Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, yet so many people treat it like a luxury, thinking they're just "not good sleepers" when they wake up tired and miserable.
This doesn't have to be the case! If you've tried the obvious strategies -- like "not drinking a redeye at 8pm" and "staying away from the last round of Fireball shots" -- you might be guilty of the following habits that prevent you from getting that beauty rest you so desperately need.
Keeping the thermostat too high
Dr. Aneesa Das, a sleep medicine expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that if your room is too warm, it can interfere with a good night of sleep: "We sleep better when our bodies cool down. While you don’t want to wake up shivering, you should keep the temperature as cool as you can for comfort."
Having a serious relationship talk right before bed
While spending some quality time with a partner in the evening is one thing, couples therapist Melody Li recommends that you avoid bringing up relationship issues that probably won't be solved before you fall asleep. It's also definitely not the best time to discuss sexual problems after a negative sexual experience. Bad sex + bad sleep = horrible mood. Probably for days, really. Not to say that you should ignore problems entirely, but starting a major chat right before bed is guaranteed to make you or your partner feel defensive, inadequate, or stressed out -- none of which contribute to good sleep.
Spending too much time in front of a screen
Banish smartphones, tablets, and even televisions from your bedroom. How will you watch Blue Velvet on your iPhone in bed?! It may seem like a huge drag, but the blue light from screens can invigorate your brain enough that your plans for an amazing night of sleep are pretty much destroyed. Dr. Ninotchka L. Sigua of IU Health Physicians Sleep Medicine, agrees. "Keep these screens out of the bedroom and stop using them at least one hour before bed for the best sleep."
Working in a dark office
Bright lights may not seem to be super important during the daily grind of your normal work day, Dr. Cathy Goldstein, a neurologist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, says they're vital to a good night of sleep. "The internal clock, or circadian rhythm, was made to handle natural light," she explains. "That means bright morning light is the signal to our brain that it's daytime and time to be alert. Darkness means that it's nighttime and time to sleep. Keep the lights up and, if you have a window, even better." If you have a weirdo boss who doesn't like turning the lights on, try to get outside whenever you can to get some natural sunlight during the day.
Keeping a messy bedroom
For a lot of people under the age of, oh, 48, the bedroom is nothing more than a place to dump clothes on the floor and pass out. But the sad reality is that you should avoid turning your bedroom into a trash heap, or a place where you shove crap that you don't know what to do with. "Make your bedroom a haven," says Dr. Goldstein. "I find a neat bedroom is key to allowing me to turn off my thoughts and wind down at night."
Sleeping in on weekends
What is the point of weekends if not to sleep in? It's tempting to disable your alarm and spend a few more hours dead to the world on the weekends, but Dr. Goldstein says this leads to "social jet lag" come Sunday night when we're trying to bed down at a reasonable hour but can't seem to fall asleep. That partially explains the Sunday blues, but it also will make your Monday less terrible than it usually is.