Falling asleep is a problem of its own for a lot of people, let alone having a good night’s sleep. So many factors affect the quality of sleep, and knowing them is the first step to addressing them.
Our circadian rhythm, or our body’s internal clock, is easily influenced by environmental factors. That’s saying a lot since insufficient sleep caused by an unsynched rhythm can wreak havoc not on your mental health and dampen your quality of life. Yikes.
Familiarity with the factors that affect your sleep hygiene and rest allows you to adjust to get the best out of your bedtime.
We have listed below ten things that could mess with your sleep; they are in no particular order.
Too Much Screen Time Can Lead To Sleep Problems
With the ease of accessibility to mobile devices, having too much screen time isn’t unusual for anyone, regardless of age.
Some data show that some children in Australia own at least three gadgets, and we can assume the same is also true or even more in the case of adolescents. While the situation isn’t drastic to warrant strict intervention, it’s worth noting that these devices severely cut sleep time.
Young adults (we like to think we’re still part of this age group!) and those that are older aren’t exempt.
You can easily picture yourself at night having trouble sleeping; you reach for your phone to watch videos in the hopes that they’ll help you go lights out – to no avail.
Sleep deprivation is caused by too much exposure to blue light from your computer/smartphone screens.
When your brain detects the presence of blue light, it associates it with daytime, hence, inhibiting the production of melatonin – the enzyme that puts the body to sleep. Basically, staying glued to your screen means waking up your brain instead of putting it to sleep.
Avoiding devices with displays before bedtime is an effective way of addressing sleep deprivation.
Otherwise, try switching your phone to night mode – it can lessen the blue light emitted from your phone.
Consuming Alcohol before Bedtime
After a few rounds of drinks, you inevitably get dizzy and sleepy. And you might think it’s enough for you to fall asleep when you’re inebriated – which can be true.
Falling asleep wouldn’t be your primary concern, but the poor sleep you get from being intoxicated leads to headaches and low energy levels the following day. The daytime sleepiness and nauseous hangovers aren’t helping either.
The low energy levels are due to a misallocation of the stages of sleep. More rapid eye movement or REM sleep is induced by alcohol which takes away the therapeutic benefits of deep sleep.
With that in mind, drink moderately and always rehydrate after a night of drinks. That’s for the sake of improving poor sleep quality BUT your physical health as well. Cheers!
Jet Lags, Poor Companions for Sleep
Jet lag occurs when people cross different time zones. People are innately programmed to sleep based on the time of day. Our circadian rhythm is wired like that. However, it’s hard to maintain healthy sleep, let alone your well-being, when flying thousands of feet above sea level.
When the sun is out, our body associates that with wakefulness, and when it’s in the late evening, our brain tells our body to sleep.
Jumping between timezones can easily mess with your circadian rhythm since you are exposed to light at different times than what your body expects. Not having open access to fresh air doesn’t make things easier too.
People travelling across different time zones may develop unusual sleep patterns, leading to sleep disorders if left unchecked.
Adjusting your flight schedules according to how much sleep you can get in the plane and your arrival time can help you avoid jet lags and normalise your bedtime.
Working Night Shifts
Workers doing shift work during nighttime are highly susceptible to sleep disorders. Don’t trust us? Ask Batman.
To work night shifts, workers must reverse their body clocks and go to bed during the daytime, which can be difficult. As depicted in this PubMed study, the very nature of shift work makes it difficult for the circadian rhythm to adapt and unfortunately, this means sleep loss.
Most people who sleep during the day report that the quality of sleep they get is not the same as when they sleep in accordance with a healthy circadian rhythm.
To avoid sleep disturbances when working night shifts adjustments in the sleep environment are highly encouraged (e.g. blackout curtains). You can also try to soundproof your room to prevent arousals from outside noise.
You Might Have Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that not only messes with your sleep but can also be potentially threatening to your health.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes a person to have interruptions in breathing during sleep. They may manifest as loud snoring and pauses in breathing as you sleep. Health care experts also believe that snoring can be linked to severe problems like obesity and cardiovascular problems.
The interruptions can significantly affect sleep quality and can even wake you up intermittently at night, effectively shortening your hours of sleep.
Most people diagnosed with sleep apnea use a CPAP machine to assist breathing and allow for better sleep.
Drinking Caffeine Too Close to Bedtime
Everyone knows that caffeine gives you that extra jolt of energy, just the smell of coffee alone is sometimes enough to wake you up. What makes caffeine an effective pick me up also makes it challenging to create or maintain healthy sleep habits.
Consuming caffeinated beverages can easily disrupt your sleep patterns as it’s much more challenging to sleep when you’re restless. It perks the brain while making you feel that you need to move about when that’s absolutely the last thing you need.
Avoiding coffee and tea in the late evening can address this problem, and if you crave the taste – you might want to opt for decaf.
You’re Reliant on Sleeping Pills
It might be counterintuitive to think that sleep medicine can mess up your sleep since they’re designed to make you sleep better.
But, sleeping pills are usually prone to abuse and eventually cause the body to have difficulties falling asleep naturally.
While the pills are there to help you with your lack of sleep, try to limit the use to ensure that you don’t develop any form of dependence.
You Take Naps Too Late in the Afternoon
Sleepiness is expected in the middle of the day, and that’s why a lot of us result in napping.
Taking naps in the early afternoon has a lot of health benefits, but having it too late and for too long may not allow you to have enough sleep at night.
If you nap for too long and reach the deep sleep stage, your body assumes that it is your nighttime sleep and throws off your sleep-wake cycle.
Ensure that you limit your naps during the day and you schedule them not too close to your bedtime.
You can read more about naps here.
Your Medications Can Cause Sleep Problems
Some medications for various medical conditions like heart disease can affect your sleeping patterns.
For example, some diuretics used by individuals to help lower blood pressure can continuously wake you up at night.
Always consult your physician regarding your medications; if you experience sleep problems, don’t hesitate to inform them.
Your room isn’t the best sleep environment
One good way of ensuring you get good sleep is when your room is designed to be a perfect sleep environment.
Rooms that aren’t dark enough, cool enough, or silent enough can easily disrupt your sleep or your ability to fall asleep.
Likewise, even your bed, pillows, and sheets play a role in keeping you comfortable. Ensure that your bedroom is the best sleeping environment, and you’re guaranteed to sleep better.