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11 mistakes you're making before you go to bed

11 mistakes you're making before you go to bed
  • The United Health Foundation reported that 35.5% of Americans aren't getting enough sleep.

  • It's important to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits.

  • From too much caffeine to ill-timed exercise, Americans make a lot of mistakes before going to bed.

They say the key to a good day is a good night's sleep.

Unfortunately, 35.5% of Americans sleep fewer than the recommended seven hours per day, on average, according to America's Health Rankings' analysis of 2022 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Additionally, 13.5% of adults over 18 described feeling tired most days, the National Council on Aging reported in January.

While enough sleep may not seem like a priority — or a possibility — for many adults, it's incredibly important for preserving your health, as sleep deficiency is linked to diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease, and other serious health conditions, reported the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

So, although most of us aren't striving to be like the CEOs taking ice baths and going to bed before 10 p.m., there's still plenty of room to improve our night routines.

Here are 11 mistakes you might be making before bed, and what you should do instead to sleep longer and feel better throughout the day.

You're not relaxing enough.

People walking through Central Park.
People walking through Central Park.Gary Hershorn/Contributor/Getty Images

If you're jumping straight from work into bed — and still thinking about work while you're doing it — you're probably not preparing yourself for a good night's rest.

Throughout the day, your body produces a hormone called cortisol that helps control things like metabolism, blood pressure, and your sleep-wake cycle, but it is also known as the stress hormone.

Naturally, your cortisol levels are higher in the morning to help you wake up and lower in the evening to help you sleep. So, if your cortisol levels are too high at night, you can experience effects like shortened or broken sleep and insomnia, Healthline reported.

High cortisol levels can be caused by stress, so taking time to relax can be an important component of getting better sleep. Research suggests certain relaxing activities before bed — such as listening to soothing music or trying deep-breathing techniques — could help.

You're consuming too much caffeine.

A cup of coffee with a latte art heart.
A cup of coffee with a latte art heart.Faisal Khan/Contributor/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In 2023, the medical journal Sleep Medicine Reviews published a study on the effects of caffeine on subsequent sleep and found that consuming caffeine reduced total sleep time by 45 minutes and sleep efficiency by 7%.

As a result, the study's authors recommended consuming coffee and pre-workout supplements about 9 hours and 13 hours before bedtime, respectively.

While that is sad news for our afternoon energy drinks, there's a variety of healthy energy-boosting snacks, like peanut butter and celery, you can try instead.

You're planning your days the morning of, instead of the night before.

A woman wearing a gold ring and bracelet writes in a notebook.
A woman writing in a notebook.Zhang Peng/Contributor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Technically, there's nothing wrong with planning your day when you start work, but why not get ahead?

Dr. Meena Khan, a neurologist and sleep expert at Ohio State University, told Business Insider in 2023 that people can have trouble sleeping because they're still worrying about their day.

"Just sit down and write down a list of things that are bothering you, a list of things you have to do, so you're going through it before bed rather than processing it in bed," she said.

Psychology Today also reported that using daily planners can help improve time management, increase productivity, and reduce stress, in addition to other benefits.

You're drinking alcohol too close to bedtime.

A glass of wine with the bottle presented next to it.
A glass of wine with the bottle presented next to it.David Silverman/Contributor/Getty Images

Alcohol may be a sedative, but that doesn't mean your last glass of wine is actually good for your sleep pattern.

In 2022, medical professionals told The New York Times that alcohol can activate the body throughout the night, waking you up and making it harder to fall back to sleep. You may also experience vivid, stressful dreams and have to use the bathroom more frequently as a result of drinking alcohol.

To help prevent these issues, the Sleep Foundation recommends you stop consuming alcohol at least four hours before sleeping.

You're scheduling your workout routine too late at night.

Women on the Republic of Ireland's women's national team riding stationary bikes.
Women on the Republic of Ireland's women's national team riding stationary bikes.Stephen McCarthy/Contributor/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, since working out is a stimulating activity, it's recommended that people avoid exercising too close to their planned bedtimes.

"The effect of exercise in some people is like taking a hot shower that wakes you up in the morning," said Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital.

Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that working out can increase your core body temperature, which signals to your body that it should be awake, in turn making it harder to sleep. Aerobic exercises can also release endorphins, which stimulate the brain and make it more challenging to fall asleep.

In 2018, Dr. Karen Joubert, PT, DPT, told Business Insider that people should "try and avoid exercise two to three hours prior to bedtime."

You're making your room too hot.

A thermostat is set to 69 degrees.
A thermostat is set to 69 degrees.Smith Collection/Gado/Contributor/Getty Images

While increasing your core body temperature makes it harder to sleep, decreasing your core temperature can make falling asleep easier.

Healthline reported that your body naturally reduces its core temperature at night, so reducing your environment's temperature to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit will be best for mimicking that process and improving sleep.

You're eating dinner and dessert within three hours of your bedtime.

A birds eye view of cookies and milk.
Cookies and milk.Ben McCanna/Contributor/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Even the best of us can have a hard time resisting a late-night snack, but research has found that eating too close to your bedtime can negatively impact your sleep schedule.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported in 2020 that eating within three hours of falling asleep was positively associated with waking up during the night.

The British Journal of Nutrition found similar results after analyzing 2003-2018 data from the American Time Use Survey, stating that women and men who ate or drank within an hour of going to bed experienced increased "wake after sleep onset."

"Eating too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep, mostly because it gets your stomach acids going, and lying down can cause those acids to go up into your throat," Dr. Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH, told Business Insider in 2018.

You haven't implemented a "closing shift" before bed.

A woman does dishes in the kitchen sink.
A woman does dishes in the kitchen sink.Annette Riedl/Contributor/picture alliance via Getty Images

Apparently, a "closing shift" isn't just for work; It's great for homes, too. #closingshift has over 490 million views on TikTok and often features creators detailing their evening clean-up routines, with aesthetic clips of washing dishes, cleaning countertops, and vacuuming.

While we know it's not ever really that glamorous (or even necessary on some nights), aiming to implement your own version of a quick closing shift could be helpful in reducing stress.

In 2021, the Cleveland Clinic published a podcast episode with Dr. Dawn Potter, a clinical psychologist, on the connections between cleaning and mental health.

"For a lot of people heaving a clean and organized home can help them feel in control. It can help them with their day-to-day routine. They know where everything is. Everything is straightforward. And there's also just a peace of mind from having an aesthetically pleasing place to wake up in and return to at the end of your workday, or if you're working from home, of course, just to have your workday feel smooth and organized and put together," she said.

You're not planning your outfits.

Woman looking for clothes.
Woman looking for clothes.Nikolas Kokovlis/Contributor/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Let's be honest: No one likes the stress of finding out their favorite shirt is dirty, their slacks are wrinkled, or their tie is missing.

Just like a nightly clean-up, planning your outfits before bed can be a consistent part of your night routine that helps eliminate a potentially stress-inducing scenario.

This way, you can focus your energy on more important things and help prevent decision fatigue, a term the American Medical Association defines as "a state of mental overload that can impede a person's ability to continue making decisions."

Carolyn Mair, a fashion business consultant and author of "The Psychology of Fashion," told Byrdie in 2023 that she recommends choosing an outfit the night before. "We might be more relaxed in the evening than in the morning, and so we might even be able to make a better choice of outfit," she said.

Plus, you'll get to sleep in.

You're forgetting to wash your face.

A woman washes her face in the sink.
A woman washes her face in the sink.Universal Images Group via Getty Images

After a long day, it's understandable that you'd forget your nighttime skincare, but washing your face should be a non-negotiable part of your routine, just like brushing your teeth.

New York City-based dermatologist Hadley King told BI in January, "Cleansing before bed is generally recommended not only to remove makeup but also dirt and pollution that accumulates on our skin during the day."

So, as tired as you may be, at least try to remember to do a simple cleanse.

And, of course, you're using screens directly before sleeping.

A photo illustration where a man sits in bed and watches his laptop with headphones on in the dark while a woman sleeps next to him with a sleep mask.
A man watches his laptop in bed at night while a woman sleeps next to him.Ute Grabowsky/Contributor/Photothek via Getty Images

The National Sleep Foundation's 2022 Sleep in America Poll reported that 58% of Americans looked at screens within an hour before sleeping.

But why's that a problem?

Electronics like phones, computers, and TVs emit blue light, which has a shorter wavelength and higher energy than other forms of light, causing more alertness. The exposure stimulates your brain into thinking it's daytime, so it slows — or even stops — the production of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleeping.

While dark mode or blue-light glasses may help this issue, some experts say the best solution is to avoid screen time for at least one hour before bed.

Plus, think of how often you've told yourself, "Just one more episode of 'Love is Blind'" or "Just five more minutes of TikTok" before realizing it was 3 a.m.

The screen spirals simply aren't worth it.

Read the original article on Business Insider