Are You of the One in Three Who Don’t Sleep Enough
More than a third of adults in the United States don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis [Centers for Disease Control]. Are you in the 33%?
It’s not a terribly surprising statistic. As things like electronics make their way into normal everyday life (and our bedroom) and most of us site all day long at work, there are more sleep disruptors now than at any other point in history, ever.
In nearly every facet of your life there is a sleep disruptor lurking in the shadows. It could be your home, your body, your brain, your possessions, or your work – the point is that they are everywhere and you need to know what to look for.
Here is our top ten most common things that sabotage sleep – some of these will surprise you.
1 – Sleep Disorders (Sleep Apnea, Insomnia)
This one should be at the top of the list – it’s the obvious choice. If you have a sleep disorder, you sleep will be at the very least mildly (and more likely, moderately to severely) compromised.
Some common sleep disorders are:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
Sleep disorders are generally diagnosed with the consultation of your healthcare provider and or a sleep specialist and sleep study.
2 – Your Bedroom
Your bedroom may also be a serious sabotager of your sleep. The main things to look out for in your room are:
- What is the noise level outside?
- What is the noise level inside (hums, clicks, creaks, etc.)?
- How dark is it?
- Are there unnatural smells?
- Do you feel safe in your room?
Any number of things in your room can keep your body and brain somewhat alert while you sleep. The best sleeping room is dark, quiet, safe, and not smelly.
3 – Electronics
Most likely, you get on your phone/computer before bed. Electronics are another obvious choice for sleep disruptors. Blue light from screens has a subtle but insidious effect on our ability to:
- Produce melatonin (that helps regulate sleep)
- Transition into REM sleep
Perhaps even more importantly, electronics impair our ability to make the decision to go to sleep.
This point is extremely important. Electronics usually don’t having a stopping point: there is no end to the swiping, scrolling, and clicking on electronic devices. It’s easy to waste hours on electronics before bed; compare this to a book with chapters and an end, for example.
Keeping all electronics out of the bedroom is an extremely healthy practice for good sleep.
4 – Caffeine
Are you a coffee addict too? No surprise, caffeine can seriously disrupt sleep. The problem with caffeine isn’t so much that it keeps us up – this is why we drink it after all. The bigger concerns are:
- How sensitive you are to caffeine
- How much caffeine you drink
- When you drink caffeine
If you are not one of the rare individuals who can drink coffee all day long with seemingly no repercussions, it’s a good practice to limit coffee (or other caffeine intake) as much as possible, and not to consume much (if any) caffeine after your midday meal.
5 – Diet
Are you eating healthy? Poor diet can not only disrupt sleep, but also increase your need for sleep. Poor diet includes things like:
- Lack of minerals (anemia is a common one)
- Too many fats
- Too many sugars
Overeating or eating a high sugar diet are common culprits for sabotaging sleep.
6 – Alcohol
Do you frequently enjoy a nightcap before bed? Alcohol might make you sleep quicker, but you won’t sleep better. Alcohol:
- Suppresses REM sleep (the phase of sleep that restores cognitive functioning’s)
- Is a diuretic, causing you to get up more often to use the restroom at night
- Can exacerbate sleep apnea
Cutting out that nightcap before bed is a good place to start getting better sleep.
7 – Work
Do you sit all day long at work? Do you do shift work? Is work stressing you out? Are you working late hours and not getting enough “alone time.”
Work can be a major pain-in-your-sleep for a whole host of reasons – it’s likely more a root cause than a direct cause. Work can lead to any of these common sleep sabatogers:
- Insufficient exercise
- Needing to “zone out” on your [fill in the electronic device] before bed
- Racing thoughts before sleep
- Working odd hours
- Working hours that don’t line up with your natural circadian rhythm
8 – Insufficient Exercise
Many of us sit all day long at work. We spend time on our computers or watching TV. As a collective species, we spend less time moving than ever before.
Not getting enough exercise can leave you with that mind-tired, body-awake feeling that makes it difficult to sleep.
On the other hand, regularly getting exercise is a great way to tire yourself out and get a good night’s rest.
9 – Parasite Infection
You probably didn’t expect to see this one on here. But yes, parasites can keep you up. Some parasitic infections cause insomnia-like behavior in their “host.”
Some parasites, such as hookworms, are also active at night, causing you to itch and squirm and wake up in the middle of the night, further disrupting your sleep.
Fortunately, many parasitic infections are rather obvious to the eye. Unfortunately, many aren’t. A stool analysis is a fail safe way to ensure you don’t have parasites.
10 – Stress
Stress will tire you out, mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s not the good kind of tired either. It’s the kind of tired that makes you want/need to sleep, but that no amount of sleep can cure so long as the stressor is in your life.
Try and avoid long-term stress. You will sleep better because of it.