The Bad Habits You Don't Realise Are Ruining Your Sleep

And what to do instead

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It's midnight on Sunday and now you're in bed, trashing your way through various sleeping positions, desperately spinning like a rotisserie chicken. 

Nothing is working. Every time you grope for your phone in the dark you bargain with yourself that one more Dimitar Berbatov's Greatest Goals video can't hurt. But with every effortless strike, Monday morning is coming for you.

You're not alone. With the majority of Britons getting just 5-6 hours  and 22% of us complaining of sleeping poorly most nights, we are heading towards a sleep epidemic.

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But why? Long ago we caught on that smashing a vindaloo and six Singhas at 10pm isn't the best lullaby, but what else are we doing wrong? 

Turns out, plenty. Be mindful of the following bad habits, and try and phase them out to reclaim your 40 winks.

Your love affair with the snooze button

Because your brain works in sleep cycles, snoozing your alarm often means you're getting into a deeper state of sleep and then disrupting it. This is why every time you delay your alarm you feel more exhausted, and why you might feel like you've been run over when you finally do get up. A possible solution? The Walk Me Up app forces you to complete eight steps before it can be silenced. Just try not to throw your phone the window.

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Those 2pm Saturday lie-ins

Often we think catching up on missed sleep on Saturday will set us in good stead for the week ahead. Wrong. By disrupting your weekly pattern you will normally fall asleep later that evening and always find waking up on Monday morning harder having broken your routine. Try to stay vigilant with waking up at the same time, even if you're still drunk from the night before.

Attempting a moonlit marathon

Tiring yourself out with exercise in order to sleep seems to make sense: the key is knowing how much of it to do and understanding how your body responds to exertion. Studies have shown that getting 150 minutes of exercise a week greatly improves your sleep quality overall, but be mindful of when you do it. Jogging, yoga and swimming are great for winding down - charging the steps at Waterloo station like Rocky not so much. If you are exercising late, allow enough time for your heart-rate and body temperate to return to normal. 

Late night reporting your ex's Instagram account

We all know we shouldn't use electronics before bed time but there's an awful lot of people still posting #ThrowbackThursday photos at 11:45pm. Electronic devices emit blue light which suppress melatonin - the hormone that helps us sleep - so avoid them in the evening. If this is too draconian for your viewing habits (or job), a realistic swap is F.lux, a plug in for your computer, tablet and phone which adjusts the hue of your screen to match the time of day and protect your eyes.

Your lunchtime latte habit

The reason most of us drink caffeine is to wake up so avoiding it may sound a little obvious, but a recent survey suggests it may be even worse than we thought, finding that coffee can disrupt your sleep up to 6 hours after consumption. If you need your fix, start with your day with a strong cup and tweak your dosage downwards. Then stop.

Pretending you're lord of time

The relief when you wake up to find it is 5 - not 7 - in the morning, buying you another stretch in the sack, is a beautiful thing. Conversely, rolling around all night doing calculations on how long you have left in bed won't help you at all. Invest in an alarm clock that isn't your phone and doesn't glaringly display the time all night.