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Top 12 Don'ts Before Bedtime

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Sleep Disorders  related image Photo: Getty Images

To get a better night's sleep and wake up refreshed in the morning, here are 12 things you should not do before bedtime.


1. Go to bed at different times every night. Try to stick to near the same bed time every night. If you go to bed at midnight every night, set the alarm for 8:00AM to get the full 8 hours.

2. Nap during the day. Naps are good, but only if you can still get your full 8 hours at night. If not, try to fight off the urge to head to the couch for a quick snooze after dinner.

3. Drink alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but with a few hours, the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall and cause you to wake up. 

4. Have caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. Most people think about coffee as their only caffeine fix and drink decaf after dinner. However, certain teas, sodas, and chocolate also contain caffeine, so check the time before you indulge.

5. Exercise before bed. Regular exercise is great anytime except bedtime. If you exercise regularly, you know the reason why.

6. Fall asleep on the couch or recliner. This may be comfortable at first, but most people will wake up in the middle of the night and wander into the bedroom. This deceases your REM sleep.

7. Keep your bedroom warm. A cool bedroom with enough covers to keep your body warm is the best scenario. Some people use a cool cap or cloth on their heads for better sleep.

8. Sleep in a noisy, bright environment. Some people think they can sleep with the light on and the TV blasting. These people are not getting the deep sleep they need. If you have no choice, try earplugs and an eye mask. Having a fan in your bedroom can also create a ‘white’ noise to drown out the noise you have no control over. 

9. Use your bed as an office. Hugh Heffner may use his big round bed as an office but he probably has another 35 of them for sleeping and sex. Your body needs to settle down before sleeping, not be primed for office work.

10. Use bedtime as worry-time. When you try to go to sleep, do you often find your mind racing about work or other problematic issues? This is a major cause for sleep deprivation. Meditating or listening to soft music can help you settle down. You can also try making an appointment to worry at, say, 10:00AM tomorrow morning. This helps take your mind off the issues and most people will have forgotten what they were stressing about by the time 10:00AM rolls around. 

11. Go to bed dirty. This sounds weird, but if you’ve been out partying half the night or pulling weeds in your garden all day, your body will become more relaxed if you take a warm bath or shower before hitting the hay. Besides, you won’t have to change the sheets as often.

12. Email, text, and chat into the night. The Sun Times article: Tech innovation spurs sleep deprivation by Sophie Terbush, reports, “The National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America poll, 95 percent of the 1,508 people surveyed reported using some type of electronic device — such as a TV, computer, video game or cell phone — within an hour of bedtime at least a few nights a week.” All the lights and noise can mess up your melatonin levels and cause a miserable night’s sleep. Just shut it off. It will all be there in the morning. 


Reviewed July 19, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Add a Comment2 Comments

I agree, cazort. I've turned back to reading a good novel that will distract me from the rest of the world. :)

Thanks for your comment.

July 21, 2011 - 7:16pm

I think tip 12 is probably the most important one...I also think television isn't the best thing. The only technology that I think is good right before bed is a relaxing phone conversation. I too often get sucked into doing things on the computer.

I've found that if I'm going to use the computer before bed, toning things down on it is a must...I keep only one or two programs open, and turn the screen's brightness down. The constant buzz of all the different things going on on the computer can be so distracting and I find can put me into a hyped up mode where it's hard to get to sleep.

July 20, 2011 - 6:53am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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