Swap out your old pillows for more sound snoozing tonight. (Photo courtesy of Laura Doss)
You slip under the covers, turn off the light, and rest your head on your pillow. Seems simple and perfect, but here are some things you could be doing in bed that harm your health.
- Grinding your teeth: Formally called sleep bruxism, many people unknowingly clench their jaw or grind their teeth at night, which can lead to tension headaches, earaches, irritated tissue on the inside of your cheeks, jaw pain, and permanent damage to your teeth in the form of chips and worn-down enamel that cause sensitivity or cracks. Stress can be a factor, so reducing the amount of worry in your life can help. If it doesn't, see your dentist about designing your own personal mouth guard to sleep with. Not exactly the sexiest thing to wear to bed, it's sure to offer you a more restful and less painful night of sleep.
- Sucking on a cough drop: If you suffer from a chronic cough, cold or sinus infection, or postnasal drip, sucking on a cough drop every night may be the only way you can get some sleep without coughing keeping you up. Although soothing to your throat, exposure to a bath of sugar all night long is sure to lead to tooth decay and cavities. Here are other natural remedies for your nighttime coughs. If the cough persists, it's time to see your doc.
- Sleeping on an old pillow: Aside from being unsupportive and leading to neck or back pain, dust mites love hanging out in old pillows. Even if you don't suffer from allergies, it's not healthy to breathe in dust mites all night long. Some sleep experts recommend replacing bed pillows every few years, but if you find they're lumpy, need to be fluffed up often, or have an interesting odor, you'll want to splurge on new ones more often. Zip an allergy cover over your new pillow to protect dust mites from moving in.
- Tossing and turning: If you're not getting enough quality sleep, you're at a greater risk of sickness, weight gain, impaired memory, increased blood pressure, moodiness, and skipped workouts from lack of energy. All of these contribute to poor health, so it's important to figure out what's preventing your insomnia in order to get a solid amount of z's.