Do you wake up unrefreshed even after a night’s sleep? Do you often experience disturbed sleep? If yes, that may be because you are not getting enough sleep or your sleep quality is not good. Possibly your diet, lifestyle, and routine may be interfering with your sleep. Know about the habits that can affect your sleep and make the necessary changes to your routine.
Lack of adequate sleep can greatly affect your health. About 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep and wakefulness disorder that affects their daily functioning, health, and longevity.1
8 Habits That Can Affect Your Sleep
You must be aware that sleep is influenced by many factors. Several studies are conducted to identify the impact of modern lifestyle factors on sleep, its quality, and duration. Some of the lifestyle factors and habits that can affect your sleep include alternative time schedules, jetlag, use of electronic media, and altered exposure to light.2
While it is known that certain diet and lifestyle choices can affect your health, many such habits can affect your sleep as well. To plan a healthy life you need to know about the habits that can affect your sleep and try to make appropriate lifestyle modifications.
Changing Sleep Timings
One of the habits that can affect your sleep includes changing sleep timings and patterns often. Many people often find it difficult to sleep when they have varied times of sleeping, as it affects their biorhythm. Some people may experience disturbed sleep by changing the place where they sleep or the mattress or comforter that they regularly use. People working in shifts and those traveling often experience sleep issues due to changing sleep timings and difficulty in adjusting the body’s circadian rhythm. A 2018 study reported on the impact of jetlag on the quality of sleep. It was noted that people who fly over six or more different time zones can greatly impact their sleep. It may take about 4 to 6 days after travel to resume their regular sleep patterns.3
A 2017 study reports that good sleep is essential for shift workers whereas disturbed sleep is associated with anxiety, depression, and poor mental and physical health that can affect the quality of life. Also, the disturbances in the circadian rhythm can cause disturbances in the hormones like melatonin and cortisol, which can further raise the risk of metabolic disorders like obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.4
Try to follow a regular sleep routine, sleep and wake up at the same time, in the same place and follow a sleep routine before bedtime to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Shift workers need to follow a schedule to make sure they get enough sleep during the other times of the day.
Increased mental stress whether it is personal stress or workplace stress, can add to sleep issues. If the working environment is highly stressful, and demanding it can result in disturbed sleep. While it is difficult to take away the stress around you, it is possible to learn to deal with the stress that you experience. Persons who are easily stressed out by their circumstances can feel more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for the entire night.
A 2018 study suggests that people with highly reactive sleep systems can experience severe deterioration of sleep when stressed, whereas those with low sleep reactivity can remain calm even during times of stress.5
Thus, people who are more easily affected by stressful situations are more likely to experience sleep problems than those who can handle their stress better. While this may not necessarily be a habit but could be a natural response of a person to stressful situations. But the best part is that by proper support, counseling, and practicing appropriate stress management techniques, you can get rid of this habit that can affect your sleep.
Heavy Meals At Night
One of the not-so-good habits that can affect your sleep is eating heavy meals at night. Having a large, heavy meal for dinner at late night or less than an hour before your bedtime can make it difficult to digest the food. This can result in a feeling of fullness or heaviness in the stomach, or regurgitation of acid making it difficult for you to lie down in bed. You may feel uncomfortable and this habit cannot only affect your sleep but also affect your digestive system and raise your risk of acid reflux disease.
A 2016 study reported that eating at night, which means having food anytime between 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime has been shown to negatively influence sleep quality, which is more pronounced in women than in men.6
Alcohol and Caffeine
One of the unhealthy habits that can affect your sleep is having alcohol or caffeine. These are best avoided not only for your sleep but also for your health and well-being.
A 2013 study reported that intake of caffeine and alcohol before bedtime resulted in disturbed sleep along with raised levels of daytime sleepiness and mood disturbances. Sleep difficulties also resulted in irritability that affected personal relations in the case of the medical students who participated in this study.7
Having tea, coffee, chocolate or any stimulant can make you alert and active, thus affecting your sleep, and is hence, best avoided.
Another habit that can affect your sleep is smoking. While there are many other health hazards of smoking it is best to quit smoking and begin making healthier choices.
A 2020 study suggested that the habit of smoking was associated with sleep and cigarette smoking can lead to sleep problems like difficulty in falling asleep and maintaining sleep during the night, particularly in adolescents.8
Vigorous Exercises Before Bedtime
Exercising is good for your health but the best time to do it is when you need to be refreshed. While recent studies have shown that exercising in the evening may be a good idea, it is not advisable to perform vigorous exercises just before bedtime.
A 2019 study reports that evening exercise time does not impact sleep but if vigorous exercise training is not stopped one hour before bedtime, it can affect your sleep quality, efficiency, and total sleep time.9
One of the other habits that can affect your sleep includes sleeping during the day. This is usually experienced by people staying at home or senior adults. While napping in the afternoon can help you feel refreshed and perform better upon waking up, the time and duration of the nap are a concern. Sleeping for long during the day and sleeping in the evening can have a great impact on your night’s sleep.
A 2022 study reported that frequent napping during the day and late naps can result in a delay in falling asleep and waking up frequently, thus affecting the quality of your sleep.10
Studies have found that people who napped for 30 to 90 minutes had better memory and cognition than those who slept for more than 90 minutes during the day. It is also seen that taking longer naps during the day can interfere with your night’s sleep. Experts suggest taking shorter naps or avoiding sleeping during the day for those who have sleeping issues.11
Excessive Screen Time
Your body and mind need to relax to sleep at night. Not just physically but you need to calm down mentally as well. If you remain mentally active doing your work or using the laptop or mobile when you go to bed, it can interfere with your sleep. This is one of the new era habits that can affect your sleep.
A 2020 study reported that using a mobile screen for more than 8 hours a day or using a mobile phone for at least 30 minutes before sleeping after the lights are turned off are associated with poor sleep quality, increased sleep disturbances, and daytime sleepiness.12
You can involve in calming activities like listening to soft music, reading light-hearted stories, and doing meditation or breathing exercises before bedtime.
Now that you know about the habits that can affect your sleep, you can try to avoid them and plan a healthy routine for you and your family.