Tossing and turning all night when you desperately want to sleep is an actual nightmare. While there are loads of hacks out there – see paradoxical intention, the TikTok ice hack, and the 4-7-8 technique – to help you nod off, sometimes you just can’t go wrong with a bit of expert advice.
It turns out that there are plenty of bad habits we’ve picked up that can wreak havoc on our precious beauty sleep. If you’re a fan of a midnight TikTok scroll, you pay want to pay particularly close attention.
Here are a few bad nighttime habits experts want you to break, ASAP:
1. You don’t have a regular bedtime
In a perfect world, you’d go to bed at the same time every night and strive to get the recommended amount of sleep. That’s seven to nine hours for people ages 18 to 64 and seven to eight hours for those 65 and older, according to the USA’s National Sleep Foundation.
“A regular bedtime is a component of a normal circadian rhythm, which governs the times of day you are naturally more tired,” says Jesse Mindel, MD, assistant clinical professor of neurology and sleep medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Throwing off your rhythm by constantly going to sleep at different times can make you feel sleepier when you’re awake and have more trouble falling asleep when you’re ready, Dr Mindel explains.
Some bedtime variation is OK, like dozing off at 10.45PM instead of your usual 10.30. But, in general, you should try not to deviate from your usual sleep schedule by more than an hour or two, the National Sleep Foundation recommends.
2. You don’t put down your phone until the moment you close your eyes
Sometimes it might feel truly impossible to pry yourself away from your phone until right before you conk out, like if there’s a breaking news alert or when a heartbroken friend is texting you. But if this is you every night—and you’re struggling to fall asleep when you do decide it’s bedtime — it’s a problem.
One main issue here is that you’re exposing yourself to excessive light, especially the blue light that your phone emits, which can mess with your circadian rhythm and make it hard to fall asleep when you should.
Another potential hiccup: You might tell yourself you’re just going to check the weather before bed, then an hour later, you’re on the Wikipedia page for the celebrity you were obsessed with in middle school. It’s all too easy to allow your phone to keep you awake — and mentally stimulated — for longer than you intended, board-certified sleep medicine researcher and neurologist W. Christopher Winter MD, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of the book, The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It, tells SELF. “That can make it harder to go to sleep when you’re ready,” he says. Try not to use your phone (or other electronic devices) for at least an hour before you want to go to bed.
3. You leave your phone next to your bed
On a related note, even when you put your phone down, leaving it right next to your bed isn’t a great idea, Dr Winter says. It’s distracting and can keep you from getting to sleep thanks to late-night texts from friends, email alerts, and social media pings. Even if your phone is on silent, the simple temptation of having it there when you can’t sleep may be overwhelming.