Is a good night’s sleep hit and miss for you? If so, you are not alone. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, one in four people develops insomnia each year. Many people who feel tired during the day still struggle to drift into deep and restorative slumber despite their feelings of fatigue. Unfortunately, there are numerous health conditions linked to sleep deprivation. The good news, is, there may be several things happening in your life that are stealing your good sleep without you even knowing it. Identifying these sleep stealers is a significant first step to a restful night.
People who frequently have issues with insomnia are more likely to suffer from several health conditions such as obesity, weakened immunity, mood problems, and cardiovascular disease. Over the last several decades, both quality and duration of sleep have declined. Sound like you?
Here are the most common sleep stealers that may be robbing you of the rest you really need.
Do you enjoy a nice cup of Jo after a good meal? If so, it may just be this delicious beverage that is robbing you of your sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause restlessness, frequent urination, elevated heart rate, and stomach cramps. All of which can make sleep very difficult. In one study, drinking caffeine up to six hours before bed worsened sleep quality significantly. Switch out your evening coffee for a warm cup of herbal tea and see if you have an easier time falling asleep.
Perhaps you feel that your ritual of glass of wine or beer with dinner will help lull you into a deep sleep. Sadly, the opposite is often true. Alcohol consumption has been linked to disrupted sleep. Yes, you may find that you fall asleep pretty quickly but you will also wake up more frequently during the night as you toss and turn.
Do you fall asleep checking your social feed or answering email on your phone or tablet? If so, the blue light that these devices emit trick your brain into thinking that it is still daylight, which disrupts sleep. Best to leave your phone and tablet out of your bedroom all together. Try to do your last checks at least one hour before you retire to help your brain unwind and fall into its natural sleep cycle.
Do you keep the heat turned up high in your bedroom? If so, this could be interfering with a good night’s sleep. The temperature of your body before and during sleep is critical. If you are too hot at night, it makes it very difficult to complete rapid eye movement sleep (REM). A lower body temperature at night will help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Consider sleeping in a cooler room, cracking a window, or using a ceiling fan to help keep your body cool.
Poorly timed exercise
There are better times than others to exercise, and right before bed can interfere with falling and staying asleep. Exercise tends to energize, and this is counterproductive to a good night’s sleep. Try pushing your exercise session at least two hours before bedtime and let your body naturally unwind for sleep. You can enjoy some simple pre-bedtime stretches but stay away from anything too intense.
A racing mind
If you try to fall asleep with a million thoughts racing in your mind, you are unlikely to be successful. One of the best things you can do before bed is to clear your mind of concerns or thoughts that are drawing your attention. Try listening to music, journaling, or meditating before bedtime to bring your focus to your breath and rest.
Eating too much at dinner
Making dinner your highest calorie meal and one that is loaded with too much fat can seriously interfere with a good night’s sleep. Try consuming the most calories midday and reserve evening eating for something light like a bowl of soup or a salad. Too many calories and too much fat have both been linked to issues with REM sleep in men and women.
Drinking too much water right before bed
Yes, it is important to be hydrated at all times. However, if you find your sleep disrupted by Mother Nature throughout the night, it is best to drink your last glass of water at least an hour before bedtime.
Good habits for better sleep
Once you have identified the sleep stealers in your life, make a point of developing healthy habits that are conducive to rest and restoration. Here are a few tips.
- Develop healthy pre-bedtime rituals – This may include taking a warm bath or sipping a cup of chamomile tea. Preparing yourself for sleep is important, and training your body to expect rest will help improve the duration and quality of your sleep.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day – Train yourself to go to bed and get up at about the same time each day. This will help your body know what to expect and regulate your sleeping patterns. One study found that participants who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep.
- Use pillow mist – Lavender pillow mist is a great tool to help you relax in bed. Spray a bit on your pillow or use a diffuser to spread this relaxing aromatic oil around your bedroom.
- Use earplugs – If a road or other noise keeps you up at night, consider using earplugs. Be sure to purchase only earplugs that you can shape to the size of your ear and use them according to directions only.
- Get in the light during the day – Increasing your exposure to bright light during the day can have a profound impact on sleep quality. Bright natural light during the day helps to regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Getting out in the bright light during the day will help give you daytime energy and regulate your sleep cycle. People with insomnia exposed to bright light during the day had a reduction in the time it took them to fall asleep by 83%. If you struggle with falling and staying asleep, be sure that you are spending time daily outdoors in bright and natural light.
-The UpWellness Team