Sleep. We all need it, but we don’t all do it well. While most people equate good sleep with getting 8 consecutive hours, a University of California at San Diego paper on sleep research and aging reviewed data from 1.1 million people and determined that there is no statistical reason to sleep longer than 6½ hours per night. In fact, the people who slept 6½ hours a night lived longer than the ones who slept 8.
Not to panic, getting 8 hours a night won’t kill you. However, it does bring into focus what’s really important: Your sleep quality. A lack of the right kind of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer, cause weight gain, and even increase your risk of death.
It’s just as important to avoid doing the wrong things before going to bed as it is doing the right ones. Here are the few most important things to avoid at night for the best sleep possible, adapted from The Bulletproof Diet.
For at least a half hour before going to bed, try to avoid bright lights. Dim your office lights if you absolutely must be working this close to bedtime, and kill the unhealthy fluorescent ones. This includes all those devices, too, including your phone, iPad, and even television. Why? Because even 5 minutes of white light from a screen suppresses melatonin levels by more than 50%. Translation: Levels of melatonin, otherwise known as the sleep hormone, in the blood rise sharply, and you begin to feel less alert in the evening, and sleep becomes more inviting. If light is around, you’ll have less of a natural inclination to hit the hay and stay sleeping.