Insomnia? Oh, no! That wouldn’t happen to me. I’ve nailed every good daytime and sleeping habit to a T.
But do you know that some seemingly innocent habits you do every day or as part of your nighttime routine could actually be disrupting your sleep?
- You believe you need 8 hours of sleep.
Sleeping 8 hours daily to achieve optimum rest is this world’s accepted norm. But sleep experts agree that isn’t always the case.
“Some individuals are 9-hour sleepers while some feel fully rested after sleeping for only 6-7 hours,” says one known sleep specialist and author. She went on to say that the former may not be getting enough sleep because they think 9 hours of sleep is too much while the latter worry because they think they’re not getting enough sleep.
“But sleep hours differ for every person,” she insisted.
She then went on to dole out this advice: if you wake up in the morning without the aid of an alarm clock, feel fully rested and don’t get tired throughout the day, it means you got the right amount of sleep.
If you find yourself falling asleep in front of Netflix each evening or need a constant stream of caffeine to keep your mind on track, your ideal number of sleep hours is probably higher than what you’ve been getting. — Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D.
- You sleep in or sleep late during the weekends.
Most people maintain different sleep schedules during the weekdays and the weekends. Some think the weekends are free passes to sleep in late while others spend their end of the workdays partying. The weekend’s over and they feel fatigued, a condition experts termed as social jet lag.
“This shouldn’t be the case,” one psychologist-medical doctor states. “Our bodies thrive on consistency. We need to be constant with our sleeping hours so as not to disrupt our internal clocks.”
You may feel groggy the first several days. However, sticking with this wake time teaches the body to go to sleep earlier and faster. — Lauren Woolley, PhD
- You hit the sack too early.
People with insomniac tendencies deem sleeping early as a solution to their problem but it’s not, says one Canadian sleep expert.
“About 90% of insomniacs do this,” he adds.
In a cognitive behavioral therapy approach for insomnia, sleep doctors would start with the patient’s wake-up time and count some 6-7 hours to determine the right time to sleep. Example, if you wake up at 5:30 AM, your sleep time must be between 10:30 to 11:30 PM. Staying up late serves as an indicator of your body’s homeostatic system that you need more sleep, so once you get into bed, you sleep sooner. Secondly, getting to bed later also fools your body into thinking you’ve been active (it helps if you really are!) and really need a restful nighttime sleep.
- You don’t have a nighttime wind-down routine.
You may think yourself too old for that one glass of warm milk or a story before going to bed nighttime thing but you’ll find the experts not agreeing with you.
“Nightly bedtime routines tell your body it’s time to wind down and sleep,” says a sleep therapist from New York. “And if your bedtime routine includes checking your smartphone or watching old action flicks, it’s no wonder you’re not getting enough sleep.”
She recommends doing relaxing things and habits an hour before bedtime. Taking a bath, keeping the lights low, meditation…these are but some of the things that promote snoozing.
Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, is an amazing practice that only requires you to lie down and listen to a guided program of relaxation. — Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM
- You keep track of the time.
One of the things we usually do when we can’t sleep is to keep watching the clock and counting the time until our wake up hour. This is a recipe for disaster, states a Canadian sleep lab director.
“Counting hours only makes you more anxious. The more anxious you feel the more your body releases the alert hormones cortisol and adrenaline into your system, resulting in more sleep disruptions,” she clarifies.
So if being a time watchdog is your problem, remove any clocks on your nightstand and see your sleep quality improve.