You're Ruining Your Sleep With These 8 Things You Do Every Day

by Niki McGloster

I'm never not tired.

At first, I was concerned I'd morphed into one of those entitled, lazy bums Baby Boomers always bitch about.

But, as it turns out, my sleeping habits are just f*cked up.

In an effort to catch up on Sleeping Beauty-like snoozes, I contacted Dr. Shelby Harris. She's the director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

On a basic level, Harris says there are a few key things to remember when it comes to sleep.

She advises,

Be consistent with bed and wake times, avoid caffeine within eight hours of bed and don't lay in bed if you can't sleep.

If you're downing three shots of espresso just to stay awake at work, your day-to-day sleep pattern is probably ruined.

1. You're eating spicy, rich or heavy meals late at night.

Your body needs to begin shutting down before bed, not work to digest all that food you just ate. Avoid big meals within three hours of going to bed.

To help induce sleepiness, Harris suggests mixing whole grain carbs with some protein.

She recommends,

[Eat] an apple with some peanut butter or crackers with some cheese. Stay away from anything with caffeine at night, such as chocolate.

2. You live-tweet from your bed.

Most of us can't turn our minds off early enough to achieve a good night's sleep.

Instead of watching Real Housewives reruns until 4 am, Harris advocates choosing smarter ways to take a mental load off.

Harris says,

Experiment to find what works for you to wind down. For some, it's reading. For others, it's doing mindfulness meditation. Could be muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises or even art. See what works for you and keep doing it during that hour long power down time before bed.

3. You try your best to catch up on sleep.

Sleeping past noon on a Saturday sounds like the ultimate staycation, but you're nowhere closer to feeling rested on Monday morning.

According to Harris, it takes more than one day to catch up on a major sleep deficit.

Harris says,

Most people consistently don't get enough sleep on a nightly basis, leading to a five to 10-plus hour debt come the weekend. Make getting more sleep daily a good goal. Keeping the same bed and wake times every single day is ideal.

4. You sleep with your pet.

Fluffy does more than just hog the bed.

Even if your pet doesn't fully wake you up, sleeping with an animal can interrupt your sleep cycle.

Harris says,

They move and make noises and it can cause awakenings even if you don't know it was the pet at the time. Plus, they can have allergens in their fur that will get on your bedding.

5. You hit snooze on your alarm clock.

Though you may want to hit snooze the morning after an all-nighter, Harris says the extra 15 minutes will wreck your sleep cycle.

Waking up multiple times in the morning can ruin your circadian rhythm, an internal "body clock" that determines how our bodies react throughout the next 24-hours.

She says,

A great sleeper should have a properly set circadian rhythm and naturally awaken at around the same time every day.

6. You sleep with your phone under your pillow or your TV on.

Harris has science on her side.

LED lighting found in phones, tablets and the like stops sleep-inducing neurons, causing sleep deficiencies.

Harris suggests,

 Just keep them outside the room.

As for falling asleep during "Vanderpump Rules"?

Harris warns about the effects.

She says,

We can sense the blue light from the TV through our eyelids. This can make it harder to fall or stay asleep. Plus, the volume can go up and down at times and make your sleep light.

7. You have a glass of red wine before bed.

Those glasses of Pinot Noir are interrupting your sleep more than helping your heart health.

Harris suggests avoiding alcohol at all costs if you want a quality slumber.

She says,

Alcohol may make you drowsy, but it can cause sleep to be broken, light and un-refreshing.

8. You're too reliant on sleeping pills.

Plenty of sleep disorders require medication.

However, it's best to try behavioral treatments that are just as effective.

Harris says,

It is ideal to not take sleeping pills for over two to four weeks. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of remaining on sleep aids for long term or how to stop them if you so desire.