8 bleary-eyed reasons why sleep is eluding you – and how to sleep better!
Chatting with a friend over coffee, she tells you she’s worried about you. You’re working too hard and she can see the stress – and lack of sleep – in your eyes. Don’t you know people who sleep less than 6 hours a night die younger? The interaction is mildly upsetting but quickly forgotten as you head back to work.
At 4 am, you find yourself staring at the clock, worrying about the sleep you’re not getting…And what it might be doing to your health.
The truth is that most of us are sleep deprived. We work late into the night and jump back into the game early in the morning, accepting that being tired is a natural state. Our days are so tightly scheduled that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to be well-rested and wide awake.
As work and technology get more tangled into our personal lives, sleep time is sacrificed to make everything else fit. And the more sleep we give away, the more we worry about not getting enough. Sadly, thinking and worrying about sleep is the fastest route to insomnia, not a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is a nightly event, not a task
There are a million reasons why we’re not sleeping well. If any of these sleep saboteurs have taken up residence in your life, time to put up the eviction notice.
1. Too much light in your bedroom
Humans sleep at night for a reason. During sleep, your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy and lowers your body temperature for more comfortable sleep. Whether it’s sunlight, a bright alarm clock or your smart phone beside your bed – too much light is a problem. Fast fix. Learn more about the best lighting for your bedroom.
2. Too warm in your bedroom
Our bodies naturally cool as we sleep. Ever tried to fall asleep on a hot summer night? It goes against that cooling down process our bodies need to deliver a healthy night’s sleep. Bedroom temperature can be the difference between a sound night of sleep and a fitful night that leaves you tired the next day. Fast fix. Crack open your window or place a fan beside your bed. Just be sure the fan’s not pointed directly at you – being too cold can affect sleep just as much as being too warm.
3. Too much exercise too late in the day
This one is controversial. Rule of thumb has always been to exercise earlier in the day, leaving your evenings to wind down and relax. “But any exercise is better than none, for sleep and health, according to USAToday.com. “We have very busy lives now. For a lot of people evening is the most convenient time.” Fast fix. Shuffle the timing, intensity and type of workout on different days to see what feels right for you and your sleep health.
4. Too much to drink (alcohol) – too late in the evening
A glass of wine during dinner or in the early evening can help unkink all those knots in the neck. Trouble is, alcohol before bed dehydrates us and jumbles our REM sleep, which can lead to a restless night’s sleep. Fast fix. Watch this video on WebMD – Why can’t I drink before bed?
5. Too much caffeine
Caffeine myths may make you worry about indulging in even one cup because, the truth is, caffeine lives in your system for a long time. A very long time. Ten hours after a cup of coffee, 75% of it will be gone but the remaining 25% may interfere with sleep – especially if you indulged later in the day. Fast fix. If you follow your bliss with a coffee in hand, do it before noon.
6. Too much heavy eating before bed
That rack of lamb might have sounded like a good idea when you started cooking it at 9 am but if you’re only getting around to eating it at 9 pm, it’s going to keep you awake. Protein takes a lot of energy to digest and that keeps your digestive system wide awake and working hard when you’re trying to sleep. Fast fix. Eat dinner earlier and if you’re hungry before bed, grab a low-carb bedtime snack like a peanut butter smoothie, a banana or a handful of walnuts.
7. Too much late-night TV
When you’re staring listlessly at the clock at 4 am, it’s tempting to get up and watch TV to pass the time. But don’t do it. TV stimulates a whole lot of brain activity and the light it emits is like waving a red flag in front of your brain – time to wake up. Fast fix. Nix the TV and grab a book instead.
8. Too much late-night stressing
When stress is standing between you and a good night’s sleep, it’s easy to get caught in a loop that never seems to end. Worrying robs you of peace of mind when you should be sleeping, which creates more worry and stress. Fast fix. When you wake up and find your mind wandering down a thorny path, stop yourself. Grab a book, make a warm glass of milk or meditate – train your brain to not think too much at night.
Getting a good night’s sleep can become an overwhelming stress if it’s out of reach. And lack of sleep could be a sign that there’s something else (medically) going on – which means it’s time for professional help. Don’t hesitate to contact a sleep doctor if you’re concerned.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- Do I have bedbugs in my bed?
- Using sleep to boost your immune system
- The essential guide to creating a bed(room) you’ll love sleeping in