We usually don’t like to admit to anything that we brought onto ourselves, blaming not getting a good night’s sleep on having had a bad day. However, sleep problems can also be caused by our own bad habits. There are many different reasons that can be contributing to our sleep issues. Some of them can be due to our bad behaviours, like staying up late or eating foods throughout the day that we know might make us pay for it later. Drinking alcoholic beverages earlier in the evening can definitely mess up our sleeping patterns.

All of these things can have an adverse affect on our sleep routines. Some of us unknowingly train our body to stay awake and eventually begin reaching for sleeping aids, which are only going to solve the problem for that night. And, after time goes by, we may end up taking sleeping aids to solve the problem every night, becoming addicted.

Eventually, those with insomnia have to face the facts. They need to figure out what the real reason for not being able to sleep is, and then weight and balance the root of the problem head-on. The following are some of the sleep “mistakes” and their solutions.

Mistake #1: not preparing to go to sleep

bedtime yoga

Photo credit: B2M Productions via Getty Images

It would be unrealistic to expect your body to come to a halt and be able to fall asleep on the spur of the moment. If you don’t have a regular schedule, that’s exactly what you’re asking your body to do. Sleep neurotransmitters are produced during a sound sleep, which is when sleep hormones are released.

Solution

Follow these steps to gradually shift into being ready for sleep.

  1. Choose a certain time to turn everything off so that you can devote some time preparing for bed.
  2. Turn off all electronic devices, because the stimulation to the brain will make it harder to fall asleep.
  3. About an hour before bedtime, begin dimming the lights, as this will put you more in the mood for bed.
  4. Begin preparing for sleep by taking a warm bath and unwinding.
  5. Take a little quiet time and listen to some relaxing music. This will enhance your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Some people prefer doing exercises (relaxing ones, of course), meditation and/or yoga.

Mistake #2: not having a consistent sleep regimen

It is important to remember that once you lose sleep, it’s gone, and it’s something you cannot get back by going to bed early the following night. The body has to be able to regulate with consistency. Staying up late disrupts our bodily function.

alarm clock

Solution

Develop a regular routine and stick to it. Establishing sleep habits to benefit the mind and body is important. That means keeping to them both on weekdays and weekends. Having a sleeping schedule is what our bodies crave for. Good sleep requires consistency and regularity. Sleep reinforces our brain, reminding it when to release hormones and when not to.

Mistake #3: your body isn’t getting the correct sleep signals

The body needs signals that let it know when it’s day or night, bedtime or time to get up. For instance, a person working the first shift would have to train their body to a different schedule than someone working the second shift. The body needs total darkness when sleeping in order to produce sleep hormones and melatonin.

Solution

Have it as dark as you can when sleeping. Take a moment and examine all the things around the area that you sleep. Do they give off light when you’re trying to sleep? Things such as electronic clock, smartphones, your phone’s charger indicator, computer monitors, battery indicators on other things, and those little lights on other electronic devices, all of these are disturbing to your sleep cycle. Most people do not realize that it only takes a small amount of light to interrupt the production of the pineal gland’s sleep hormones.

Mistake #4: naps are good, but they don’t make up for lost sleep

In order to get a full night of sleep, it is best not to take naps after approx. 4:00 in the afternoon or in the evening, and no nodding off while watching television. Doing so can ruin your good night’s sleep.

woman bed nap

Solution

If you do nap, be sure to keep it down to 20 to 30 minutes. When a nap is absolutely called for, it should be for only 20 to 30 minutes and definitely before 4:00 P.M. This is what is referred to as power naps, and if they are for short durations and early in the day, they can actually benefit the body.

Mistake #5: Snacks with refined sugars and grains just before bed

Not only do these raise your blood sugar levels, but they cause all organs that help in regulating hormones in the body to become over stressed. A hormone unbalance like this effects the sleep cycle. In return, the levels of the hormones being distributed throughout your body are not circulating correctly, instead they start to fluctuate.

Solution

If you have to eat, eat high-protein snacks. It is not recommended to eat snacks near bedtime, especially refined grains or sugars. On the other hand, if you absolutely have to eat, it would be better for you to eat things that are high in protein. Protein snacks will not cause a hormone unbalance, in fact, they can provide L-tryptophan, the amino acid that helps in producing melatonin.