Sleep Better By Avoiding These Common Mistakes

It can be easy to miss the little habits that affect the quality of our sleep and, in turn, our health in the long run. Here are some common mistakes that could be the culprit behind poor sleep.

Catching up on sleep during the weekends

It is common to see people "catch up" on lost sleep on Friday and Saturday night when they have not been able to get enough rest through the week. But experts like Dr. Robert Rosenberg of Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley, Arizona, discourage this habit.

"Sleeping extra hours on the weekend will not help. In fact, doing so may disrupt your normal sleep-wake schedule so severely that going to bed on time on Sunday night may be impossible," he writes for Everyday Health. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep per night to maintain alertness and energy during the day.

Going to bed in the prone sleep position

But many sleep experts say that the prone position — which involves sleeping on your stomach — can trigger unwanted side effects. For one, it can lead to neck strain and headaches because of how your head is positioned.

In addition, the position may flatten the spine and add pressure to the joints, leading to lower back pain. If you experience any of these problems, speak to a health professional for guidance. There are also some simple interventions you can look into.

Not replacing your mattress, pillows enough

You should aim to replace your mattress every eight years or so, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Of course, there are also signs you can watch out for. "Check for worn or sagging spots in the middle or at the edges, and make sure that when your partner moves, your position on the bed isn't disturbed," the website explains.

Since the durability of a pillow tends to vary more, you can replace them every one or two years depending on the quality. People who suffer from allergies may need to wash and replace them more frequently due to dust mites.

Keeping yourself busy right until you go to sleep

Ever considered a soothing bedtime ritual? If you find it hard to fall asleep, you may want to give it a try. In an e-mail to Bustle, Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, a sleep expert based in Denver, Colorado, explained why we should take steps to relax before bedtime.

"A good rule of thumb is to begin winding down one to two hours before going to bed. This is not the appropriate time to exercise, worry about your fears, or get into an argument. For many, attaining good sleep on a regular basis is a learned activity that we can influence by our pre-bedtime habits," he stated.