Searching for the ever-elusive perfect night’s sleep? Sleep is vital and having restful sleep helps your body to re-energize and heal itself. Prevent sleep-sabotage by sticking to this pre-bedtime timeline.
6 hours before bed → AVOID CAFFEINE
You may think that that can of soda at dinnertime is sufficient time for the effects to wear off, but science says it’s not. It can last in your system for up to twelve hours. Heck, that means avoiding it at lunch! But at least science isn’t taking away your morning cup of joe.
In case it wasn’t implied clearly enough, having loads of sugar isn’t great for your sleepiness either. Even if you avoid the soda, stay away from the overly sugary juices and caffeine free but not sugar free beverages, too.
3 hours before bed → AVOID ALCOHOL
Don’t drink alcohol before bed. Or too much of anything else, for that matter! Though alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel sleepy, it can wake you up in the middle of the night. Especially if you have to pee!
Research says it disrupts slow-wave sleep. It can cause sleep fragmentation and actually lead to nightmares. Explains all those college episodes, huh?
2-3 hours before bed → EAT DINNER EARLIER
Eating just before bed can cause a number of issues. Any discomfort, however slight, will decrease your chances of a good night’s sleep. The sugar rush can also wake you up! (It’s not great for your waistline, either.)
Rich, fatty foods are harder for the stomach to digest. The heavier the food, the more conscious of it you’ll be, making it harder to fall asleep. And be wary of spicy foods — heartburn is just as unpleasant at night as it is during the day
Alright, so you’re a pretty big late night snack fan? Then keep it to carbohydrates and tryptophan. That means a small turkey sandwich or some low-sugar cereal or granola. Nothing too heavy!
2 hours before bed → EXERCISE
Exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to turn into an Olympic athlete — just 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise (the heart-pounding kind) can help you sleep better. Break it up into smaller chunks if that’s better for your schedule; you’ll still reap the benefits.
If possible, work out in the late afternoon, but before dinner. If you work out within 4 hours of going to bed, it could just rev you up.
1 hour before bed → ELECTRONICS
Stay away from lit electronics. The more time you spend in front of the TV, your iPad, or your phone, the more your mind will be thinking, “Wait, is it still daytime?!” Two or three hours before bed, disconnect. Your body needs to slip into nighttime mode, and these things prevent it.
When you go to read before bed, don’t use a backlit product. Your bedside lamp should be fine, but that electronic glow won’t do you any favors.
1 hour before bed → STRESS
Check your stress at the door. Spending the day frustrated, nervous, irritated or just plain stressed will seep into your night routine. If you have troubles sleeping at night, could this be a cause? What could you do to reduce it?
Manage your stress by taking time to do yoga, a relaxing hobby, or just five minutes to yourself each day to focus on your breathing. If it’s a bigger issue, consider seeking professional help.
Sources and Citations:
7. National Sleep Foundation