Falling asleep is a problem of its own for a lot of people, let alone having a good night's sleep. There are so many factors that affect your sleep and the quality of your sleep, knowing them is the first step to addressing them.
Our circadian rhythm or our body's internal clock is easily affected by our environment during hours of wakefulness and our sleep environment.
Familiarity with the factors that affect your sleep and rest allows you to make adjustments so you could get the best sleep quality.
We have listed below ten things that could be messing 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 an unusual thing for anyone regardless of age.
You can easily picture yourself at night having trouble sleeping; you reach for your phone to watch videos in the hopes that you'd fall asleep soon - to no avail.
The sleep deprivation is caused by too much exposure to blue light coming 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.
Avoiding using 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 woozy and sleepy. And you might think that its enough for you to fall asleep when you're inebriated - which can be true.
Falling asleep wouldn't be main your concern, but the poor sleep you get from bein intoxicated leads to headaches and low energy levels the following day.
The low energy levels are due to a misallocation of the stages of sleep. More REM sleep is induced by alcohol which takes away the restorative benefits of deep sleep.
With that in mind, drink moderately and always rehydrate after a night of drinks.
Jet lags messing your sleep cycle
The effects of jet lag occur when people cross different time zones. People are innately programmed to sleep based on the time of day.
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 being exposed to light at different times than what your body expects.
People who travel across different timezones may develop unusual sleep patterns which can lead to sleep disorders.
Adjusting your flight schedules according to the amount of sleep you can get in the plane and your time of arrival can help you avoid jet lags and normalise your sleep pattern.
Working night shifts
Workers spending their working hours on the night shift are highly susceptible to sleep disorders.
To work night shifts, workers have to reverse their body clocks and sleep during the daytime, which can be difficult.
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 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.
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.
But, consuming caffeinated beverages can easily disrupt your sleep patterns as it's much more challenging to sleep when you're restless.
Avoiding coffee and tea in the late evening can address this problem, and if you crave for the taste - you might have 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 common 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, and 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.