7 Things You Should Never Do In Bed (And 2 You Definitely Should)
It might be the cardinal rule of good sleep hygiene: The bed is for sleep and sex only.
There’s still much we don’t know about the science of sleep, but experts are resoundingly supportive of these two s-words. (Some even have their own riffs on the adage, like this gem from Dr. M. Safwan Badr, M.D., president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “I say the bed is for two things that begin with the letter S, and struggling and suffering are not among them.”)
The idea has become so widely-spread that now even Lauren Conrad knows it to be true. She told Allure magazine that she’s trying to get over her habit of doing work from her bed, and wanted her bedroom to be very calm. “Your bed is for sleep and sex,” she said. Bingo!
Still, many of us are guilty of engaging in a whole host of other activities in the bedroom — and we don’t mean that in a “what you do behind closed doors is up to you” kind of way. Here are a few things you should never do in bed and why you’ll want to quit it.
Or check emails, double-tap on Instagram or stream on Netflix. These glowing devices in our lives send out blue wavelengths of light, which can tamper with the natural release of sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. You’re not alone in these habits — about 95 percent of people use some electronic device in the hours before bed, according to the 2011 Sleep in America poll from the National Sleep Foundation. Setting an electronic curfew, a time when you decide to put the devices to bed, can help you drift off more easily.
In addition to disturbing your melatonin production, the TV in the bedroom also isn’t relaxing you. “There’s a difference between relaxation and distraction,” Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., an instructor of psychiatry and a member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania, told HuffPost Healthy Living in 2013. Television, especially if it’s an action-packed, dramatic show, falls squarely into the latter category. True relaxation will result in slower breathing and heart rate, less tense muscles, quieter thoughts — and that doesn’t sound like you after your latest “House of Cards” binge, does it? Even a more calming pre-bedtime routine, like reading, should typically be done out of bed.
Toss And Turn
We know it sounds crazy to get out of bed in hopes of getting better sleep, but it truly can help: Lying there staring at the clock only makes you even more anxious about logging enough hours in dreamland. Instead, climb out from under the sheets and do something calming until you’re feeling more tired. Then and only then should you hop back into bed.
Doing anything else in the bedroom but sleeping teaches your brain that the bedroom is for things other than sleeping. Working from bed — which eight out of 10 young professionals do — weakens “the mental association between your bedroom and sleep,” according to Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine.
Cuddle With A Furry Friend
Fido sure is a great snuggle-buddy, but keep it to the couch: Allowing your pet in bed with you only opens the door to sleep disturbances. On top of the kicking and barking and squirming, you’ll also have animal dander to deal with, which could trigger sleep-disrupting allergies.
While there’s nothing quite as beckoning as a warm bed, an ultra-cozy comforter situation won’t necessarily help you sleep. Generally, the optimal temp for sleeping soundly is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If your thermostat’s set correctly and you’re still sweating buckets, consider making your bed with two separate sets of sheets so you can control your temperature without disrupting your cold-blooded chillier bed partner.
It’s tempting to sneak in a few more minutes — and then a few more minutes — after the alarm’s first buzz, but hitting the snooze button likely does more harm than good. That’s because snoozing usual disrupts crucial rapid eye movement or REM sleep, periods of which lengthen as the night goes on. Considering REM sleep is also the stage of sleep with the most brain activity — and therefore likely the biggest brain benefits — it’s probably not something you want to skimp on. Setting the alarm a little later and skipping the snooze cycle is a smarter idea.