Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and emotional well-being, but so many people lack it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that a whopping 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep regularly. (For reference: adults should aim for at least seven hours.)
Of course, many factors come into play in a person’s ability to get enough rest, from work and family schedules to sleep hygiene.
With that in mind, here are five common mistakes many people make in the morning that affect their ability to fall asleep — and stay asleep — later:
1. You drink too much caffeine
Obvious? Sure. But drinking too much caffeine in the morning can mess up your entire sleep routine.
In general, most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s the equivalent of about four cups of brewed coffee or two energy drinks, if that’s your thing. Remember, however, that caffeine levels in energy drinks can vary widely and there are serious concerns about their potential impact on the body.
The effects of caffeine usually kick in within 15 minutes and peak about an hour later.
“Six hours after consuming caffeine, half of it is still in your body,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. “It can take up to 10 hours to completely eliminate caffeine from your bloodstream.”
This means you can absolutely have a few cups of coffee in the morning and still smell them come dinner time.
Also keep in mind that some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine. So try cutting back a bit to see how it affects your ability to get enough ZZZs.
2. You wake up at totally different times every day.
Sleeping when you can is glorious, yes. But it can also impact your broader sleep patterns. Many sleep experts suggest that people set a standard wake-up time and stick to it to the best of their abilities, even on weekends.
Why? If you sleep a few extra hours on a Sunday, for example, you might not be tired much later than usual – which means your bedtime is off and you might be pretty darn tired when you sleep. wake up early during work on Mondays.
An irregular sleep schedule can also increase your risk of what experts call “social jet lag” – basically, the discrepancy between your body’s natural sleep schedule (i.e. circadian rhythm ) and your social schedule, which disrupts your sleep environment and has been linked to health issues such as increased inflammation and a higher risk of depression.
On the other hand, there may be benefits to catching up on sleep over the weekends, especially if you have a large sleep debt. Whenever possible, however, try not to make it a regular thing.
3. You don’t expose yourself to natural light
Sleep is governed by our circadian rhythms (which also influence everything from hormonal regulation to body temperature). And the cycle of the sun has a huge impact on these day-to-day rhythms.
Your body’s circadian clock is most sensitive to light beginning about two hours before your usual bedtime and lasting through the night until about an hour before your usual waking time, according to the CDC.
“Light exposure during these times will affect when your body naturally falls asleep and is ready to go to sleep,” the CDC states.
What all of this means is that getting lots of bright light in the morning can help shift your bedtime earlier; in the evening, you are more likely to be sleepy and ready to rest.
4. You don’t make a to-do list.
Creating a to-do list is one of the most powerful things you can do to stay on track throughout the day. It can also be an effective way to deal with the anxiety that often kicks in around bedtime and makes it difficult to fall asleep.
However, not all to-do lists are created equal. Above all, it is a good idea to write it down.
“When you try to manage your to-do list in your head, you may forget items,” The Singapore Time senior reporter Kelsey Borresen previously wrote. “Writing it down on paper (or digitally in your notes or another mobile app, if you prefer) gives you something concrete to refer to when your brain feels like mush.”
Also, make sure it’s realistic. Try to focus on three to five things you can actually accomplish, experts say. It’s a plan, not a wish list.
5. You’re glued to your phone
Checking your phone immediately after waking up means you’re letting someone else dictate what you think in the first place. And that can set the tone for the rest of the day, until bedtime.
“If we wake up and check our phone and there’s an email from our boss that says, ‘we need to talk,’ or there’s an email from a client that says, ‘Hey , can I call you later?’ we can go straight from our sleep into panic mode, where your heart is racing,” Susie Moore, life coach and author of “Let It Be Easy: Simple Ways To Stop Stressing And Start Living,” previously told The Singapore Time.
At this point, it can be much more difficult to return to a calm “intentional” state, Moore said, which can have ripple effects. So do yourself a favor and set the tone for the day by using an alarm clock rather than relying on your phone to wake you up. And do your best to make sure the time you wake up and before you go to bed is phone-free.