Sleep is essential for our health. If you’re currently not getting enough quality shuteye, you might already be seeing some consequences. For example, if you notice you get irritated more easily, have trouble concentrating, lack energy, or have a poor attention span, you surely need more sleep. There are many factors that might be contributing to this issue, so read on to learn more about what might be ruining your sleep and how to fix it.
Exposure to bright lights before bed
For starters, you might be exposed to too much light before bed. If you live in an area where the day is very long, you should consider investing in blackout blinds that will help your body realize that it’s time to go to sleep. Being exposed to bright lights before bedtime can suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that influences the body’s circadian rhythm. In addition to blackout blinds, you can also start dimming your lights in the evening as well as getting soft glow bulbs.
Light coming into the bedroom
On the other hand, you might have issues with the light coming into your bedroom. For example, if you notice that the light from the streetlamps outside your home is coming in through your curtains, you might need some different window treatments. Those that completely stop the light from coming in are the best for this problem. If you have other sources of light in your bedroom, try turning them off. Everything from the TV and that annoying little dot that stays on the whole night to your digital clock and night light should be off.
Using electronics prior to going to bed
Using electronics can also be detrimental to your sleep. Devices like phones and computers emit blue light that can disrupt our circadian rhythms and stimulate daytime hormones. With that in mind, you want to limit your exposure to these electronics and not use them at least an hour before your bedtime. If you simply can’t stay away, there are some fixes you can try. For one, invest in blue-light-blocking glasses. Then, you can also dim the screens’ brightness or check if there is a blue light filter on your devices.
Besides light, sound can also interrupt your sleep. No matter if you can hear noises from the outside or someone from your household going for a late-night snack, it’s easy to be annoyed by every single sound when you can’t fall asleep. While soundproofing your room is an option, it can also be pricey and not possible. Something that might be more within your price range as well as have an immediate effect is purchasing a white noise machine, running a bedside fan, or playing some soothing sounds that will help you fall asleep quicker.
Sleeping on the wrong pillow
Perhaps your pillow doesn’t suit you. You’re surely aware that there are different kinds of pillows out there, so do some research to see which one is best suited for your sleeping position. For instance, if you tend to sleep on your back, you want a memory foam pillow that will provide support for your head, neck, and shoulders. On the other hand, if you sleep on your stomach, you want a soft, flat pillow that will not strain your neck and head. Lastly, side sleepers want a pillow with contours that will cradle the neck.
Using an old mattress
In addition to having the wrong pillow, your mattress might also be not right for you. First and foremost, it might be too old. If it’s older than eight years, it’s time to look for a new one. Then, its firmness might not suit you. This issue can be fixed with a mattress topper of the right firmness, so look into this more affordable option before you decide to change the mattress altogether.
Having the temperature too high
Something else you might not have thought about that might be affecting the quality of your sleep is the room temperature. A cool environment will promote restful sleep, so set your thermostat at somewhere between 60 and 75 °F aka 15 and 24 °C. If you don’t have the option of programming a thermostat, you should look through online bedding stores to find bed sheets and bed linens made of materials that offer breathability and have the ability to control temperature naturally. Luckily, bedding comes in all sorts of colors and patterns, so you will easily incorporate it into your bedroom aesthetic.
Eating certain foods
Your habits before bedtime can also result in a bad night’s sleep. For instance, you want to avoid foods that will be difficult to digest, those that are full of sugar or spice, and those that can aggravate heartburn. With that in mind, don’t have heavy, fatty, fried, and cheesy foods as they can keep you up all night due to indigestion. If foods have a high water content, you might have to get up to go to the bathroom. Moreover, foods like beans, broccoli, and brussels sprouts can make you gassy and uncomfortable during the night. Instead, try cherries, bananas, cottage cheese, walnuts, and oatmeal.
Aside from the food, what you drink can also ruin your sleep. While you might think that some booze can calm you down before you turn in for the day, it will actually disturb your sleep cycles later on during the night.
Consuming caffeine too late
Too much caffeine can make it more difficult to fall asleep. With that in mind, avoid drinking coffee near your bedtime. Moreover, you should keep in mind that it’s not just coffee that contains caffeine. You can also find it in tea, chocolate, and other foods and drinks, so check the label if you’re not sure.
Exercising before bedtime
Another habit you might have that could be affecting your sleep is exercising too late. While a stroll around the block as you walk your dog before bed is not a big deal, a demanding workout will get your heart pumping and increase your temperature. That means that your nervous system will be stimulated and you might have trouble falling asleep. Therefore, try to do your workout a bit earlier in the day.
Napping too much
If you get tired at work or from doing all sorts of chores around the house, it’s only normal that you want to have a power nap and boost your energy. However, you need to make sure your naps are not too long as that can also disrupt your sleep. With that in mind, don’t let your nap last longer than 20 minutes, so that you don’t enter a later stage of sleep that is often associated with grogginess.
Sharing your bed
Regardless of whether you’re sharing your bed with a partner or a pet, having someone else in the bed might be affecting your sleep, especially if you were used to sleeping alone. If your partner tends to toss and turn, snore, or have sleep apnea, your issue could be easy to diagnose. Moreover, you might not agree on the sleeping conditions like light and noise levels or temperature. Try to find a compromise, so that the both of you can get enough shuteye. On the other hand, if your pet is giving you trouble, consider not allowing them into the room or having them trained to sleep in one spot of the bedroom.
Not having a schedule
One great approach to ensure quality sleep every night is by going to bed at the same time every evening and waking up at the same time. It might seem difficult in the beginning to force yourself to sleep if you’re not sleepy but in time, you will train your body to feel sleepy and you’ll fall asleep much easier. Furthermore, you will not need an alarm in the morning and you will be able to wake up nice and rested all on your own.
Working in your bedroom
In case your bedroom also serves as your home office, you might have a hard time falling asleep if you think about it as the space where you have to think about work. The best solution would be to move the work area to the living room or dining room if possible. If not, at least don’t go straight from working to bed. Take a break by reading a chapter of a book or taking your dog for a quick walk.
Worrying too much
Lastly, it’s possible that you are simply under too much stress and always worrying about something, which is affecting your sleep. Ways to lower anxiety before bed abound, so consider journaling, meditating, incorporating some calming scents, and setting time aside during the day for worrying.
The reasons why you might be struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep are countless. If the above-listed don’t seem to help, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor as they might prescribe you a useful treatment.