Achieving the recommended eight hours of rest can seem like a constant uphill battle. While we may have the best of intentions, there’s a slew of common mistakes can creep into your evening routine that may be having detrimental effects on your sleep health.
We spoke to a Sleep Expert Olivia Arezzolo who shared her top recommendations on ditching your bad habits to help you rest a little easier. The perfect night’s sleep doesn’t have to just be an elusive dream.
1. You’re not breaking a sweat throughout the day
Exercise is a zeitgeber – a factor to control and reset the circadian rhythm. Reflectively, research shows just 30 minutes of jogging can advance phase your circadian cycle (body clock) by 32 minutes – helping you fall asleep 32 minutes earlier and wake 32 minutes earlier. This is perfect for those who struggle to switch off at night.
As you may assume, the key is to get your exercise fix in the morning.
Whether it’s a HIIT, Pilates or a brisk walk around the park – remember, just half an hour can help you sleep better.
2. Scrolling to try and fall asleep
We’ve all been there before. Can’t get to sleep? How about a 5-minute scroll? Think again.
Blue light is the number one factor to suppress sleepiness hormone melatonin – making it harder to fall and stay asleep. Prospectively, research shows using a phone in the last hour before bed increases the likelihood you’ll take over 60 minutes to fall asleep by 48%. To help you get off your screens, I have a goodnight phone alarm which reminds me to disconnect from tech an hour before bed – it’s a game changer.
3. Sleeping in poor quality bedding
Discomfort while you’re sleeping can significantly reduce your quality of sleep – tossing and turning correlates with lighter, restless sleep, leaving you exhausted in the morning – even if you’ve had 8 hours. While your mattress is important, equally are your pillows and sheets.
To ensure you’re sleeping on the one that is designed for your unique sleeping profile, taking an online sleep questionnaire, such as the one by Sheridan. Whether you’re a back, front or side sleeper; run hot or cold – you receive tailored recommendations as to the bedding for your specific needs – exactly as you should have anyway.
4. Drinking coffee – even in the morning
Research shows just a few coffees at 7am – yes, first thing in the morning – reduces total sleep time and lowers sleep efficiency – so you spend more time awake through the night, instead of being asleep.
Instead of your morning or 3pm pick up, get a little movement into your afternoon: Research shows just 15 minutes of stair climbing can improve energy more than an espresso (yes, really!)
5. Not tracking it
Think about it – if no one checked in on your workday by day, week by week, would you make the same effort you do knowing they do?
It’s not just you – research by American Academy of Training and Development found having a scheduled check in with an accountability partner makes you 95% more likely to achieve the goal.
In that check in, you need to go through your progress on your goal to sleep better – which is easy when you have tangible, objective data. This is exactly why I track my own sleep with my Fitbit Luxe and encourage you to do the same. It’s fundamental to seeing the results you want, know and deserve – better sleeping.
Metrics such as sleep score available in the Fitbit app provide an overall measure of how well you slept – taking into account your heart rate, sleep depth and time spent awake in bed. So, if you wake up and find your sleep score is lower than usual, think back on the night before and consider what impacted this.
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