Feeling you’re doing everything right but still waking up tired? You could be sabotaging your sleep without even knowing it. Never fear, our resident sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo dissects the five things you should never do before bed.
Sleep: it’s free. And we all want more of it, so why is it so hard to get? Specifically – that consistent, restorative, uninterrupted, eight-hours-a-night kinda sleep. Which is why we’ve enlisted Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo to solve our myriad of sleep concerns with our new editorial series Sleep Well Wednesdays. Check back each week and you’ll be off to the land of nod before you know it.
Are you sabotaging your sleep without even knowing it? There are things you can do to help yourself get a better night’s rest, but equally some habits or foods can interrupt the vital production of sleep hormones and leave you feeling exhausted the next day.
Here are five things you should never do before bed.
Have an espresso martini
Caffeine inhibits the action of neurotransmitter adenosine, the lesser-known sleepiness hormone. Of equal importance as melatonin, studies show adenosine creates an urge for you to sleep, which is then antagonised (masked) by the action of caffeine.
Consequently, you forget you were tired and temporarily trick yourself into thinking you don’t need sleep. In actual fact; you do, you’re just delaying it.
So this doesn’t just impact your ability to fall asleep but it also exacerbates fatigue the following day. Especially for those in lockdown, avoiding additional fatigue is vital.
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That’s the coffee side, but what about alcohol? Studies show booze can impact your circadian rhythm, and it blocks REM sleep, often considered the most restorative part of the cycle, leaving you feeling groggy and unfocused the next day.
Omit healthy fats from your dinner
A recent study found an omega 3 supplement – one of the healthy fats – enabled participants to sleep for an entire hour longer, compared to those who were taking a placebo (fake) supplement. An entire hour!
And while they don’t HAVE to be at dinner, it does help – they promote satiety and keep your blood sugar levels stable, preventing you from having a snack attack at 11pm.
Great examples include salmon, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Have a super sugary dessert
Studies show diets high in sugar are correlated with less restorative sleep and more frequent nighttime wakings.
While that ice cream might seem appealing at the time, feeling super energised before bed is not.
Instead; opt for something light, like one of these sleep-friendly, refined sugar-free snacks. A banana protein shake or a calming camomile tea are great options here.
Have a super hot bath
While bathing has been found in clinical trials to promote higher sleep quality, be mindful not to have this too close to bed.
Because sleepiness hormone melatonin is produced when you have a cool core body temperature, having a super steamy bath just before bed can impede its synthesis.
And while you may be able to fall asleep from the physiological relaxation caused by warm water; chance are you’re more likely to wake throughout the night – melatonin doesn’t just help you fall asleep, it helps you stay asleep too.
I’ve covered the importance of blocking out blue light before, but just in case you need a reminder.
Studies show exposure to blue light delays the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So all those screens, be it your phone, laptop, TV, are all enemies here.
By ‘delay’, I mean, the fatigue will come, it’ll just be in the morning rather than at night when it’s supposed to.
Invest in some blue light glasses, or ensure your gadgets have the ‘nighttime mode’ activated, which filters out blue light and turns the screen yellowish.
Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology, Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV. You can find her on Instagram at @oliviaarezzolo.