Going to bed too early
welcomia/Shutterstock If you slept poorly the night before, you may want to slide into bed ahead of schedule. But this can actually make sleeplessness worse. People with insomnia frequently have irregular sleep-wake cycles. Sticking with a consistent sleep routine—a regular bedtime, and a regular wake time—strengthens your body’s circadian rhythms and the biological cues (like melatonin release) that help you fall asleep. Hitting the sack unusually early may garner you some “extra” sleep in the early part of the night, but you’re likely to wake up earlier than normal, throwing your sleep routine even more off-kilter. Aim to have your bedtime deviate by no more than 30 minutes from one night to the next. Here’s how to naturally reset your sleep cycle.
Getting in bed before you’re sleepy
Realstock/Shutterstock I recently had a patient who was often anxious and alert at bedtime—she described the feeling as “wired and tired.” She’d crawl into bed anyway, and lie wide awake late for an hour or more, frustrated and sleepless. I recommended she delay her bedtime until she felt ready to fall asleep. A restless, wired mind is one symptom of sleep deprivation. Learn to recognize the difference between being tired and being sleepy—and hold off going to bed until you feel ready to nod off. Take some extra time with your nightly routine, or find other ways to relax away from bright lights and screens near your face. These are the 12 other healthy habits you should always do at night.