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Avoiding the "Do not's" of Sleep Hygiene

If you're reading this right now, then you may have previously read our installment on how to do sleep hygiene the right way. But to really become an expert at sleep hygiene, you need to know how to avoid doing It wrong. Below, we'll discuss some of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to improve their sleep hygiene - and how you can avoid them.

Sleep Hygiene

Don't Expose Yourself to Too Much Electronic Light

Exposing yourself to too much electronic light during the day is as common of a mistake as it is a hard habit to break. Think about it; we're constantly surrounded by artificial light everywhere we go at almost every moment of every day. We're bombarded by fluorescent light at work, in the grocery store, at the doctor's office, and everywhere else we go that isn't home. Most of us have incandescent light bulbs or CFLs illuminating our house at night. And the worst offenders are our electronic devices. High-def televisions, computers, and cell phones - while they may look pretty - are destroying our ability to sleep at night.

Every human's internal clock is regulated by the rise and fall of the sun. When the sun comes up, the bright light tells us it's time to wake up and get busy. When the Sun goes down, the darkness triggers the release of melatonin, which helps calm and relax both brain and body. Too much artificial light makes it almost impossible for your body to produce and release melatonin. This, in turn, seriously handicaps your efforts to get a full restful night's sleep.

Don't Consume the Wrong Foods at the Wrong Times

Eating the wrong foods - or eating innocuous foods at the wrong time of day - is a recipe for sleep disaster. Eating too close to bedtime is a bad idea for your health in general, but eating spicy, sugary, fatty foods right before bed is even worse. They can keep you up at night with stomach upset, and it can disrupt your body's ability to get a restorative night's sleep.

Also, you're going to need to be very careful with your caffeine intake. Pretty much any caffeine consumed after 12:00 PM is guaranteed to keep you up at night. So if you don't want to be tossing and turning, turn off the coffee maker and or put down the soda once you get into the second half of your day.

Don't Turn Your Room into a Hotbed of Activity

In this case, the term "hotbed" is both metaphorical and literal. Sleeping with too many blankets or sleeping in a hot room can disturb your ability to get good sleep. It can also prevent you from sleeping in the first place. So use your covers sparingly, and make sure you have the ability to cool your room when it's time for bed.

Also, if there are any distractions in your bedroom that you need to get rid of, you should do so to the best of your ability. Bright televisions, phones, computers, and even noisy pets will all get in the way of a restorative night's rest. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping and sex only. so if you want to get good sleep, you have to adhere to that rule as best you can.

Don't Take the Wrong Kind of Sleeping Pill

Don't get us wrong. We understand the irresistible temptation of making all of your sleep woes go away just by taking a single little pill. But the truth is, most of the OTC sleeping pills out there won't really help you get better rest. In some cases, your problems will get worse. You will be getting poor sleep more frequently and, at some point, you may lose the ability to get good sleep at all. You will constantly feel groggy, lethargic, and tired throughout the day. Worst of all, many of the prescription sleeping pills out there can be a danger to your health.

But if you still want to take something at night to help you drift off, there are some healthy, natural options out there. You can find effective, safe, non-habit-forming herbal sleep aids available for sale with no prescription necessary. We always like to suggest our favorite, Avinol PM, to people who want a natural and safe way to relax before bed. Of course, there are many options out there. We've evaluated many of them, and you can take a look at our recommendations.