After a good night’s sleep, the world seems rosy, and you’re in a good mood all day. But when you’ve been tossing and turning all night, counting sheep in vain and staring at the ceiling, it’s quite the opposite. You feel tired and drowsy. Everything gets on your nerves, and everyone that seems rested is obnoxious. As if they’re mocking you, just like the sheep you kept counting.
Are you tired of feeling tired? If having a blissful slumber seems like a distant memory, it could be either something you’re doing or something you’re not doing. Take a look at these five common reasons for not sleeping well and see if they apply to you.
Inadequate Sleeping Environment
Another common cause of sleep problems is a poor sleeping environment. If you try to force yourself to sleep in a bright and noisy room, you’re not likely to get good results. Even if you manage to fall asleep, your body will still respond to the stimuli in your environment, and it will disrupt healthy sleep patterns. This can be easily fixed with some heavy curtains and sound-proofing your windows. You’ll also want to keep your bedroom as free of clutter as possible. A messy room just reminds you of everything you still need to tick off your to-do list. Plus, who likes to trip on over-do chores on their way to the bathroom during the night?
Next, let’s direct our attention to the bed. Is your mattress saggy or lumpy? Are your pillows long past their prime? Then do yourself a favor and read some reviews on best mattresses. Look at it as an investment. You need good quality sleep to maintain your health and to be productive. A good mattress should be firm enough to maintain your back’s natural alignment. Otherwise, you’ll keep moving, trying to find a comfortable position, and you’ll wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed.
Stress and Worries
One of the most common non-medical reasons for problems sleeping is stress. It’s hard to fall asleep when all your worries come crawling out of your mind’s deepest corners to haunt you. Maybe during the day you can distract yourself, but once you turn off the lights and lay your head on the pillow, your mind is free to roam, and it’s not pretty.
What’s the solution? You need a wind-down ritual before bed. Something that signals to your brain that it’s time to relax. A couple of hours before bed, you can write down your worries. You don’t have to figure them out now. The idea is to get them out of your mind and on paper. You’ll also want to write down a few things you’re grateful for and positive things that happened during the day.
Afterward, you can take a hot bath because it raises your body’s core temperature. As your temperature begins to drop after your bath, you’ll notice you start to feel sleepy. Another step to your ritual should be listening to a guided meditation before bed. You’ll learn how to breathe in order to relax and some positive mantras you can use to put your worries aside and sleep.
Late Afternoon Caffeine
This is for all our fellow coffee-addicts out there. It makes sense. You’re tired because you don’t sleep well, so you keep gulping down cup after cup just to make it through the day. You know it’s a stimulant, that’s why you drink it. After a while, it feels like you’re immune anyway. But did you know that caffeine has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours? The effects reach peak levels after 30 to 60 minutes, but it takes up to 5 hours for your body to process it completely.
So even though you’re not exactly perky, as soon as you try to go to sleep, you feel wide-awake. Tired and alert at the same time. It’s better to stop drinking coffee about 6 hours before bedtime. You may think you’re immune, but that late-afternoon cup of Joe will make sure you drag your tired, aching body out of bed day after day.
Drinking Alcohol before Bedtime
Are you in the habit of having a glass or two of wine before going to bed? Many people think it helps them fall asleep faster, but it negatively impacts the quality of your sleep. Since alcohol is a sedative, your observations are correct. Studies confirm that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol in the evening shortens the time it takes to fall asleep. However, studies also show that moderate alcohol consumption reduces sleep quality by an average of 24%, while high alcohol consumption reduces sleep quality by as much as 40%. This is because it seems to interfere with healthy sleep architecture, particularly the REM stage, causing drowsiness and poor concentration the next day.
Basically, whatever benefits you gain by falling asleep a bit earlier are outweighed by the impact alcohol has on sleep quality, even without taking into consideration the other health risks associated with drinking every day.
You’re Not Getting Enough Exercise
Sleep and exercise go hand in hand. Scientifically speaking, working out on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep as well as your overall health. And here we don’t mean that you have to hit the gym for an hour every day. According to the American Heart Association, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of intense exercise.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that moderate workouts four times per week helped participants prolong their sleep by 42 minutes and cut the time it took them to fall asleep in half. Furthermore, regular exercise even helps with symptoms of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and chronic insomnia.
Just keep in mind that exercising too close to your bedtime can have the opposite effect, especially high-energy aerobic routines. A few minutes of gentle yoga stretches will relax you, but intense workouts increase cortisol levels. Often referred to as the “stress hormone”, cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by your adrenal glands that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. You’ll have a harder time falling asleep, and even if you manage, it can result in light sleep with frequent waking.