperatures
- Bad sleeping posture
- An irregular sleeping routine
- Suspenseful or thrilling television shows and movies (sorry Walking Dead fans — you may want to record it on your DVR and watch it a little earlier the following day!).
Make it a priority to recognize and then avoid or find a remedy for any of the recurring things that disrupt your sleep regularly. Pets or children in your bed (my three-year-old tends to lay horizontally and kick me in the face — probably not the best way to get a restful night's sleep), a snoring partner, a neighbor's barking dog, or a beeping cell phone are all things that can prevent you from entering into the deep sleep that your body needs to feel truly rested.
What do you avoid to ensure that you get a good night's sleep? We'd love to hear your tips and tricks!