Our clocks may have recently "fallen back," giving us an extra hour of sleep, but for some that just means one extra hour of restlessness. Few things are more stressful than tossing and turning all night without the ability to fully drift off and enjoy that time spent curled up in bed. Catching those eight hours of z's is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, but some very common habits (e.g., that extra drink at happy hour) are wreaking havoc on that precious snooze time. While sleep disorders are something to speak to your doctor about, we spoke with doctors about the importance of curbing these common sleep mistakes women make, and we were surprised by nearly all of them.
Keep scrolling to read about the top mistakes women make when it comes to sleep.
We all know that diet affects everything when it comes to our well-being, and yes, this includes your precious pillowtime. Jordan Stern, MD, of BlueSleep stresses the importance of paying attention to meals when it comes to dinner or midnight snacking. "Eating a heavy meal, especially one with fatty foods and containing acid—like tomato sauces—you cause you to suffer from acid reflux," he says. "This not only causes brain arousals and awakenings but can also cause snoring." While you don't need to write off pasta, avoiding acid reflux naturally before hitting the sack is one small step toward getting a good night's sleep.
It's not uncommon for people to use night guards, but an ill-fitting one is a major mistake you want to avoid, says Michael Gelb, DDS, MS: "Fifty percent of night guards actually disrupt sleep. A properly adjusted night guard maintains an open airway and can improve sleep architecture and oxygen levels." Gelb suggests consulting with your dentist to figure out the right solution and adds that nasal strips can help improve the quality of sleep.
Just as many of us suspected, going a little too far at happy hour can interfere with sleep. Sure, a nightcap can help us unwind and aid in sleepiness, but Stern reminds us that alcohol-induced dehydration can lead to restlessness in addition to "feeling dehydrated, sweaty, and unable to fall back asleep." Booze can also lead to snoring or, worse, sleep apnea. "Sleep apnea is very common, even in women. It causes interruptions in breathing and drops in oxygen to the brain, the heart, and the skin."
When it comes to bed companions, "loud, continual snoring is not just annoying; it is frequently associated with sleep apnea, a killer disease that affects up to 30% of the adult population," says Stern. Who knew your partner could be messing with your sleep this much? While there is no need to kick your bedmate to another room or opt for the couch, Stern suggests making time for a power nap during the day. Easier said than done, but he adds, "Hundreds of medical studies confirm the beneficial effects of napping for your overall health and well-being. Try to keep it under 20 minutes and at least five hours before bedtime."
Were you surprised to learn about the habits that could be interfering with a good night's sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments.