It often happens that we cannot fix a situation because everything we do, even though it is done with good intentions, only ends up making things worse. And so, we find ourselves drinking yet another cup of coffee to wake up, because we haven’t slept a wink the night before, but it’s a decision that does not change the problem and leads to another sleepless night.
Sleeping is delicate alchemy of habits, lifestyles, external stimuli and the need for a mental and physical balance. Let’s take a look at what are the most common mistakes that can negatively affect the quality (and quantity) of our sleep.
Nutrition: what not to eat and drink at night
1. Alcohol: alcoholic beverages tend to have a “dazing” effect and induce drowsiness, but they also alter our sleep and make it less refreshing
2. Stimulants: it’s obvious that we should avoid hyper-stimulating beverages like energy drinks for instance, and even a cup of coffee or tea at night may affect our sleep and accelerate our heartbeat
3. Large meals: too much food causes our digestive system to work on overload because our body needs to process and digest what we had for dinner, and this can make us feel unwell.
Sports: when to practice them, which ones and for how long
4. Competitive sports: if you want to sleep well, it’s a good idea to avoid participating in competitive sports events, as they are normally scheduled at night. The toxins produced by our body, the sense of fatigue, lactic acid and the adrenaline rush after the match may keep you awake until early morning
5. Sports involving physical contact: boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and “martial” arts can leave us with unpleasant repercussions like body aches or bruises that affect the quality of our sleep
6. Swimming: if practiced leisurely, swimming is the best-suited sport to practice at night, because it helps the body and mind to relax, stimulates the entire body and induces a sense of calmness when you step into the water that lasts long after you’re done swimming
The bedroom: how to decorate it on the outside (and inside)
7. Colors: a bedroom with fluorescent colors that are like a punch in the eye or full of stark contrasts will not help you to relax. The same holds true for walls painted in light colors but using toxic paints. It’s always best to opt for “mild” color combinations and natural paints
8. Electronic devices: radios TVs, PCs and cellphones not only produce electric smog but also keep our mind “shackled” to the alert state we have during the daytime (smartphones especially), preventing us from disconnecting from our daily routine, which is instead essential in order for us to be gently lulled to sleep
9. Temperature: a bedroom that is too hot and with poor air circulation is a serious threat to our sleep. The temperature in the bedroom should be a bit lower than in the other rooms of the house, and it’s also a good idea to “clear the air out” in the room before you tuck yourself under the sheets.
Clothing: what to wear and not to wear
10. Pajamas: synthetic fabrics or overly rigid inserts prevent the body from fully relaxing, both because it doesn’t get enough transpiration and also because the body is forced to assume unnatural positions to compensate
11. Underwear: socks, underwear and bras that are too “tight” seriously threaten proper blood circulation, which is why “baggy” underwear garments are better or going totally naked
12. Jewelry: rings and bracelets, but even wristwatches are better left on the bedside table, because our circulatory system and lymph nodes may suffer from them (along the same lines of what we mentioned about the choice of underwear).