Most people know that they should get more sleep, but not everyone knows how. A lot of times, poor sleep quality or not getting enough sleep can actually be traced back to bad bedtime habits. The good news? Recent studies have shown that it may only take 21-66 days to form a new habit. So here’s a list of three things to try to make (or break) a habit for healthy sleep.
Scrolling Before Bed
Most people know that spending time on your phone right before bed is a bad idea, but everyone’s guilty of this habit. Not only can playing around on your phone upset you emotionally (a controversial Facebook post, a distressing news headline) but it can also keep you awake physically.
The blue light coming from your phone can suppress the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone in your body that helps regulate your circadian rhythm, or your natural sleep-wake cycle (among other things). So instead of pulling out your phone, try putting it away 30-60 minutes before you plan to be asleep and try reading a book, having a conversation, or otherwise spending some quiet time.
Grinding Your Teeth
Not everyone may know if they grind their teeth at night. According to the Mayo Clinic, bruxism, or teeth grinding, can lead to headaches, clenched jaws, and damaged teeth. Grinding your teeth can degrade your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more sensitive. Most of the time, people outgrow bruxism.
Teeth grinding is considered a sleep-related movement disorder, but it isn’t always serious enough to merit treatment. If you feel that you may have a serious case though, consult with the medical professionals in your life. In severe cases, dentists can give you splints or mouth guards to help with teeth grinding.
Not Having a Bedtime
Back to being creatures of habit…the third tip for getting better sleep is to set a bedtime. Setting a bedtime can help your body “learn” to wake up and wind down at the same time every day. The thought of going to bed at the same time on weekdays and weekends can sound, well, a bit boring, but it really does help establish a better routine.
If the thought of integrating any of these habit patterns is too overwhelming, start small, start by putting your phone up early and going to bed on time 3 days out of the week, and then slowly make your way to five days or even seven. You’ll soon see improvement—slow and steady wins the race!
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