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.
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.
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
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.