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5 Bad Habits that Make it Harder to Fall Asleep at Night

by Ann Ferguson

Not sleeping at night is no one's idea of fun. And trying to find out what's causing your lack of good sleep can be like trying to decipher a complex code. But sometimes it's much simpler; sometimes your daytime habits are the problem!

Several habits can negatively affect your sleep, including too much screen time or eating a large meal before bed. We'll go through five of the most common causes of bad sleep, so you can find out which one is your culprit!

1. Napping

Man napping in a hammock outside

You might not think it, but sometimes napping can cause insufficient sleep. This is especially true if you take long naps that exceed 90 minutes or find yourself napping in the evening. And while napping like this feels good in the moment, you're actually disrupting your natural sleep order. Your body can't figure out when it's time to sleep!

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't nap ever; just keep your naps short (90 minutes at the longest) and schedule them between 1 pm and 3 pm.

2. Irregular Bedtime Schedule

Woman staring at alarm clock in disbelief

One of the worst habits you can do for your sleep is keeping an inconsistent bedtime. When you consistently get up and sleep at different times every day, you completely disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythm.

Your natural circadian rhythm will typically use signals, like daylight, to indicate when to keep awake. But if you train yourself to sleep at all hours, your rhythm won't know when it's time to go to bed. So, make sure to get into a good sleep routine with a consistent bedtime every night (yes, even during the weekend!).

Pro Tip: Ease into your sleep routine by going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes earlier every day for a week.

3. Blue Light

Fully dressed man sleeping on a couch in front of a TV

Speaking of disrupting your natural circadian rhythm, too much exposure to blue light before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. By blue light, we mean the light that emits from screens like TVs, tablets, smartphones, etc. The more your brain sees blue light, the more signals it receives that it's time to be awake — even if you specifically watch something to help you fall asleep, your brain still sees it as awake time.

This happens because blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. So, try to avoid screens at least 30 minutes before it's time to go to bed.

Pro Tip: As part of your wind down routine, try reading a physical book to get you away from screens and into a calmer state of mind.

4. Big Heavy Meals

Eating a big, heavy meal before bed can also make it harder to fall asleep. That's because your body is working hard to digest the food, which can prevent you from falling asleep. A full bladder or stomach is uncomfortable, and even if you don't feel too full right when you lie down, as your stomach digests, that can quickly change as you wake up to use the restroom.

And if you had a particularly spicy or hearty meal, you can provoke heartburn symptoms when you lie down and be even more uncomfortable. To fix this habit, stop eating at least three hours before bed to give you plenty of time to digest your food and sleep more easily. But if you're really hungry and can't sleep because of it, consider a light snack, like your favorite fruit or a small yogurt.

5. Too Much Exercise

Man exercising at night

You've probably heard that exercise is good for sleep, but if you exercise too close to bedtime, it can actually make it harder to fall asleep. That's because exercise raises your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, so your body thinks it's time to stay awake.

Instead, keep your daily exercise to earlier in the day. But if you only have room in your schedule for later at night, keep your workout routine to at least one hour before bedtime, and don't do anything too vigorous. Stick to something low impact like yoga, so you don't feel overly worked up (or sweaty!).

Find Your Sleep

Now that you know which bad sleep habits to watch out for, look over your daytime routine and see if any of these might be the culprit. But if none of these cause your bad sleep, your mattress might be the problem! Don't worry; you can find what you need at Westco Home Furnishings and be on your way to good sleep.

And if you have any questions, please give our team a call or stop by!