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Common mistakes that could be costing you sleep

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith has done a lot of research on sleep habits; both as a physician and an expert on mind-body-spirit connection. She's also written about it.

PORTLAND, Maine — Many of us think we're getting just enough sleep to get us through the day, but there are so many mistakes we make that are costing us that valuable rest time. Ultimately the amount of rest we get helps determine how much we get out of life; and how much we're putting back into it. 

According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, more than 40 million people suffer from sleep-deprivation, and there are a lot of problems that can arise from not experiencing a high-quality deep restorative sleep. 

Dr. Dalton-Smith writes about all of the ways in which we can benefit the most from rest in her book, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. She walks us through four common mistakes many of us make that could be costing valuable sleep.

Mistake #1: You don’t clear your cerebral space before going to bed.  If you have even closed your eyes to sleep only to have your mind begin to rattle off your to-do list for the next day or rehearse a conversation you had earlier, then you’ve already experienced the poor sleep associated with a busy mind. This mistake can be solved by incorporating “brain-dumping” as part of your evening bedtime routine.

Mistake #2: You try to sleep while still in a state of sensory overload. From the lights on your electronics to the sounds in your home to the smells throughout your day, your senses are constantly under attack. In order to experience deeper levels of non-REM sleep, you need to be intentional with getting adequate amounts of sensory rest before attempting to sleep. 

Mistake #3: Your body has not been prepped for sleep. It’s difficult to sleep if your body is still holding on to tension from your day. To enjoy the passive physical rest of great sleep, you need to make time in your day for active physical rest activities that restore the circulation, flexibility, and lymphatics drainage within the body.

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Mistake #4: You try to bank sleep hours. Your body does not have a sleep bank where you can deposit 8-9 hours on Saturday and make a withdrawal on Tuesday when you only get 4 hours. Each night’s sleep is important to the next day’s level of performance. Attempt to get roughly the same number of hours of sleep each night. When your mind is clear, your senses are detoxified, and your body is calm, it is much easier to drift into deep restorative levels of sleep.

To find out whether you're getting the right amount of sleep, take Dr. Dalton-Smith's free online quiz

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