Finding Your One Thing: Two Things to Avoid

This article is part of an author series on finding and focusing on one thing to improving sleep hygiene. Check out Part 1: Getting Enough Sleep and Keeping a Schedule and Part 2: Social Media and Television Habits.

Any success with the first 4 principles I suggested? If you just stumbled onto this article, you might be wondering what 4 principles am I talking about?

We are in the middle of an article series called Finding Your One Thing. This series has the idea of exploring which principle you should install to improve your sleep. Not all of them, not 3 or 2. Just 1.

If you want the full articles, follow the links above, but if you have a "microwave mentality," I'll abbreviate it quickly for you.

  • In the first article, I said most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. In the same article, I encouraged a sleep schedule. Does either of these suggestions fit your one thing?
  • In the second article, I said anxiety caused by social media is troublesome for sleep. Is either one of those your one thing?

Things to avoid to improve sleep hygiene

In this article, we will be covering things to avoid. When you read these suggestions, you might be tempted to ignore my principles or try to install them the first night. Resist that tendency and find your one thing!

1. Falling into the vicious caffeine cycle

Does this ever happen to you: you spend most of the night tossing and turning trying to sleep, and when the alarm goes off, you've received a maximum of 3 to 4 hours of sleep? How do you survive the day? Like most Americans, I suppose – all day at the coffee machine.

That approach isn't great, but understandable. After all, you need to get things done, and that requires energy and alertness. But with your body overstimulated, there's a high chance you'll find it difficult to sleep for 7 to 9 hours which results in you spending more time at the coffee machine and the vicious cycle continues.

Get out of the caffeine cycle

So what's the solution? It's easy to present a problem, but finding a solution can prove to be more difficult. What seems fair is I come up with the solution since I came up with the problem.

Start a new cycle! Sometime before 10:00 AM, drink your desired caffeinated beverage. Drink 2 cups of coffee and no more caffeine the rest of the day. When should you start this cycle? Start it Friday morning. You can survive...2 cups of coffee plus Friday's excitement. Then you'll have the weekend to continue the new cycle.

2. Exercise before bed

"Avoid" and "exercise" in the same sentence seems too good to be true, doesn't it? Don't worry; I am not going against every reasonable opinion that says you should. Rather I will contend that exercise right before bedtime isn't good for you. What do I mean when I say right before bedtime? Within 90 minutes.1

Exercise right before bedtime isn't good for your sleep, but exercise is good for you and your sleep. Depending on the type of exercise and the length (approximately an hour a day), exercise can help improve your sleep duration.1

What's your one thing?

I've added 2 more things to our list of "What's your one thing?" Do either resonate with you? If so, which one? Do a few of you type-A personalities want to try to install all of these principles at once? If you do, remind yourself a slower, more persistent approach will likely lead to longer and better results.

Check out the final article in this series, Part 4: Fine-Tuning Your Sleep. And please add your comments and questions below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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