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Changing Bad Sleep Habits

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/changing-bad-sleep-habits_n_13124198#

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Changing Bad Sleep Habits
Did you ever notice that when you're exhausted, small problems can seem ever bigger? That's because, in addition to having a shorter fuse, lack of sleep can also affect your ability to solve problems. Poor sleep can also lead to a variety of other issues from increasing your risk of accidents to being overweight.

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Bad habits that affect sleep quality

  • Exercising close to bedtime: it can act as a stimulate and keep you from falling asleep;
  • Scanning your phone in bed: bright light tricks your body into thinking it's daytime;
  • Late-night eating;
  • Working right up until bedtime: you need to unwind;
  • Staying up late or sleeping in on the weekends;
  • Having a couple of drinks before bed: Alcohol is a sedative, but as it's metabolized, it can disrupt your slumber.

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Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle

  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;

Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.

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The Science of Sleep

The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

Purpose of Sleep:

  • Restoration
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Metabolic Health

Restoration

The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. Sleeping restores the brains healthy condition by removing these waste products. Accumulation of these waste products has been linked to many brain-related disorders.

Memory Consolidation

The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is responsible for your long term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to remember facts and feelings/emotions.

Decompress from your day

The brain is preparing for sleep about two hours before our actual bedtime. That waking system has to slowly come down to allow the sleep system to take over.

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Don’t wind down with your gadgets

If you do decide to catch up on your favorite show, don’t do it on your computer or tablet. 

Even just a few seconds of exposure from a blue light-emitting device an hour before bed can disrupt the melatonin rhythm, a rhythm that is so critical to helping us fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Eat a light, pre-bedtime snack

In our perpetually dieting world, it’s not uncommon to lie in bed hungry, but not wanting to eat in an effort to save calories. However, hunger is stimulating and fragments sleep.

Eating a light carbohydrate or protein snack prior to bedtime will stave off hunger without causing you to crash and awaken later in the night.