Seven Bedtime Habits That Are Ruining Your Sleep

By Danielle Schloffel

June 27, 2011 5:56 PM
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girl in bed with messy hair
Olivia Graham
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Going from Night Owl to Early Bird

Who says bedtime is just for kids? Take extra care to maintain your sleep schedule, especially on the weekends. The body responds to routine. If your bedtime is sporadic— 11 pm some nights, 1 a.m. others— your mind won't be properly prepared to snooze on the weekdays.

Bringing Books to Bed

Reading before bed is a habit for many. Problem is, your body has likely adapted to that routine—it won't go to sleep until you've logged a couple chapters. Retreat to a comfy couch or window nook instead for your literary fix. The bed should be off limits for anything other than sleep or sex.
woman on a computer
Johann Helgason
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Facebooking into the Wee Hours

The brightness of your computer screen stimulates the brain. Plus, it's difficult for your mind to stop fretting about your digital to-do list, even once you've logged off. Avoid late-night surfing and shut down your computer. Give yourself time to wind down without any electronics.

Skimping on a Good Bed

A good mattress will cost you anywhere from $500 to over $3,000. Consider it money well spent. A decent mattress—do your homework!—will give you a more restful sleep. The same is true for quality bedding and pillows. Opt for a soft pillow if you're a back or stomach sleeper. Buy a firmer pillow if you sleep on your side.

Setting a Bright Alarm Clock

The looming glare of your alarm clock can be distracting when trying to sleep. The goal is to have as dark a room as possible. Block the bright numbers with a book or consider buying a small travel clock. Your cell phone alarm may also do the trick.

Counting Sheep

When you just can't fall asleep, it's useless to stay in bed. If you've been trying to fall asleep for more than 30 minutes, the National Sleep Foundation suggests doing something mundane, like balancing a checkbook, reading or watching TV. An activity that demands marginal brainpower will lull your mind. Before you know it, you'll be crawling back into bed genuinely tired.
Ben Goldstein
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Exercising Late at Night

Daytime workouts will keep you invigorated for hours. That's why you don't want to exercise within three hours of hitting the sack. Intense physical activity raises your body temperature and pumps your energy level—both interrupt a calm transition into sleep.
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