You check Facebook right before bed
iStock/HStocks 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
iStock/elenaleonova 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.
You brush your teeth right before bed
iStock/PeopleImages We’ve all been there: You can barely keep your eyes open on the couch, so you get ready for bed. But by the time you’ve brushed your teeth, you have a second wind. What gives? For one thing, those bright bathroom lights that are great for doing makeup can signal your brain to wake up. Plus, the energizing taste of peppermint could also rev you up. That’s no excuse to skip brushing your teeth at night though. “If you’re struggling with this, try brushing your teeth early,” says Dr. Winter. Brush your teeth during a commercial break instead of after your show, he suggests. You could also swap out that zingy peppermint toothpaste for a milder one at night (though that minty one could help wake you up again in the morning), says Dr. Winter. Still awake? Find out why people started counting sheep to fall asleep.