You catch up on sleep during the weekend
Without enough shuteye, you start building up a “sleep debt” during the week, says W. Christopher Winter, MD, president of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Clinic and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It. Sleeping in on the weekend can make up for some of that lost sleep, but too much could mess up your body’s sleep cycle. If you stay in bed until noon on Sunday, you’ll be tossing and turning when you crawl in bed that night. “You don’t have to make it all back in one big gulp,” says Dr. Winter. “Keep an eye out for how you’re going to sleep the next night.” There’s nothing wrong with snoozing a couple of extra hours on the weekend, but set an alarm to make sure you don’t overdo it with sleeping, he says.
You check Facebook right before bed
Your body has a circadian rhythm that determines when to sleep and wake up. The cycle naturally lasts about 24 hours, and the brain uses light to figure out whether you should be awake. “Bright light is used as a very powerful time cue to influence the brain into believing it’s a certain time of day,” says Dr. Kline. Low light after sundown signals the body to produce sleep-inducing melatonin. But your brain doesn’t know the difference between sunlight and light from your phone, TV, and even lamps, so you might stay wired if you use that technology close to bedtime, says Dr. Kline. Experts recommend turning electronics off two hours before bed, but if that’s not realistic, try cutting down where you can, says Dr. Winter. For instance, watch TV in a dark living room rather than streaming Netflix from your laptop in bed, he suggests. You could also wear sunglasses that block out blue light.
You read in bed to fall asleep
Don’t be surprised if you have trouble nodding off, even after you’ve tried winding down with a book. Doing activities like reading or watching TV in bed can keep your body from realizing it’s time for sleep. “You don’t want to associate the bed with activities associated with wakefulness,” says Dr. Kline. Using an eReader is a double whammy, says Dr. Winter. Like a phone screen, the light from an eReader can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime, so use a real book instead. Attach a lamp to the wall or bed behind you so the light is indirect on the pages and not shining up at your face, says Dr. Winter.