No one can contest the importance of sleep for vitality and longevity. Sound sleep is as essential as a nutritious diet and daily exercise, if not more.
You must have heard that adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a large number of people suffer from insomnia, a condition where sleep is short and mostly poor quality. This leads to lack of productivity and daytime fatigue. Insomnia exists in many forms for people, some have trouble falling asleep daily because of it, and others may wake up often and then struggle with falling back asleep. For some, insomnia may include waking up too early or feeling like they haven’t slept at all each day.
Insomnia is a widespread problem now, with people of all age groups suffering from it. Lack of sleep has endless disadvantages, including daytime fatigue, depression, lack of productivity, and a variety of physical health challenges. To find the right solution, it is important to discover the root cause of why you can’t sleep.
Things that could be disrupting your sleep
Alcohol before bedtime
Overindulgence in alcohol right before bedtime can lead to poor quality sleep. While alcohol may make you feel more relaxed and even sleepy, the peaceful slumber you thought you had fallen into will soon turn fragmented and unrefreshing. Learn more about the effects of alcohol on sleep quality.
Your bedroom is not dark enough to sleep
Before going to bed, switch off all the lights, especially the ones that your electronic device emits. When the brain experiences certain types of light, it automatically cuts down the production of melatonin. The pineal gland releases the melatonin hormone responsible for inducing sleepiness and reducing body temperature.
Electronic devices are especially problematic in this regard because they mimic the glare of sunlight and send your brain spiralling into activity.
Part of the process of falling asleep includes the drop in temperature and heart rate naturally. But when you exercise heavily within three hours before your bedtime, your body functions accelerate. As a result, your entire nervous system becomes highly stimulated and prevents you from snoozing.
Room Temperature Not Right
For a person to slip smoothly into sleep, it is important for their body and mind to cool down first. This becomes impossible when the temperature inside the room is too warm.
If your room tends to get warm at night, try installing a fan to regulate the temperature and create a suitable balance for the body and mind. The consistent whirring of the fan can also double as a white noise machine. It works like a cocoon, and the white noise gradually lulls you to sleep. But do not overcool the room either, especially if you have an air conditioning unit. Just like uncomfortable warm temperatures, unnecessary cool temperatures will also disrupt your sleep.
According to experts, moderate temperature for going to sleep is 65 to 72 degrees at night.
Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety are major contributors to short term insomnia. Even when you are tired and fatigued from a restless night, the activities of the day tend to occupy and distract you. You go through the motions out of routine, if nothing else, but the anxiety comes back to plague you as you get into bed at night.
Once you are in bed, your mind is free to wander and generally fixates on the negative aspects of your life, keeping you awake and worrying.
Managing stress and anxiety is a key to getting a good night’s sleep. If you suffer from anxiety, even if it feels temporary, consider reaching out to a therapist.
Caffeine has a half-life of approximately five hours. This means that even after ten hours, a quarter of your first caffeine dose remains in your system.
Most of us are guilty of consuming two to three cups of coffee during the work day, which often means our system doesn’t get enough time to flush out the caffeine.
As a rule, try to limit your coffee consumption to 400 mg per day and avoid it entirely after lunchtime.
Again, another habit we humans tend to form is to look at the clock every time we wake up during the night. Forming a clock-watching habit can train your circadian rhythm in a negative way. Before you know it, such unintentional training will have you waking up at 2:30 each night. It is best to turn your clock around so that it is not facing you when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Snacking on the Wrong Things
Does your nightly snack time typically feature a bag of chips or a slice of pizza or two? If it does, this could be the reason why you’re up, staring at the ceiling each night. Loading up on proteins and fats right before bedtime is a bad idea. It sends your digestive system into overdrive and potentially causes heartburn.
While habitual smokers make equate smoking with relaxing, in truth, nicotine is not a relaxant but a stimulant. If you smoke before your bedtime, you will most likely wake up often during the night.
Sharing your bed with a partner who snores or even a four-legged creature who crowds you can be a sleep destroyer. Often you may let the cuteness of being together in bed cloud your judgment, but it could be the reason why you’re struggling every night to fall blissfully asleep.
While a snoring partner does not deserve banishment from the bedroom, you can consider snoring solutions such as an anti snoring mouthpiece. You can also designate a separate sleeping corner for your furry friends, so they are still nearby but don’t disrupt your sleep.
If one or more of the above problems are the reason why sleep deprivation is becoming a constant in your life, perhaps the following solutions might help you.
- Invest in a snoring solution for your partner, such as a tongue stabilizing device.
- Get a white-noise machine for yourself to block out any unwanted sounds and sooth you to sleep.
- Refrain from using electronic devices at least an hour prior to your bedtime. Ensure there is no source of light that could prevent you from falling asleep. A satiny sleep mask may also help here.
- Caffeine affects people as per their age, but it is best to consume only a moderate amount daily and not after lunchtime.
- Spend time meditating daily and releasing your stress. It will make you less anxious and more able to fall asleep.
- Maintain a good system in your room to regulate the ideal temperature for falling asleep, regardless of what season it is.
- Limit your alcohol consumption during the evenings.
If you tend to wake up more tired than you were before going to bed, you are suffering from sleep deprivation. There are a lot of reasons why you may find it difficult to fall asleep at times, but certain unhealthy practices could make this a permanent problem. With a few positive changes and healthy habits, you will be able to slip easily and peacefully into sound sleep every night. Happy snoozing!