11 Jan New Year, better rest? The bad sleep habits you need to kick in 2019
Welcome to 2019! If you’re anything like the millions of Brits who set themselves goals for the new year, you’ve probably got your own list of aspirations that you’re trying to achieve. But, if you haven’t already, there’s one promise you should be making yourself, and that’s kicking the bad habits that were disrupting your sleep back in 2018.
Last year, the Sleep Council produced a new Great British Bedtime Report, which found that people in the UK were getting worse levels of sleep than ever before — 74% of us are not getting the recommended seven hours each night, and 30% say they suffer from poor sleep quality.
Many of the leading disruptors, like stress (45%), worry (53%), partner disturbance (25%), and an uncomfortable bed (13%), are either avoidable or can be severely reduced with the right steps. So, why not take action against some of the issues that are affecting your own rest in 2019? To help you get started, we’ve listed some of the most avoidable habits and how to kick them below.
Stress and worry
Stress and worry are major sleep disruptors, and they tend to take hold when you’re trying to drift off at night. While it’s difficult to stop yourself from feeling these things, there are a few methods you can use to alleviate these issues before bed.
One of the best ways to combat stress and worry in the evenings is to make time for an activity you enjoy. This will help you to put your mind at ease. The activity could be as simple as reading a book or writing in a journal, or it could be something designed to relax your mind and body like yoga or meditation. Whatever you love to do, be sure to put some time aside for it before bed.
According to advice from the NHS, getting active is another great method of destressing. There’s evidence to suggest that exercise can cause a chemical change in the brain that can positively boost your mood, as well as having a psychological effect of increasing self-esteem.
However, before going for a run or hitting the gym right before bed, be sure to give yourself at least an hour to wind down afterwards, as you may find you’re too amped up to nod off right away. You can find more ideas for relaxing in our blog post on unwinding for better sleep.
Sleeping with a partner can have many benefits, including reducing stress levels, improving sleep routine, and building a stronger relationship. However, it’s not without its problems, which can include snoring, hogging covers, sleep talking, and one person hitting the snooze button all the time. Thankfully, the majority of these problems can be solved.
For instance, snoring, which is one of the most common issues for bed-sharers, can be addressed a number of ways, such as changing sleep position, improving sleep hygiene, and living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll find the most effective solutions to snoring and other sharing problems in our snoring advice and partner disturbance blog posts.
Screen time before bed
If you regularly check your phone or watch TV in bed for long periods, you could be negatively affecting the quality of your sleep. This is because the exposure to blue light emitted by screens has the ability to confuse your brain and delay it from entering sleep mode. This is backed up by science, too — a 2013 study published in the journal Nature recorded how neurons are activated by light from screens, making it harder to nod off.
The solution to this bad habit is pretty simple: make your bedroom a technology-free zone and refrain from checking your phone or watching the TV for a couple of hours before sleep. This also gives you the perfect excuse to put some time aside for one of those stress-busting activities that we mentioned earlier.
Eating and drinking the wrong things
One of the most avoidable bad habits on this list is eating and drinking things that negatively impact your sleep. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and spicy or acidic dishes are just some of the major offenders for this and should be avoided at all costs before you hit the hay.
In addition, a poor and unbalanced diet can also be enough to impact your rest — a 2016 study found that eating more fatty and sugary foods and neglecting fibrous items was enough to cause restlessness and limit restorative sleep.
Simply looking to eat a healthier selection of foods through the day and limiting your intake of caffeinated, sugary, and alcoholic beverages in the afternoon and evening is a great place to begin. You can also take the next step and actively seek out foods that help to promote sleep if you want to experience a higher quality of rest.
Another very avoidable bad habit is sleeping on an uncomfortable bed every night and allowing it to ruin your sleep. If you feel that your mattress is giving you aches and pains or your allergies are being aggravated more than in the past, it’s probably time to think about upgrading. Your bed, bedding, and mattress are very important for your overall health, so it really is worth investing in.
A memory foam mattress is a great choice for giving your bed a new lease of life thanks to its supportive qualities, though you can easily refresh your existing mattress with a memory foam topper if you think it’s still got a bit of life left in it. Also, if you suffer from allergies that keep you awake, picking up a mattress protector can keep bacteria and microbes at bay.
Follow our advice here and you will be able to kick some of these disruptive habits and enjoy much healthier sleep in 2019. If you have any questions about these tips or would like advice about kitting out your bedroom, then feel free to get in touch. Our blog and advice centre are also great sources of information.