How to Fix Your Worst Sleeping Mistakes

Theresa Fisher, science editor at the sleep-obsessed site Van Winkle's, gives us the cold, hard facts on why sleeping is our most important job. (Yes, there's a whole website dedicated to sleep. And yes, it's awesome.) Here, she calls us out on all our sleeping mistakes and tells us how to fix them.

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Mistake No. 1: Underestimating the Amount of Sleep You Need

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How to Fix It: Stop thinking you're superhuman! "Sleep affects everything you do from a mental and physical standpoint," explains Fisher, "and the biggest mistake people make is thinking they don't need the same amount of sleep as everyone else and that they're the exception to the rule." OK, so there are people out there who are "short sleepers"—they can function with less than six hours of sleep a night—but only one to two percent of the world's population is blessed with this gift, says Fisher. So don't count on it.

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Mistake No. 2: Thinking You Can Catch Up on Sleep

How to Fix It: We're all guilty of this. Running on an empty tank for a few days, irrationally thinking we'll just make up for it on the weekend. (That's the sleep deprivation talking. Snap out of it!) "The science in terms of whether you can shift when you sleep to compensate for not having had enough sleep really isn't there yet," says Fisher. "The best thing you can do is be consistent with your schedule. If you miss sleep on a Tuesday, sure, make it up for it on Wednesday, but do that without drastically changing your sleep and wake schedule."

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Mistake No. 3: Not Treating Your Bedroom Like a Sleep Sanctuary

How to Fix It: Fisher gets right to the point: your bed should only be used for sleep and sex, especially if you suffer from insomnia. That means no Netflix marathons, Seamless binges, or at-home mani-pedi nights in bed. Keeping outside stimulation to a minimum is a major pillar of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is commonly used to treat insomnia without the use of sleep aids. "If you're restless and you can't sleep, you should get out of bed," explains Fisher. "Walk around, go somewhere else, go into the living room until you feel sleepy, and then you can return to your bedroom."

Mistake No. 4: Not Knowing Your Chronotype

How to Fix It: Come again? Your chronotype is your sleep type: night owl, morning lark, or neither. And if you're having trouble focusing during particular times of the day or sleeping by a certain hour in the night, it's worth figuring out which category you fall into. "Your chronotype affects a lot of mental and physical processes," says Fisher, "and the types are related to the circadian rhythm," which is your body's built-in 24-hour biological clock. The key to alleviating some of your sleep woes might boil down to adjusting your schedule to match your chronotype.

Mistake No. 5: Bringing Your Tech to Bed

How to Fix It: But there are so many Snap and Sweet stories to catch up on! Well, you have to do all that before tucking in for the night, folks. That blue light is a serious menace to your sleep health. "Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin," explains Fisher. "Melatonin is the hormone that helps control your sleep-and-wake cycle, and it's heavily regulated by exposure to light." While there are devices that temper the ill effects of blue light, your best bet is to just keep your tech out of bed all together.

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