These 5 Common 'Tips' Are Doing Harm To Your Sleep Schedule

From counting sheep to watching TV, these common before-bed sleep habits aren't actually helping you to doze off — they're making it harder.

Woman napping while cuddling puppy

We all know sleep is important and necessary, but sometimes getting a good night’s rest is tough. Our bodies may be relaxed while our minds are still racing.

There are many well-known pieces of advice for how to make yourself fall asleep, but the reality is that these tips don’t actually work.

1. Counting Sheep

Herd of sheep grazing in a field

Most of us heard of counting sheep for the first time as children. However, that little trick our parents taught us has been proven to be nothing more than folklore.

In 2010, Oxford University scientists found that people who were asked to count sheep fell asleep 20 minutes slower than participants who were told to picture a peaceful scene, such as a beach.

2. Watching TV

Close-up of hand changing TV channel with remote control

Electronic devices emit a blue light that tricks our brains into thinking it’s earlier than it really is, thus preventing us from dozing off and affecting the quality of our sleep.

You may doze off while watching something, but the likelihood of being woken up in the middle of the night by the television’s noise or your dreams being affected by whatever program is playing is pretty high.

 3. Exercising Before Bedtime

Woman stretching

There are some conflicting reports on this one.

Some studies have found that there is no significant difference in the quality of sleep of those who exercise before bed and those who don’t. But on the flip side, other studies have learned that exercise before bed can hinder your ability to fall asleep because the endorphins and energy mustered from working out can keep you up.

4. Consuming Alcohol To “Relax” Before Bed

Closeup of hands uncorking a bottle of wine

"Alcohol shortens the time to fall asleep and arousal threshold changes (while under the influence little noises don’t wake you up),” Dr. Nitun Verma, a specialist in sleep medicine, told Lifehacker. “It wears off in the middle of the night so your arousal threshold changes. This is bad because little noises and things wake you up more and the second half of sleep is pretty low quality.”

5. Staying In Bed After Waking In the Middle Of The Night

This may come as a shocker, but it’s actually not advised to continue lying restlessly in bed after you wake up in the middle of the night in hopes of falling back to sleep. Get out of bed, read a book, or write in a journal until you start yawning.

You know what (surprisingly) can help you sleep?

Wearing Socks In Bed

Close-up of person's bare feet in bed

According to PureWow, researchers at the sleep laboratory at the University of Basel in Switzerland found that people whose extremities are warmer than room temperature are likely to fall asleep more quickly.

This is due to the fact that right before we fall asleep, our central nervous system redistributes heat from the body’s core to our hands and feet. Apparently, by wearing socks, you can expedite that process, thus getting yourself to fall asleep faster.

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