I'm A Behavioral Sleep Doctor & These Are 4 Things I'd Never Do Before Bed
We've all heard tips for getting to bed faster: dimming the lights, turning the temperature down, maybe even taking a sleep supplement, etc. But along with incorporating good sleep hygiene habits, we also have to get rid of the bad ones—which is why we asked sleep specialist Shelby Harris Psyd, DBSM—the director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis and author of Women's Guide to Overcoming Insomnia—for her absolute no-no's when it comes to bedtime. Here's what she had to say:
Stare at a screen.
Harris says you definitely don't want to be staring at screens within half an hour of when you'd like to go to bed. Not only can the blue light from your phone, TV, or laptop be stimulating to your eyes and detrimental to your melatonin levels, but let's be honest—anything you're watching on the news or seeing on your Instagram feed is probably not going to help you get to sleep.
Do a hard workout.
Another thing Harris never does before bed is strenuously work out. Activities like gentle stretching or walking are fine, but if you work out too intensely, you may find yourself energized and wired before bed. (Not everyone will experience this, but Harris falls in the camp that does.)
As Nishi Bhopal, M.D., a psychiatrist specializing in sleep medicine, previously explained to mbg, your core body temperature also rises when you work out, which can cause issues falling asleep. So if you do want to get a good workout in, do it at least a few hours before bed.
Consume caffeine or alcohol.
Avoiding coffee before bed might sound like a no-brainer, but remember, it isn't the only thing with caffeine! Chocolate, certain teas, and even kombucha have significant caffeine levels, and caffeine has an astoundingly long half-life (meaning it takes a while to completely leave your system), so ditch it early in the afternoon.
In the case of alcohol, research shows it can inhibit quality sleep1, which is why Harris recommends avoiding consuming it "ideally within two to three hours, but definitely not within an hour."
Skip skin care.
And finally, the last thing Harris tells mbg she never does before bed is skip out on her nightly skin care routine. Not only is this a good idea for your complexion, but having a consistent nightly routine is a great way to get your body into the rhythm of winding down around the same time every night (which is oh-so-key for sleep quality).
No amount of good sleep etiquette can make up for bad sleep hygiene habits. So if you've been trying to improve your sleep quality but you're still drinking wine before bed or working out late at night, you might want to make some adjustments.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.