TODAY   |  April 01, 2014

5 sleep mistakes you may have made last night

Dr. Carol Ash joins TODAY to discuss some of common sleep problems, and how they may be the result of bad behaviors that can be corrected.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if you're already on that second cup of coffee because you couldn't sleep last night, there could be a surprising reason behind that tossing and turning.

>> what you do during the day from exercising to eating can affect how you'll rest at night.

>> here with the top five sleep mistakes to avoid is the director of sleep medicine at meridian health. dr. ash, good morning.

>> good morning.

>> we're going to have this countdown. and i didn't realize, number five, i thought it was a good idea to eat protein before you go to bed, but you say no.

>> al, we all know about alcohol and the caffeine, but protein, too much, actually, protein can make it hard to digest and will keep you up at night and actually also block tryptophan into the brain which will help you be sleepy. what you want to do is shake it up. you want to move your dinner to breakfast. so have a larger breakfast with the protein, and that will also help you stay awake during the day.

>> wow.

>> what should we have for dinner?

>> well, keep it light. you want to make sure you have less protein and stay away from the calorie dense foods but a little bit of carbohydrates. whatever you have for dinner, you want to -- you can have protein.

>> number four, taking a hot shower before bed, people think the shower's relaxing, but that's not the case.

>> exactly right, tamron. you fall asleep on a temperature drop. and when you take a shower too close to bedtime, it heats you up. it silences the signal for sleep. you want to take that hot shower, but an hour or two before bedtime.

>> does it apply to baths, as well?

>> same thing. exact same thing.

>> next mistake, number three is bad posture. and i believe i'm going to do a little demo here. almost certainly an elaborate april fool 's joke. here we go.

>> feet on the floor and lay with your back against this roller. meridian health. here you go. if you want to get your head on the end. we partner with a community, we went in and asked people in the community, what do you do for sleep? and one of the physical therapists said this helps increase flexibility. something you never think about. posture during the day helps you sleep at night.

>> okay.

>> sleeping like a baby over here.

>> is this what he's supposed to be doing?

>> five minutes before he goes to bed.

>> oh, you've got to try it again.

>> no, thank you.

>> it actually helps. believe it or not to increase flexibility and lay flat in the bed.

>> so on the floor and do it on the bed.

>> five minutes before bed.

>> tossing and turning.

>> al, most people when they can't sleep at night, they'll lay in bed tossing and turning. if you're tossing and turning, you're not getting good quality sleep and your brain is then associating the bedroom with a place of high alert. so you want to get out of bed, go do something relaxing, walk around, only return to bed when you feel sleepy.

>> i may have been distracted by willie on that thing there, but we talked about exercise before bed?

>> exercise --

>> i thought he was exercising, too.

>> exercise, we used to say don't exercise three hours before bed. a national sleep foundation poll found that if you exercise any time of day, it's great for sleep. and, in fact, if you do it before bed, it'll help you decompress.

>> really?

>> yeah.

>> in fact, some people will find it actually helps them fall asleep. and it can be so hard to get exercise in. why come up with a reason not to exercise.

>> keep your room cooler?