Evening Habits That Are Messing With Your Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Stuck tossing and turning when it's time to sleep? Discover some surprising ways that you might be shortchanging your shuteye in the hours leading up to bedtime—and how to reverse course.

You eat dinner too late.

Late work hours can lead to late-night dining. But eating like you're in Europe doesn't make for quality sleep. That's because your body does its best digestion when you're upright—not curled up in bed. Going to bed with a full stomach makes you seven times more likely to suffer from uncomfortable issues like acid reflux or heartburn that can keep you awake.

You watch TV in bed.

Exercise is great for your sleep. TV marathons, on the other hand? Not so much. Not only does the availability of endless episodes mean serious temptation to keep watching past your bedtime, but the blue light that the TV emits can disrupt your body's natural melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep when it's time.

You go to sleep with your smartphone.

Phones and tablets bring the same sleep-evading blue light into your bedroom as TV. But that's not the only reason they can disrupt sleep. Checking your e-mail or scanning Facebook or other social media sites before bed can be a recipe for getting riled up with work stress or political posts—none of which is conducive to restful sleep.

Your midnight snack is sugar-central.

Munching on cookies may seem innocent enough, but all that refined sugar can take a toll on your sleep. The inevitable sugar crash may leave you feeling ready to turn in, but excess sugar can also cause middle-of-the-night awakenings. And that sets the stage for bleary-eyed mornings.

You toss and turn for hours.

Staying in bed when you can't sleep doesn't help you get the rest that you need, and it could create an unhealthy association between stress and your bed. Instead, try a breathing or relaxation exercise. If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing away from the bedroom, and then try again when you feel drowsy.