5 Unexpected Reasons You Are Sabotaging Your Sleep
5 Unexpected Reasons You Are Sabotaging Your Sleep
Sleep. The thing we can never seem to get right. While some people may need less as they get older, this isn’t true for all. So, how do you know if your sleeping is normal or disruptive?
The key indicator is feeling tired and unrested. If you are getting five hours of sleep, but feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning then you are probably getting the sleep you need. However, if you are waking after seven or eight and feeling drained then there might be a problem. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of unexpected reasons you are having trouble getting the rest you need.
Producing Less Melatonin
There are several points in the average person’s life when their sleep requirements change. Though this isn’t true for everyone, some people start producing less of the hormone melatonin as they get older. Melatonin is the little indicator that tells your brain you are sleepy. It is also responsible for the desire to sleep. If you produce less of it, you won’t feel the urge to mellow out at night and tend to stay up later than you normally would.
Stress is also a culprit of lower melatonin production. Your brain only triggers the release of melatonin when you are relaxed, so managing your stress throughout the day is key to getting melatonin at night.
One solution is getting melatonin from an exterior source. Most pharmacies and grocery stores will offer melatonin tablets over the counter. Additionally, since melatonin is naturally occurring you can find it in foods as well. If you think you have a melatonin deficit causing changes in your sleep, try switching up your bedtime beverage. All of the following drinks naturally contain melatonin.
- Chamomile tea.
- Valerian tea.
- Tart cherry juice.
- Almond milk.
You Need to Stay Away From Light for Better Sleep
With the rise of social media and smartphones in bed, many people are exposing themselves to blue light before they sleep. Blue light is often used to illuminate screens, however, it also diminishes levels of melatonin, making it harder to want to sleep. Especially with the distraction of whatever you are watching. Try adjusting the blue light on your phone when you are in bed or stay off your phone altogether.
But it’s not just the blue light from screens that could be sabotaging your sleep, but any light in your room at all.
Darkness is essential to sleep since it triggers the signals in your body that tell your brain to relax.
Some of the artificial sources of light that affect your sleep are:
- Light from street lights outside.
- Alarm clocks.
- Night lights.
- Lights from other parts of your home.
To avoid these light sources, try:
- Getting blackout curtains.
- Turn alarm clocks away from you.
- Avoiding screens before bed.
- Remove all unnecessary light sources.
- Where a sleeping mask.
Your Sleep Environment is to Blame
Did you know, our bedroom could be secretly keeping you from getting the rest you need? Well, more specifically, how you are using it.
If you spend a lot of time in or on your bed when you aren’t sleeping, you might be sending your brain some mixed messages. While your bed might be the most comfortable spot in your home, spending too much time there can affect your brain’s association to bed and sleep. This makes for a difficult transition between wakefulness and sleeping. It also might indicate that you have too many distractions in your room to make sleep easy.
Research shows that you shouldn’t be using your bedroom for anything other than sleep and intimacy. It is essential that your mind associates your bed and your bedroom with sleeping.
Making sleep the sole thing associated with your bed can also trigger a neurological relaxation response, melatonin production, and lower blood pressure. All of this makes it much easier for you to get to sleep faster.
Some other environmental factors that could be sabotaging your sleep are:
- Restless partners.
Try some of these solutions:
- Keeps TVs and other noises sources off.
- Turn the temperature down before you go to bed.
- If you can afford to, get a better mattress or bigger bed.
Not Getting the Right Amount of Sleep
Many people know first hand the problems with not getting enough sleep, but did you know you can also have issues if you get too much?
Most sources will tell you that eight hours of sleep is ideal. But what they don’t tell you is that those eight hours are just the mean of the seven to nine that is recommended for most healthy individuals. Basically, everyone’s sleep needs are different and not everyone needs eight hours of sleep.
Though our sleep needs might change slightly depending on our age, some people simply need less shut-eye to feel rested. This can mean if you are a person who only needs six hours of slumber but keeps trying for eight, you are probably oversleeping. The problem with oversleeping is your brain enters another REM cycle before it can finish, which means you are likely waking up mid REM and feeling exhausted.
One of the surest signs you need less sleep than you are getting is if you consistently wake up an hour or two before your alarm.
If this happens often and it takes you more than 15 to 20 minutes to get back to sleep, you could try just getting up and starting your day earlier. If it is a fluke, you will likely be tired by the end of the day and sleep through the night. If your body is trying to tell you that you’ve slept enough, well then you won’t benefit from oversleeping. Win-win.
Individuals suffering from prolonged sleep trouble should consult their doctor about possible underlying problems. However, if you believe anxiety or substances might be the problem, we have some advice about what to do:
- Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Nicotine Before Bed: There are several substances that can have a detrimental impact on your sleep. Caffeine seems like a given, however, nicotine is also a stimulant and many smokers overlook the impact on their sleeping habits.
Also, many people enjoy a nightcap before bed. The problem with alcohol is once its metabolized your body might trigger you to wake up.
- Anxiety: Anxiety and sleep trouble can become a bit of a chicken and egg problem because they are closely linked. However, developing a relaxing bedtime routine can help overcome anxiety-related sleep issues. Try making a cup of tea or taking a relaxing bath before heading to the sack.
Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list, and there could be other complications that are causing you to count sheep. But now that you have this information, you can set your sights on a better night’s sleep. Sweet dreams.
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Twin Lakes is a continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, offering villa homes, apartments, rehab services and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Twin Lakes online or at 513-247-1300.