Is Your Bedtime Routine Sabotaging Your Sleep?

Developing a consistent sleep routine is something that most of us have been told promotes healthy sleep. But this is only true if the right habits are being implemented. The routine itself is not the key to restorative sleep—the right routine is. And equally, the wrong one can perpetuate sleep problems.

You might think that you’re doing yourself a favour by practising the same bedtime routine every night. But many of the habits that naturally fall into our lifestyle actively prevent proper rest from occurring.

If you’re feeling stressed and battling to sleep or are plagued by insomnia, restlessness, or frequent nightly waking, it’s a good idea to reflect on the activities that directly precede your bedtime. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 7 common bedtime habits which could be preventing you from experiencing consistent, restorative sleep.

7 Bedtime Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Sleep Health

Sleep is vitally important for everyone. It reduces stress, revitalises energy, and facilitates several mar essential hormonal processes that keep both the mind and body strong.

But falling asleep at the same time each night can be a difficult task, especially in the stimulating world that we live in. We all have questionable habits, but sleep-disruptive habits can be particularly damaging, especially when you aren’t aware of their impact.

Take a look at this list to see if you can identify any sleep-preventing culprits from your nightly routine.

1.    Doom Scrolling

Doom scrolling is the common affliction of spending an unnecessary amount of time scrolling social media that drives your anxiety levels up. This is often the result of consuming negative news—which, let’s be honest, is very hard to avoid—that amplifies our sense of doom or disaster.

It goes without saying that doom scrolling, and any scrolling agitates your mental and emotional state, which can present major problems for your circadian rhythm. Resisting the urge to consume media for even just one hour before bed can work wonders for your sleeping patterns.

2.    Exercising Too Late In The Evening

A lot of insomniacs are encouraged to practice gentle exercise before bed in order to wear themselves out and fall asleep easier. But while this works for some, others may create the opposite effect.

Depending on your body and natural energy levels, exercise can either energise or exhaust you. Some people feel the need to rest after physical movement, and others find it invigorating. If you fit into the latter group, you’d be much better off heading to the gym in the morning rather than late at night.

3.    Leaving The Lights On Until The Last Minute

Lighting plays a significant role in atmosphere and mood-setting. Bright light triggers a spike in cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which can make it much harder for you to wind down as you try to sleep.

Don’t wait until the last minute to turn your lights down. If you have a dimming option, turn it down low so that your body receives the right signals for bedtime. This will help make you feel naturally drowsy and prepare you for sleep. If you don’t have dimmers, consider putting a soft light lamp next to your bed.

4.    Showering Too Close To Bedtime

Your body’s core temperature plays a fundamental role in its sleeping patterns. At around 10 or 11 pm, your body will begin to lower its core temperature. But when you shower late at night, that temperature increases, making it much harder for you to fall asleep.

5.    Eating Supper Right Before Bed

Your body works hard to digest food. So, giving it such a big task to complete right before bed can make it very difficult for you to fall asleep at a regular hour.

A heavy meal can take anywhere between 4 and 6 hours to completely digest. Plus, it may cause acid reflux or heartburn, increasing your physical discomfort. If you eat between 5 pm and 7 pm, it will be much easier for your body to complete its digestion process before you climb into bed. Alternatively, you could try a diet plan like intermittent fasting, as this has proven to benefit sleep apnea and other health conditions.

6.   Watching TV To Fall Asleep

Similarly to browsing the internet on your phone, watching TV late at night can have an unnecessarily stimulating effect on the body and mind. The flashing lights, the storylines—all of it is a sensory overload that your brain will struggle to move on from once you close your eyes.

Instead of watching TV or going on your phone, try to consume non-screen related media, such as a book or audio podcast. The more soothing and calming the content, the better.

7.    Leaving Your Phone On All Night

Many of us like to charge our phones overnight or otherwise leave them on in case of an emergency. But while these acts both have practical value, they can also provide all-too-easy access to your phone that will be difficult to resist if you get a text or social media notification.

One “beep” of a message tone is enough for you to reach for the device and get sucked back into the spiral of media consumption, whether it’s 11 pm or 3 am. If you do leave your phone on overnight, keep all sounds on mute except for specific contacts, such as a partner, parent, or emergency number.

8.    Drinking The Wrong Liquids Before Bed

You should be cautious of both the quantity and quality of the liquids you drink around bedtime. There are some substances that should be avoided, such as coffee or alcohol, as they stimulate the body and keep you awake, and there are others, like water, which will simply agitate your bladder.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea at the same hour as you go to bed, but if you do, make a quick bathroom trip before climbing under the covers and you should be fine.

In Summary

Practicing healthy bedtime habits is crucial for experiencing a regular sleep routine. And just like all routines, there are both helpful and unhelpful habits to be aware of. By educating yourself on which ones work best for you, you can support your body in the process of achieving great sleep.


What is a circadian rhythm?

Our internal body clock regulates our physiological and biological processes over 24 hours.

What is doom scrolling?

Scrolling through endless amounts of negative news posted online.

Why is a good sleep routine important?

Sleep benefits your physical and mental health and a routine ensures you get the maximum effect from the hours you spend in this state.     

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