The 6 bedtime mistakes you're making that are fuelling your insomnia – and how to fix it
IF your head is hitting the pillow and you're struggling to fall to sleep despite being exhausted, then your bedtime routine could be to blame.
On average, adults need around seven to nine hours sleep a night, but people who have insomnia will suffer regularly with sleep problems.
There are many causes for insomnia, such as stress, anxiety or depression, alcohol, caffeine or nicotine and even uncomfortable beds.
In the last month alone, searches for the meaning of insomnia have shot up by 400 per cent, with people searching for reasons why they can't sleep also up by 100 per cent over the last seven days, data from Google Trends shows.
If you're constantly tired throughout the day, then it's likely you're not getting enough sleep.
Many people experience problems with sleep in their life and it's thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point.
The NHS says that insomnia can usually be cured by changing your habits around sleep.
Here we look at the six mistakes you're making before bed that could be fuelling your insomnia and keeping you from slumber.
1. Drinking booze
The NHS says that you should not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed.
Tim Goodwin, founder of Lean Greens said alcohol is a sedative, so whilst you might believe that you fall asleep quicker after a few glasses of wine, it won’t be restful.
He explained: "Alcohol blocks REM sleep which helps with emotional processing. You will be waking up in the night without realising and feel slightly fragile and hungover in the morning.
"If you can help it, try and drink earlier in the evening to give your body time to process it."
2. Weekend lie-ins
Getting into a routine and a pattern can help – but to do that, it's likely you'll have to cut out weekend lie-ins, Tim says.
"Have determination to wake up at the same time every day – regardless of if it’s the weekend or not. On Sundays, have around an hour leeway, anything longer can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
"This signals your brain that the morning wake up time doesn’t change, and it will begin to function properly.
"It might seem odd to wake up at 9am if you’ve had a restless night, but a few weeks in, your body will thank you and you’ll fall asleep more regularly."
Official guidance from the NHS says that you should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
A nap might seem vital to get you through your day but overdoing it can impact your ability to sleep during the night.
The NHS says you should try to not nap throughout the day if you are suffering from insomnia.
4. Bright lights
Exposure to bright lights impacts the brain’s ability to produce melatonin as it resembles daytime, Tim says.
"Melatonin is the sleep hormone that encourages us to sleep. Ensure you have dimmed light fixtures your bedroom and avoid using bright overhead lights when it’s closer to bedtime.
"If your window treatments are attracting daylight, invest in black out blinds."
The NHS says you should not watch television or use devices, like smartphones, right before going to bed, because the bright light makes you more awake.
5. Big meals
The NHS says that if you suffer with insomnia then you shouldn't eat big meals close to bed time.
Tim added that you should also curb eating in bed as it will negatively impact your sleep.
He added: "It ultimately confuses your brain and blurs the line between sleep and non-sleep. Food debris can also increase the risk of bacteria spreading.
"Sitting upright to consume food can influence digestion and your relaxed mindset could subject you to overeating. Ensure your bedroom is a food free zone to preserve your sleep hygiene."
Having a good sleep environment is key, especially if you have insomnia.
The NHS says you should make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs if needed and that you should make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable.
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