When your alarm clock goes off, do you hop out of bed feeling ready to meet the day? Or do you hit the snooze button and roll over trying to figure out how to stay in bed just a little longer because you’re so tired?
When it comes to catching your ZZZs, it’s not just about quantity. "It’s about the quality of your sleep, too," says sleep medicine expert Michael Breus, PhD.
Luckily, you can outmaneuver the most common sleep wreckers that block you from getting a good night's rest. In fact, you can get started doing that tonight.
Sleep Wrecker #1: Your Glass of Wine After Dinner
Many people think that a nightcap is just the thing they need to help them relax and fall asleep. But it can backfire.
"Alcohol does make you feel sleepy initially," Breus says. But as your body breaks it down, "it can have a stimulating effect, keeping you out of the deeper stages of sleep, or even causing you to wake often throughout the night."
Do this: You don’t have to swear off alcohol altogether. But don’t drink right before bedtime.
"It takes about an hour to digest one alcoholic beverage," Breus says. So if you’ve had two glasses of wine by 10 p.m., it may keep you from a restful sleep until midnight or later.
Sleep Wrecker #2: Your Smartphone
Electronic devices, including laptops, cellphones, and TVs, all give off light that can mess with your body’s production of melatonin. "Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep at night," says Robert Rosenberg, DO, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day.
Do this: Keep your phone in the kitchen or den at night to recharge. Don't keep it on your nightstand, where you'll be tempted to check it just before lights out. "And no electronics for at least 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime," Rosenberg says.
Sleep Wrecker #3: Your Bedtime Snack
Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates (think chips or pretzels) can cause a quick rise in your blood sugar, Rosenberg says. "Your body then responds with a surge of insulin, causing a drop in blood sugar. That’s then countered by the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline," he says. "This seesawing back and forth can make it very hard to fall and stay asleep."
Do this: A small snack at night is fine. But ditch the chips for a healthy carbohydrate combined with some protein, Rosenberg says. Some good choices include almond or peanut butter on a whole wheat cracker, shredded wheat and milk, or a banana and yogurt.