On so many nights this past year, I've felt like the star of a cruel reality show called "My Worst Sleep Ever." I wake up constantly, if I fall asleep at all. Sometimes I jerk awake because I'm freezing cold; or I'm tossing off blankets because I'm overheated and sweating. It seems the only time my bed feels comfortable is the moment my alarm clock begins blaring in the morning. I wear a light-blocking sleep mask; I have the soothing white noise of my fan to block out city traffic; I splurged on 800 thread count sheets. Still, nothing. What more can I do?
Turns out, it's more about what I shouldn't be doing. In "Slumber Party," a story in Allure's December issue, we asked the best sleep doctors in the country to share their most effective tips. One section in particular caught my eye: "The Five Worst Sleep Mistakes"—I do three of them! Here they are:
To find out what's keeping you from getting your beauty rest, keep reading.
- TV too close to bedtime. The light and the content are both incredibly alerting.
- Napping. "The need for sleep builds over the day and should peak right around when you go to bed at night," says Phyllis C. Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University in Chicago. "Naps dissipate this momentum."
- A Nightcap. Drinking alcohol makes you "much more likely to wake up multiple times during the night," says Zee.
- Pets in the bedroom. Dogs snore, and cats prowl.
- Oversleeping. Not everyone needs eight hours — "the range is huge — from four to 11 hours," says Mark Hahowold, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis. Consider how much you tend to sleep at the end of a long vacation. Then see what happens if you get that much sleep. If you wake up just before your alarm goes off, that's your magic number.