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Ways You’re Sleeping All Wrong, According To Science

Updated February 4, 2020 4.0k views20 items

Getting good sleep is one of the healthiest habits you can practice. If you don't get enough sleep, or if the sleep you do get is of poor quality, it will affect your wellbeing. Not only will you feel tired the next day, but you're also more likely to experience health problems. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, chronic sleep deprivation can affect your mental health, your physical health, your quality of life, and even your safety. 

For many of us, figuring out the correct way to sleep is difficult because it involves so many factors. Everything from your sleeping position to your body temperature to your bedroom itself can affect your sleep quality. If figuring out how to sleep correctly is confusing for you, here are 20 things that might be getting between you and a good night's sleep.

  • You’re Lying Flat On Your Back

    Sleeping flat on your back with your arms to your side is better than sleeping on your stomach, but it can still cause problems depending on the individual. Back sleeping can cause snoring and lower back pain, and it can exacerbate sleep apnea.

    If you're a back-sleeper, try putting a pillow or a rolled-up towel under your knees. This will help align your spine and alleviate your back pain.

  • You’re Not Using A Mattress Topper

    Even if you already have a comfortable mattress, a soft foam mattress topper can improve your sleep even more.

    2018 study at the Ota Memorial Sleep Center compared people who slept on soft mattress toppers versus people who slept on firm mattress toppers. A decline in the body's core temperature during sleep will cause a deeper and more restful sleep, and people who slept on softer toppers saw a larger decline in their core temperature during the initial phase of sleep. The study also found that using a softer mattress topper causes less strain on the muscles when rolling over.

  • You’re Drinking Alcohol Before You Go To Bed

    If you've gone to bed after having a few drinks, you may have found that alcohol helps you fall asleep quickly. Problem is, once you've fallen asleep, alcohol will also lower your sleep quality. 

    REM sleep is the stage of sleep during which we dream and when our brains process our memories. Having alcohol in your system causes your brain to skip the REM stage and go straight to the deepest stage of the cycle: slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the most restorative stage, but alcohol also reduces the quality of slow-wave sleep. The next day, you're likely to feel tired, groggy, and irritable. 

    According to Dr. Timothy Roehrs of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, alcohol begins to disrupt sleep when your blood alcohol content is at .04. So, if you're going to drink before bed, it's best to stop after one or two drinks, depending on your weight. 

  • You Don’t Have A Set Bedtime

    Studies have shown that children who go to sleep at the same time every night perform better in school and have better overall help. But adults should have a set bedtime, too. 

    A 2018 study published in Scientific Reports found that adults with chronic irregular sleeping patterns were more at risk for a number of health issues, including obesity, hypertension, elevated blood sugar, and heart disease. Higher sleep irregularity is also associated with higher perceived stress and depression. 

    It's best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.