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5 habits that are damaging our sleep – and how we can fix them

Considering we spend approximately a third of our lives asleep, it shouldn’t be surprising that sleep is an important factor to our health. However, this is often a neglected part of our wellbeing, and not considered as vital to our lifestyle as eating, drinking, and breathing. A peaceful night’s sleep allows our bodies to recover and repair themselves from the strains of the day, while our brains use this time to process information and memories.

There are multiple reasons why sleep is important, as explained by Healthline. Sleep is closely linked with glucose metabolism and immune function; getting sufficient sleep is correlated with improved concentration and productivity, whereas lack of sleep is linked to higher body weight.   

There are many habits that we may have intentionally or unintentionally adopted that can interrupt our sleep patterns and damage our quality of sleep.

We’ve summarised 5 of the most common “sleep damaging” habits and how you can work to fix them:

  1. Screen time in the bedroom

Smartphones and tablets ‘conveniently’ allow us scroll, chat, shop or browse whenever – and wherever – we feel like it; while we travel, enjoy the outdoors, or in any room of the house. A recent poll showed that more than half of the UK population used their smart devices in bed, with 78% of people checking or using theirs within an hour of going to sleep. Scientists have found links between low levels of the sleep hormone Melatonin and high exposure to the blue light we see when using electronic devices. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us feel drowsy, so more blue light and an associated decrease in Melatonin can cause us difficulties in getting to sleep.

The general advice is to turn off any sort of screen including mobiles, computers, tablets and televisions at least 45 minutes before you plan to fall asleep and opt for reading a book rather than watching TV in the bedroom. And it’s worth noting that blue light is not limited to smartphones and tablets – it’s best to watch out for digital alarm clocks or radios too, as these can be enough to disrupt your sleep cycle. Consider the next electronic alarm clock you purchase or the clock radio you are thinking about placing in the bedroom.

  1. Going to bed on a full stomach or bladder

Eating a large meal or drinking a lot before going to bed can trigger bathroom trips during the night, interrupting your sleep. There is also research that shows eating a larger meal prior to laying horizontally can cause acid reflux, provoking heartburn symptoms, trouble swallowing and night-time asthma, and therefore discomfort difficulty sleeping.

It is suggested that if you generally eat your largest meal in the evenings, start thinking about training your body to consume most of your calories earlier in the day, so that your body has more time to digest and metabolise. If you’re used to a smaller breakfast and lunch followed by a larger dinner, you can easily transition yourself over time to eating larger breakfasts and lunches, before ending your day with a lighter meal.

  1. Using your bedroom for multiple purposes

More of the global population than ever before are frequently working from home. However, not all of us are in the position to have a designated workspace separate from the bedroom.

As ‘generation rent’ figures show more of us than ever are living in shared accommodation well into our 30s, 40s and even 50s, many people have had no choice but to live, work and sleep all in the same room during national lockdowns.

It’s best to put your work-from-home setup elsewhere in the house – if you’re able to. Treat your bedroom as a sanctuary; a place where the only task at hand is to rest, recover and sleep. This means that regardless of whether your bedroom doubles up as a home office, any other gadgets, computers, gaming systems, or even workout equipment should be moved to another room (or tidied away). Anything that can cause distraction from your ‘sleep sanctuary’ could affect the quality of the rest you get each night, so is best placed out of sight.

  1. Alcohol & coffee before bed

‘Any one for a nightcap?’ Although alcohol can make you feel drowsy and fall asleep faster, studies have shown that consuming alcohol can cause people to wake more frequently and experience lighter sleep during the night. This is because as you sleep, your body metabolises the alcohol you consumed before bed. Once it has finished this process, your body continues in a state of adjustment – even though there is nothing left to metabolise. This continuous metabolic adjustment throughout the night causes disruption to your sleep, in most likely waking you in the early hours.

The same can be said for caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in your brain and nervous system ultimately keeping you awake. DeathWishCoffee explains how caffeine can last in our systems anywhere from 4 to 6 hours and has a half-life of about 5 hours. This means that after drinking 200mg of caffeine, you’ll still have 100mg left in your body after 5 hours.

It is best to avoid drinking any caffeine at least 6 hours before you plan to go to sleep, as this will help you avoid any brain stimulation while you are trying to switch off.

  1. Not optimising your sleep environment

For the best chance of a peaceful night, avoid sense ‘stimulants’ in your sleep environment. This means quiet, dark, not too hot, and not too cold, so you are comfortable and undistracted.

As well as lights, noise and temperature, the air you breathe whilst you sleep can also affect your sleep environment. With bacteria and dust in the air, allergies, and conditions such as hay fever and asthma can be triggered, causing sleep disrupting symptoms from sneezing and coughing to nose congestion and sore throats.

By filtering out allergens in the bedroom using an Air Purifier, this can help prevent sleep disruptions and allow for a more restful night’s sleep.

Restful night = increased chances of feeling productive and energised the following day! It’s a win, win.

Instant Air Purifier’s Night Mode senses the room’s lighting, so it knows exactly when you are settling down for the night and turning off the lights. When this happens, any display lights are turned off (goodbye blue lights) and the plasma ion generator reduces the fan noise to less than 24 decibels, so there are no sound disruptions.

With 3 sizes, and 2 colours, our Instant Air Purifiers are suitable for any sized bedroom, to match with any décor. Shop the collection here.

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