When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, a few musts come to mind: a quiet room, comfortable bed and plenty of time. But research actually shows that what we do during the day can have as much effect on sleep as anything we do at night.
So if you’re having trouble drifting off even after revamping your night routine, see if these daytime mistakes are tripping you up:
1. You hit the snooze button.
Getting a good night’s sleep can hinge in part on the very first thing you do in the morning. That’s because when you hit that snooze button, you’re starting a new sleep cycle you won’t be able to finish in 10 minutes when the alarm goes off again, according to Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.
“You’re fragmenting what little extra sleep you’re getting so it is of poor quality,” he told CNN.
Not finishing a sleep cycle your body has started can make you feel groggier during the day, which could also throw off your body’s internal clock and disrupt your sleep the next night too, Rosenberg explained.
2. You stayed out of the sun.
One of the best things you can do for sleep: get into the sunlight (or even inside light) first thing in the morning. Several studies have shown that exposure to light in the morning helps reset your circadian rhythm for the next 24 hours, telling you to feel awake in the morning and also to feel sleepy when it’s time to hit the pillow later on.
3. You spent too much time on your smartphone.
Many studies have suggested that too much screen time before sleep could be dangerous for your Zs. The blue light devices give off messes with your body’s natural nightly production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.
But a new study found that spending too much time on your smartphone anytime throughout the day might also be detrimental to your shuteye. The study tracked the smartphone screen time use of 653 people, as well as their self-reported measures of sleep. Both duration and quality of sleep decreased as smartphone screen time use increased.
4. You drank a soda or two.
A new study of 18,779 adults showed that people who sleep five or fewer hours a night drank 21 percent more more sugary, caffeinated beverages than people who got seven to eight hours a night.
The survey data does not clearly indicate whether drinking more sugary, caffeinated beverages caused people to sleep less, or if sleeping less caused individuals to drink more sugary, caffeinated beverages. But both behaviors are linked with negative health outcomes, said study author Aric A. Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco.
“Sleeping too little and drinking too many sugary drinks have both been linked to negative metabolic health outcomes, including obesity,” Prather said in a statement. And it’s likely that the relationship between both behaviors works both ways. That means cleaning up one behavior ― like cutting back on the soda and energy drinks ― may improve sleep.
5. You’re smoking.
Add sleep issues to the long list of serious health risks associated with smoking.
The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant, just like caffeine is, which could keep you awake at night. Studies have shown smokers are more than four times more likely to report restless sleep than nonsmokers. Smoking actually changes your body’s internal clock, increases your chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea, and causes the average person to lose 1.2 minutes of sleep for every cigarette they smoke.
6. You spend too much time on the couch.
Exercise is the gift to your health that keeps on giving and giving and giving. It helps keep weight under control, boosts your mood, keeps your bones and muscles strong, reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers and it helps you live longer overall. A regular workout routine also helps you sleep like a baby, experts say.
A survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that people who reported being exercisers sleep better than people who reported being non-exercisers. But the survey also found that good sleep wasn’t just reserved for gym rats ― even just sitting less can do the trick. The study found that sitting for fewer than six hours per day corresponded to reporting good sleep, compared to sitting for 10 or more hours.
7. You’re using your bed as a breakfast table or office.
No matter how small your apartment may seem, your bed is not your desk. It’s not your couch. And it’s definitely not your comfy phone booth for marathon catch-ups with your best friend.
“You want to associate the bed with sleep,” Jess Shatkin, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine, previously told HuffPost. “Just like Pavlov’s dogs started drooling when they heard the bell, you want your head to drool for sleep when you see your bed.”
Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post’s sleep reporter. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.