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Is Junk Sleep the Reason You're Waking up Tired Every Day?

This quality of sleep is detrimental to your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you wake up and find you're lethargic and restless, you can possibly blame it on a trendy new term called "junk sleep." This expression describes poor-quality sleep that's insufficient and not nourishing your body and brain the way a good night's rest should. Keep reading to learn more about junk sleep and how to address it. And next up, don't miss Sharing a Bed With a Light, Restless Sleeper? These Tips Will Help.

What is junk sleep?

man experiencing junk sleep in front of the TV at home

Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of MattressNextDay explains to Eat This, Not That!, "[Junk sleep] can be compared to diet and nutrition. When we eat junk food, which offers no nutritional value, we start to feel unhealthy and lethargic. Whereas when we have a nutritious, balanced diet we feel good. The same goes for sleep; we need to have that high quality, long, undisturbed slumber to fully reap the benefits and function normally."

Whether you've fallen asleep while watching TV, found yourself waking up hours after an unexpected nap, or nodded off long before your normal bedtime, you've had yourself some junk sleep. The consequences of these unplanned periods of rest can include symptoms such as fatigue, grogginess, tired muscles, poor concentration, irritability, brain fog, or body aches and pain.

If you want to boost your quality of sleep, Seeley shares his three top tips to ensure junk sleep is a thing of the past.

Establish a regular sleep routine.

The best thing you can do to avoid falling prey to junk sleep is to ensure you have a healthy, regular sleep routine, and to do your best to stick with it. This includes trying to go to bed at the same time each night, making sure that your bedtime isn't too late, and trying your best to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Seeley suggests, "[You should] avoid working late, drinking excessive alcohol, or smoking. You need to be strict with yourself at night, so if you are tired and feel yourself falling asleep on the sofa, get yourself up, washed, and into bed so you won't be disturbed in the night."

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Practice good sleep hygiene.

man sleeping peacefully in dark bedroom

While a good nighttime routine is paramount, so is the environment you sleep in. According to Seeley, "[This means] ensuring your bedroom is relaxed and clean. Good bedding and clean bed sheets will help. Make sure your room is dark enough and [set at] a good temperature—so not too hot or cold. If you struggle to get to sleep at night, you can try reading rather than staring at a phone screen, taking a warm bath with some soothing bath salts, or listening to some relaxing music."

Make sleep a priority.

As with any busy schedule, it can be easy to get off track with your sleep in order to make social plans and keep up with work commitments. However, not paying attention or making room for proper sleep can result in unwanted consequences when it comes to your health and overall well-being.

Seely points out, "This time of year, it's common to experience junk sleep since we are all so busy, but try to make your sleep a priority, don't say yes to too many things, and ensure you are getting home at a decent hour to make sure you're allowing for enough sleep to manage the next day's activities."

Lucy Pearson
Lucy Pearson is a freelance writer, book blogger and host of The Bondi Literary Salon based in Bondi. Read more about Lucy
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