10 things you shouldn’t do before going to sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential for both our health and well-being. Sleeping in good conditions makes you feel better during the day and strengthens the body. To ensure a good night’s sleep, it all starts at bedtime. PasseportSanté entrusts you with 10 things you should not do before sleeping.

Look at the screen of an electronic device

Looking at your phone, tablet, television or e-reader is not recommended if you want to get a good night’s sleep.

The light given off by these devices slows down  the production of melatonin  (sleep hormone). The direct action of the light delivered by a screen stimulates the visual pathways and acts on the internal biological clock when looking at it 1 .

According to a study 2 , looking at the screen of an electronic device before going to bed reduces the quality of sleep. In the long term, this use is harmful and can cause major sleep disturbances, which severely affect daily life.

Finally, it seems that the lack of melatonin induced by these devices leads to an increased risk of certain cancers 1 . If you cannot do without these small devices, it is possible to use filters that block the blue light emitted.

1. AM Chang, D Aeschbach, JF Duffy, CA Czeisler. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2014; 1232-1237
2. Mari Hysing, Stale Pallesen, Kjell Morten Stormark, reidar Jakobsen, Astri J Lundervold, Borge Sivertsen. Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: resultants from a large population-based study. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e006748

Increase bedroom temperature

You can completely heat the bedroom beforehand, but it is better to  lower the temperature  as soon as you go to bed.

In fact, an overheated bedroom increases the difficulty of falling asleep and reduces the periods of deep sleep 1 .

A temperature of around 16 degrees promotes a better quality of sleep, especially among people who suffer from sleep apnea 2 . It would also make it easier to wake up in the morning 2 .

Too high a temperature can also increase the humidity of the room, which is just as bad for sleep 3 .

Finally, the body would be ready to fall asleep when its internal temperature had reached a certain threshold: an overheated room would therefore tend to slow down this change 4 .

1. Kazue Okamoto-Mizuno, Koh Mizuno. Effects of the thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2012;31:14
2. Valham F, Sahlin C, Stenlund H, Franklin KA. Ambient temperature and obstructive sleep apnea: effects on sleep, sleep apnea, and morning alterness. Sleep. 2012;35(4):513-7
3. Kazue Okamoto-Mizuno, Koh Mizuno, Saeko Michie, Akiko Maeda, Sachiko Iizuka. Effects of humid heat exposure on human sleep stages and body temperature. Sleep.Volume 22, issue 06. 
4. Murphy PJ, Campbell SS. Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset ? Sleep. 1997;20(7):505-11

Consume energy drinks before bedtime

Caffeine  ( coffee  , tea, chocolate, energy or carbonated drinks) should be avoided before going to bed. It persists in the body between 3 and 5 hours and thus disrupts sleep cycles.

A study 1  showed that consuming a drink that contains caffeine between 0 and 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced sleep duration. Indeed, even when consumed 6 hours before bedtime, it would cause you to lose almost an hour of sleep!

Moreover, these stimulants increase the risk of cardiovascular disease 2 , which is further aggravated if you do not get enough sleep 3 .

1. C Drake, T Roehrs, J Shambroom, T Roth. Caffeine effects on sleep taken O, 3 or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Volume 09, no. 11
2. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A. Coffee, caffeine and coronary heart disease. Curr Opin CLin Nutr Metab Care. 2007;10(6):745-51
3. Sabanayagam C, Shankar A. Sleep duration and cardiovascular disease: results from the National health Interview Survey. Sleep. 2010;33(8):1037-42

Eat a hearty meal before going to bed

In the evening, having a hearty meal that is too rich in fat or protein is not recommended because it  takes longer to digest.

There is then a risk of feeling discomfort such as bloating and gastric acid reflux. It is also advisable to avoid spicy dishes, which can cause heartburn. Ideally, you should eat your meal two to three hours before going to bed: this allows you to digest most foods.

Snacking before going to bed is also not recommended, prefer a large glass of water. Certain foods are to be preferred, and in particular those which contain melatonin, the hormone involved in the sleep process, and tryptophan, an amino acid at the origin of serotonin, whose effects on sleep have been proven 1 . It is found, for example, in kiwi 2 , peanuts, cherries, milk or fatty fish rich in omega-3.

1. E.L Saino, K Pulkki, S. N Young. L-Tryptophan: biochemical, nutritional and pharmacological aspects. Amino Acids. 1996;10:21-47 
2. Lin HH, Tsai PS, Fang SC, Liu JF. Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011;20(2):169-74

Practicing an intense sports activity in the evening

The practice of a sports activity at the end of the day is not discouraged, but if it proves to be too intense, it can disturb sleep.

Indeed, it increases body temperature, which delays falling asleep 1 , and  stimulates the production of adrenaline 2 , thus accentuating the state of alertness and wakefulness.

On the other hand, an exercise practiced on a regular basis and away from bedtime, makes it easier to fall asleep and makes sleep deeper.

1. National Institute for Prevention and Health Education. Sleep well, live better. Ref: 421-096-B
2. Harber VJ, Sutton JR. Endorphins and exercise. Sports Med. 1984;1(2):154-71

Drink alcohol before bedtime

Although alcohol may be thought to make it easier to fall asleep, it significantly reduces  the quality of sleep .

This is because drinking alcohol after dinner can skip the first cycle of sleep, known as  calm wakefulness . During it, the brain is still active but the body relaxes.

Alcohol also causes regular awakenings due to adrenaline secretions, and disturbs sleep cycles because it blocks the entry of tryptophan into the brain.

In addition, since it dehydrates, it often happens that the person wakes up in the middle of the night to drink a glass of water. Sleep is therefore less regenerative and less restful.

Finally, it seems that alcohol is a diuretic 1 , which further disturbs sleep and aggravates sleep apnea 2 .

1. Mahesh M Thakker, Rishi Sharma, Pradeep Sahota. Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis. Alcohol Journal. 2014. 
2. National Institute for Prevention and Health Education. Sleep well, live better. Ref:421-096-B

Sleeping with your phone: a bad idea

A survey by the National Sleep Foundation 1  revealed that about 10% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 had nocturnal awakenings almost every day, due to calls, texts or e-mails.

Concerning 13-29 year olds, 1 in 5 said that this kind of situation happened to them several times a week. Another study highlighted the effects of the smartphone on sleep: sending messages, in particular, would considerably reduce the duration 2 .

It is therefore recommended to turn off your phone , put it on silent or put it in another room before going to bed so as not to be tempted to use it.

1. National Sleep Foundation. 2011 Sleep in America Poll : communications technology in the bedroom. Sleepfoundation.org
2. Mari Hysing, Stale Pallesen, Kjell Morten Stormark, reidar Jakobsen, Astri J Lundervold, Borge Sivertsen. Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: resultants from a large population-based study. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e006748

Do stressful things in the evening

At the end of the day, it is important to take time to relax. Chaining activities that require a lot of thought leads to stress that can affect sleep.

This will avoid working late, settling money problems or having an important discussion just before going to bed. About three out of four people sleep poorly because of a major source of stress and anxiety.

It is rather advisable to do  something calm , which does not require effort and which allows you to “clear your head”. For example, reading a book or listening to soft music helps you fall asleep and help you rest. You can also do relaxation exercises, useful to fight against anxiety and brain overwork. You will feel more relaxed and sleep will come more quickly.

Smoke a cigarette before going to bed

Nicotine is a stimulant 1  which aggravates insomnia, especially if you smoke a cigarette just before going to bed.

It delays  falling asleep , but also disrupts sleep cycles 2 . In fact, a study has shown that smokers spent much more time in a light sleep stage 3 . It also appears to cause some smokers to wake up earlier than normal due to the cravings it induces.

Sleep is therefore not restorative, and fatigue will tend to accumulate. E-cigarettes, patches 4 , pipes and cigars are also affected.

Finally, it would seem that smoking before sleeping aggravates sleep apnea, and increases the risk of hypoxia (insufficient quantity of oxygen in the lungs), which itself causes hyperventilation 5 .

1. David JK Balbour, Marcur R Mufano. The neurobiology and genetics of nicotine and tobacco. Edition Springer. 2015
2. Jaehne A, Unbehaun T, Feige B, Lutz UC, Batra A Reinmann D. How smoking affects sleep: a polysomnographical analysis. Sleep Med. 2012;13(10):1286-92
3. Lin Zhang, Jonathan Samet, Brian caffo, naresh M Punjabi. Cigarette smoking and nocturnal sleep architecture. American Journal of epidemiology. 2006, volume 164, issue 6
4. F Page, G Coleman, R Conduit. The effect of transdermal nicotine patches on sleep and dreams. Physiology and behaviour. 2006. 425-432
5. SG Conway, SS Roizenblatt, L Palombini, LS Castro, LRA Bittencourt, RS Silva, S Tufik. Effect of smoking habits on sleep.

Fight fatigue in bed

The first signs of fatigue (heavy eyelids, yawning) should make you stop all activity: the body is telling you that it needs rest.

Sleep works in cycles (3 in number), and if you miss one, you have to wait for the next one (almost 90 minutes).

The more you fight against falling asleep, the  more stress it generates  and the greater the risk of falling asleep late. The night will then not be as regenerating as it should be.

Going to bed at regular times also helps you sleep better, because the brain will automatically know it’s time to “unplug” and rest.

Exit mobile version