1. Eat Greasy or High-Fat Foods: Greasy, heavy fatty foods not only make you feel sluggish the next morning, but also make your stomach work overtime to digest all that food, causing discomfort that can make it difficult to sleep. Stay away from fast food, ice cream, and these other foods right before bed.
2. Stare at a Screen: Surfing the web on your laptop or iPad in bed is what many people do right before saying goodnight, but the blue light these devices emit stimulates the brain, making it harder for the body to unwind, relax, and sense that it’s time for bed. Even watching your favorite show on TV can cost you a good night’s sleep. If you want to get lost in something, open a relaxing book, or meditate instead.
3. Do Intense Cardio: Exercising regularly is the key to sleeping well at night, but hitting the gym right before you’re about to snooze isn’t the best idea. Aside from needing to eat right after, it revs up your heart rate and your energy levels, making it difficult for your body and mind to settle down enough to fall asleep. For a better night of Z’s, finish your workout three hours before you plan to hit the hay.
4. Work Late: If you have a big meeting in the morning or a project due at the end of the week, getting some work done after dinner may ease your mind. Just be sure to put your work away at least an hour before going to sleep to give your brain a break, so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow’s deadlines.
5. Drink Caffeine: The caffeine found in coffee, tea, and even chocolate is a stimulant that can keep you up longer than you planned. How much caffeine your body can handle depends on you, but a good rule of thumb is to put that cup of joe down a few hours before bed. The same goes for alcohol. Drinking a glass of vino too close to bedtime – or drinking two or three – will prevent you from having a restful night of sleep (even if you pass out fast).
6. Get Emotionally Wound Up: Bickering with your sister on the phone, watching a disturbing show on TV, or reading an emotionally taxing book isn’t exactly helping you on the road to relaxation. Prevent getting your nerves and emotions wound up by engaging in calming activities like reading a light novel, sipping herbal tea, taking a hot bath, or doing some of these gentle stretches in bed.