4 things you should never do before bed, and 1 you absolutely must.

Optimize Your Bedtime Routine

Breaking Bad Bedtime Habits: The Key to Quality Sleep

Estimated Read Time: 12 Minutes

Ah sweet sleep, it calls to you at the end of a long day. You start thinking about cozying up under the covers and drifting into dreamland. Cue the record scratch – most nights don’t go that way for active adults. We are on Project Go-Time far too often to slow down and get some real rest! We finally get to relax and – oops, we start scrolling our Instagram feed, indulging in a late-night nibble, or binge-watching that epic Netflix series…just three more episodes until the finale!!!

Let’s talk about the four worst sleep thieves who are messing with your sleep quality and robbing you of good health.

The Digital Dilemma

We’re all guilty of this one: binging on our screens. How often have you fallen asleep with your phone or tablet in hand? Is your laptop stealing the covers? Is the TV telling you bedtime stories all night long? Our modern tech is both a blessing and a curse. It seems harmless, right? Wrong! The blue light emitted by screens interferes with your body's production of melatonin – the hormone that regulates sleep.

Blue light from screens interrupts our natural body rhythms and inhibits the production of melatonin.

While we’ve taught our brains to be hungry for more information, and we depend on our tech to inform us, entertain us, and let us blow off some steam (who hasn't been in an epic X (Twitter) battle,?!), we can feed that inquisitive mind, and get better sleep at night when we reach for a magazine or book before bed.

Late Night Nibbles

The midnight siren calls from the pantry, “Hey, these Oreos™ are feeling ignored! The popcorn is feeling forgotten too.” Then the pixie in ‘frig pipes up, “Yo, this pizza is tired of waiting, and there’s some pudding that could use some attention over on the left.” Or maybe it’s the Girl Scout Thin Mints™ in the freezer that are sparking your midnight cravings – you have to eat at least two so they don’t get lonely, right?

Whatever is calling your name after 9, while a little taste won’t keep you up all night, a full-scale snack attack will, especially if those snacks are sugary, caffeine-rich, or spicy. Late-night snacking can lead to indigestion, heartburn, and weight gain! So pass on the double-caff cappuccino at midnight, leave the cookies for lunch, and find other ways to fill your craving for the sweetness of life.

Try to taper off as bedtime approaches and aim for a two-hour gap between your last bites and bedtime.

Bedrooms are for sleeping - not theater time or eating

Fun fact: did you know your digestive processes are some of the most energy-intensive functions in the body? Eating at bedtime throws your body’s rhythms off, engages your muscular and digestive systems that should be at rest, and may leave you staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night.

The FOMO Factor

Whether it's one more episode of that series you're binge-watching, a really intense conversation, finding the perfect response to that jerk at the office, solving the great problems of life, or trying to fit in that exercise you just want to tick off of your to-do list, the FOMO Factor can ramp up your stress and downgrade your sleep. Getting the brain working when it is time to hit the sack will have you staring at the ceiling; that "one-more-episode" is guaranteed to have a heart-pumping plot and nice cliffhanger (otherwise, you might not tune in again),all those social media interactions that raise your cortisol levels when its time to start ramping them down...those all need to be a BHP (Bedtime Hard Pass.)

We often think we're unwinding from a long day by plopping on the couch to watch a show, but sleep experts point out that bright screens, flashing lights along with the noise from that police drama all interfere with the production of melatonin in your pineal gland resulting in poor sleep. Try to give your brain the signal at least an hour before bed that it is time to wind down and that your bedroom isn't a gym or theater.

Sleeping in front of the TV is bad for your health

There's also research that points to falling asleep with the TV on all night can contribute to sleep disturbances because your brain still engages even on the subconscious level. You might even find yourself FOMO shopping during the day for things you never even considered thanks to those late night ads and infomercials. Night after night of this bad habit can lead to outright sleep deprivation and sleep disorders.

Sleep specialist know that our quality of sleep tracks right along with how many disruptions are keeping us from an uninterrupted, restful sleep. Restless nights of TV announcements waking you up over and over all night long not only steals your quantity of sleep, it also dents your daytime energy levels so that you are dragging through the day thanks to fragmented sleep.

If you really want to double down on the FOMO - make missing out on sleep your number one fear!

Dang, You're Hot!

Are you falling asleep until your head hits the pillow, and then BAM, you're wide awake? You might be creating confusing sleep cycles and battling your internal clock. You may be training your brain and body on a regular basis to have incompatible sleep cycles and a disrupted bedtime routine thanks to our body and environment's temperatures. Often we do things that raise or lower our body temperature at just the wrong time!

Physical activity is a major cycle interrupter. When we are working out really hard in the hour or two before bed, we are investing in our physical health but paying a huge price by disrupting our internal body clocks. If we don't wind down and just stop, we bring down our body temperature by not moving, signaling our brain-body communications system that we are ready to sleep or starting to sleep.

Working out and then just stopping means you may find you can hardly keep your head up (Remember that feeling as a kid right after lunch and recess when you played hard and then face-planted at your desk? Same thing!) This isn't a smooth drift off into sleep and won't ignite a restful sleep cycle for the night.

STOP These Sleep Thieves

Healthy sleep habits are easy to establish with some planning. It's best to finish up your daily exercise a few hours before bedtime and then use some deep breathing exercises or relaxation techniques/exercises to bring down your heart rate and tell your body it's time to wind down for sleep. Drop the room temperature to between 60 and 67 degrees (Fahrenheit) as part of your sleep prep plan, signaling your body you're starting your sleep hygiene routine.

Remember too that sleep scientists stress that our bodies like regular, predictable habits. Create your own "behavioral therapy" with consistent sleep habits and routines, consistent wake up times, regular exercise at generally the same time, stopping down the interference from electronic devices and cell phones hours before bed, and by maintaining a comfortable temperature along with a peaceful sleep environment. These all ensure hours of quality sleep.

Wake Up, Gorgeous!

The one thing you shouldn't miss out on before bed - collagen! During the various stages of sleep, our bodies are quite active in rebuilding, repairing, and rejuvenating themselves. Avoiding the four things we discussed above helps ensure you'll sleep well, lower heart disease (common for those who don't sleep), and avoid gaining weight. But let's look at how the amino acids in collagen can help turbocharge your sleep and your body's natural nighttime work.

AminoSculpt improves each stage of your sleep cycle

The four stages of sleep are divided into two main categories: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Each sleep cycle stage serves different functions in the body's restorative processes. At each stage, taking time before bed for a sip of collagen can improve your sleep benefits.

NREM Stage 1

This is the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep. It lasts for five to ten minutes, during which brain activity slows down. Muscle activity also decreases, but sometimes you might get the "flippies" and "head bobs" where your head jerks; or you might experience sudden muscle contractions in your limbs, known as hypnic jerks.

L-glycine is the predominant amino acid in collagen. It helps calm the nervous system and promotes relaxation. Increasing your collagen at bedtime can make it easier to transition into the deeper stages of sleep. While glycine is a heavy hitter for sleep, there are other amino acids in collagen that can contribute to overall sleep quality when you take it at bedtime. Recently Health Direct became the first and only collagen to have all 9 essential amino acids when they included tryptophan in AminoSculpt!

NREM Stage 2

This is a deeper stage of NREM sleep that last 10 to 25 minutes during the first go-round and increases each cycle throughout the night. This stage makes up a significant portion of our total sleep time. During this stage, brainwave activity slows down more, and our body temperature decreases. This is another stage where glycine plays a role because it helps regulate body temperature during sleep. Now that AminoSculpt also includes tryptophan, it helps bolster the sleep-supportive effects of collagen even more.

NREM Stage 3 and Stage 4 (Slow Wave Sleep a.k.a. SWS)

These stages are often grouped together because they represent the deepest and most restorative phases of sleep. Combined, these stages last 20-40 minutes during the early sleep cycles. During SWS, the body undergoes important processes for physical recovery, including tissue repair, muscle growth, and immune system strengthening. All of these processes require protein, the higher the nitrogen level, the better.

By taking collagen at bedtime, you can give your body premium structural protein peptides that support various tissues, including skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Supplying your body with collagen contributes to the rejuvenation, repair, and maintenance of these tissues during deep sleep.

REM Stage

REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and vivid dreaming. REM typically lasts about 10 minutes in the first sleep cycle but can last up to an hour during later cycles of sleep. REM plays a crucial role in cognitive function, learning, and memory consolidation. As we get older, our brains lose mass -- they literally shrink - and with less sleep and less REM, we lose our mental acuity.

But collagen can help you sleep deeply and keep your brain well-fed to prevent shrinkage. Additionally, the glycine in collagen is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means it may help calm brain activity which can support the transition into and maintenance of REM sleep. AminoSculpt liquid collagen, with its nine essential amino acid profile, supports overall tissue health - even in your brain, which indirectly contributes to the body's ability to engage in REM sleep.

The Big Payoff of Making Time for Sleep

Now, while all this "construction work" going on while you sleep, you'll also see some surprising improvements in the mirror. When you take collagen during the day while your body is busy working, moving, pumping, and digesting - these are all activities that require a lot of energy - your body gets that energy from protein, either from what you eat or by cannibalizing your own muscle. If you take collagen during the day, your body says, "Hey, that is some primo protein, let's use that first!" Collagen really is great fuel for your body.

But, you're missing out on the maximum payoff from your collagen investment.

If you switch to taking collagen at bedtime, your body can use the superior protein peptides to ramp up the effects of collagen you're probably familiar with because there is less competition for those high-nitrogen amino acids.

In short order, you see even better hair repair and growth, stronger and longer nails, and skin repair and care from the inside out. You'll also sleep more deeply; and, because you're building lean muscle mass, you'll increase your metabolism to burn fat faster as you fuel those muscles. Yes, you will literally release fat while you sleep.

Additionally, because your lean muscle mass is the reservoir tank of energy for your immune system, you have a better chance of fighting off the pathogens and effects of contaminants we encounter in daily living.

A Better Sleep Playbook

As comforting as it may be to keep to our same old nightly routine, you can see now why it's essential to avoid these sleep-sabotaging habits. If you can create new habits you'll create better sleep patterns, start to wake up feeling refreshed, and you'll stay healthy.

The cumulative effects of good sleep are many including anti-aging. You know, it's not called "beauty sleep" without reason!

Start slow and change one simple habit you can easily let go of, whether it's less screen time, cutting down on snacking, moving up your workout time, or creating a better bedtime environment that is comfy, cozy, and just the right temperature. Then add another after a month or two. Slowly but surely kick those sleep thieves to the curb!

At the same time, from the get-go you can add in an evening nightcap with the best form of collagen your body is quietly craving. The two-pronged approach to overhauling your sleep hygiene means in no time you'll be feeling and looking better. If you don't have great eating habits, you can also opt for some collagen during the day too.

One thing I forgot to mention - AminoSculpt is triple-hydrolyzed; it's broken down into such small micropeptides that your digestive system doesn't even have to engage. Once you take a sip, it goes through your digestive system right into your bloodstream...and right to work!

Remember, sleep is your body's way of hitting the reset button, so keep the creep of bad habits at bay and don't forget to do the one thing that will absolutely make your sleep time the best sleep improvement in a single sip you could ask for...with collagen!

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About the Author

Lisa Moretti is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the largest nutrition school in the world. She was at the top of her cohort in 2015. She's professionally been involved in the natural health and supplement world since 1981.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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