5 things you’re doing that are actually sabotaging your sleep

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- How to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up rested -- isn`t that what everyone wants? But, not everyone gets it.

How much sleep you get and the quality of it impacts so many things including quality of life, productivity at work, healthcare costs, safety behind the wheel and  mortality.

How much sleep should you be getting

The National Sleep Foundation released the following guidelines for hours of sleep one should get by age. For example, if you are 18 to 64 years old, you most likely will need seven to nine hours of sleep.

How much sleep do we really need?

If you are you struggling to hit that mark, there are several things that could be sabotaging your sleep. The first one is your sleep schedule.

"The more time your body spends in bed, the more your sleep starts to fragment and pull apart," University of Utah's Dr. Kelly Baron said. "Then people end up spending 10 hours in bed, but they`re up all night long."

When you are in bed, and you are wide awake experts say you should get out of bed. The bed should only be used for sleeping-- not eating, not watching TV and definitively not scrolling through social media feeds.

You can't catch up on sleep

Also, whether you`re a late nighter or an early riser during the week, doctors say you shouldn't bank on catching up on sleep over the weekend.

"During the week you`re getting up too early and on the weekend you`re sleeping in too late, so you`re always going to feel off a little bit," Dr. Baron said. "What ends up is people end up sleeping 10 hours or 12 hours to catch up. The next day they only sleep five or six and it ends up with this yo-yo thing that`s happened."

Lack of sleep impacts

Dr. Baron said doctors call that "social jetlag."

She suggests keeping your sleep schedule consistent all week long, including weekends. She also suggests winding down as you get closer to bedtime. For example, log off the computer, switch off bright lights, lay off the caffeine.

These things are actually hurting your sleep

5 things that are actually sabotaging your sleep

Dr. Baron and other sleep doctors also suggest skipping the nightcap. Experts say alcohol actually sabotages your sleep.

"It helps to fall asleep more quickly, but unfortunately the whole consequence of that is that they fall asleep and the rest of the night is more likely to be disturbed," North Kansas City Hospital neurologist Dr. Scott Shorten said.

He added that alcohol actually makes sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, worse.

The doctors also said worrying about a lack of sleep makes it even more difficult to fall asleep or get quality sleep.

"A person may start to really dread getting into bed in the first place because they are anticipating having difficulties, being frustrated with sleep and of course it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy," Dr. Shorten said.

"If you`re stressed about sleeping and you`re trying to sleep, that makes it worse because the moment you want it is the time you can`t get it," Dr. Barron added.

Experts suggest replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Instead of just lying in bed and worrying,  get up, go somewhere else and do something quiet and relaxing. Sleep experts suggest meditation. The doctors FOX4 spoke with also said to work on re-training your thought process - when something negative pops into your head - fight it off by challenging that negative thought.

"Our brain may actually make some assumptions and some thoughts that are not very productive or helpful," Dr. Barron said.

Practice challenging negative thoughts and eventually it will become second nature, the doctors said, and you`ll scare off worry before it has a chance to snowball.

Also, put the electronics down. The light delays sleep. Give yourself a cut off time from the phone or tablet. At least an hour or two before bedtime. Charge it in another room to help decrease the temptation to look just one more time.

A lack of exercise may also be impacting your sleep.

"I mean people, when they are not sleeping well, they feel fatigued, they don`t feel like exercising, but that`s really one of the best things people can do for their sleep," Dr. Barron said.

What if you check all those boxes-- you do have a consistent bedtime, you don`t drink, you fight off worry, and you exercise, but you still can`t sleep. You may have chronic insomnia.

Dr. Barron said one in 10 people have chronic insomnia, and that`s difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early.

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