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4 unhealthy sleep habits to get rid of now

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Sleep

4 unhealthy sleep habits to get rid of now

Things you're doing throughout the day could impact how you're sleeping at night. Here are four bad habits to kick for a better bedtime.

Nighttime exercise

While daily physical activity is great, you'll sleep much better if you finish your workout at least three hours before your bedtime to allow the stimulating effects of exercise to dissipate.

Late-night meals

Nix late-night meals, which may interfere with your ability to sleep soundly, and give your body a rest from digestion. Try to finish supper at least three hours before you turn in for the night, and keep any bedtime snacks on the light side.

Alcohol consumption
"Alcohol first induces sleep because it's a sedating compound," says Dr. Charles Samuels of Calgary's Centre for Sleep and Human Performance, "but then it disrupts sleep because the alcohol leaves the system very quickly." He adds that the depressant also suppresses REM, or dream, sleep, which the body needs to repair itself. If you have a drink with dinner, however, it will likely clear your system by bedtime, so it shouldn't affect your sleep cycle.

Screen time
Staring at your computer, tablet or smartphone until lights-out can curtail your ability to doze off (interestingly, watching TV is fine, as long as it's not done in bed). The light from these devices suppresses the release of sleep-inducing melatonin from our brains, and the stimulation from games, emails and social media keeps our brains active. For best sleep, turn off devices three hours before bedtime and keep all screens out of the bedroom.

Is eight hours enough or too much? Check out how many hours of sleep you really need.

This story was originally part of "Cultivate Good Sleep Habits" in the November 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

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4 unhealthy sleep habits to get rid of now

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