When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, what you do during the day is as important as yourevening ritual. “Lavender, CBD, weighted blankets and sleeping pills are only coping mechanisms. The real reason people can’t sleep is that they have sleep-sabotaging habits during the day as well as limiting beliefs around sleeping,” says Bianca Riemer, a sleep and burnout coach who helps high achievers overcome insomnia.
While turning your bedroom into a relaxation haven and avoiding screens before bed is a good idea, proper sleep hygiene actually begins when you open your eyes. And there are a lot of daily habits that may be having a negative impact on your sleep without you even realizing it. Ready to get proper rest on a regular basis so you can crush it at work? Avoid doing the six things below.
1. Having a negative mindset about sleep and your career
Riemer, a former stockbroker who is familiar with the fatigue that can accompany high-pressure jobs, says that some examples of limiting beliefs people have around sleep include things like “You can sleep when you’re dead” “Sleep is for the weak” and “You can only succeed in this job if you can survive on less than six hours of sleep.” These beliefs cause more harm than good, as they subconsciously prevent your natural ability to catch some ZZZs.
2. Wearing sunglasses on your way to work
Your circadian rhythm is the natural internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. And since it’s affected by light, you need exposure to daylight as soon as you wake up in order for it to function optimally. What does that have to do with sunglasses? The light needs to hit your eyes to send the message to your brain that it’s the start of a new day. “If you drive to work and need to wear sunglasses, calculate some extra time to go for a walk outside without shades,” says Riemer.
3. Waking up at different times every day
Bad news for those who like to play as hard as they work: Sleeping in on weekends could be ruining your sleep. “Ever wonder why you sleep so badly on Sunday night? Because you have social jet lag from sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday morning,” says Riemer. Try maintaining a consistent sleep schedule regardless of whether you have to be at the office or not.
4. Not having breakfast and/or having a massive meal before bed
Your diet also has an influence on your circadian rhythm. Eating breakfast as soon as you wake up helps keep your body on a regular schedule by giving it the signal the day is starting. In a similar vein, having a massive meal before bed will disrupt your natural cycle. Riemer recommends having your last meal at least two hours before hitting the sheets.
5. Skipping work breaks
“Don’t allow stress to pile up during the day and then expect it all to evaporate an hour before bed. De-stress during the day and it will be easier to unwind in the evening,” says Riemer. Even if your day is packed with back-to-back meetings and commitments, aim to take short walk breaks and avoid having lunch at your desk. Not convinced you can afford breaks? Remember that being well-rested will actually improve your overall performance and productivity. You can be less stressed and get more done.
6. Doing cardio in the evening
Regular exercise is crucial for your health, so this is no reason to ditch your workouts. Just schedule any intense cardio sessions during the day, since cardio can increase your cortisol levels and prevent you from snoozing.
7. Having sugar, caffeine, and alcohol
Sugar, coffee, and alcohol can be so comforting in the moment. But these treats come with a cost when it comes to your sleep quality. Try curbing your intake — especially in the afternoon and evening. “Consuming sugar leads to blood sugar spikes and crashes, and that can cause you to wake up during the night as the body produces cortisol to deal with a blood sugar crash,” says Riemer.