Are you struggling to sleep, or perhaps waking up feeling like you haven’t had a good rest? Sometimes it’s easy to know what’s keeping you up. Perhaps you’re worrying about something, there’s a lot of noise outside, or you had a coffee a bit too late. When you sleep poorly, you might know it’s because you need a new mattress or you share a bed with someone who snores. However, there are some things that can affect the quality of your sleep that are often slightly more surprising. Here are some of the things that could be leading to poor quality sleep or lying awake at night.
It’s inevitable that we all get older. You can’t prevent it, even if you do try to stay looking and feeling young for as long as possible. One way that getting older can have an effect on you is that it changes your sleeping habits. Many people find that they start to wake up earlier and perhaps need less sleep in general. Some women will find that the menopause affects their sleep. Experiencing hot flashes and other disturbances due to a decline in estrogen can cause sleep problems. Controlling your temperature during the night by making it a little bit cooler can help.
You might know that it’s smart to stop drinking coffee hours before you go to bed. It’s not smart to have an espresso right before bedtime. However, many people don’t realize that they’re having caffeine before bed from other sources. You can eat or drink things like chocolate or iced tea which still contain caffeine, and which could have you lying awake longer than you want. Make sure you check which products contain caffeine so that you’re not accidentally consuming caffeine right before you want to go to sleep.
Other Activities in Bed
Ideally, your bed should be kept for sleeping and intimacy only. Doing other activities in bed can mean that your brain associates your bed with those other activities, instead of with sleeping. If you like to read or do other activities before you sleep, it’s best to do them elsewhere, instead of while lying in bed. In fact, if it’s taking you too long to get to sleep, it’s best to get out of bed for a short time, instead of lying awake. You can do something else for ten or 20 minutes, before going back to bed to try sleeping again.
You’ve probably heard of sleep apnea and perhaps vaguely know what it is. But many people who have sleep apnea have no idea that they have it. If you share your bed with a partner, they might have noticed you snoring or even briefly not breathing during the night. If you find you wake up a lot at night or wake up feeling tired, sleep apnea could be one cause. An ear nose throat doctor can investigate whether you might have sleep apnea, a condition that affects nearly 18 million Americans. There are treatments for the condition, including using a special machine with a mask at night. Surgery is also an option to help resolve sleep apnea.
If you take any prescription medications, they can sometimes be the cause of problems with your sleep. Even some over-the-counter medications could lead to issues with sleep quality. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop taking them. Taking your medications at the right time of day, such as in the morning, can help. If you think that your medication might be stopping you from sleeping, you can talk to your doctor or to a pharmacist about whether there’s anything you can do. Switching to a different medication can sometimes help.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth before bed is important. However, using a peppermint-flavored toothpaste or mouthwash could have stimulating effects. That minty freshness might feel good, but it can also wake you up just as you’re starting to feel sleepy. Rather than stop brushing your teeth before bed, you can consider switching to a toothpaste that isn’t mint-based.
Temperature plays a big role in how well we sleep. If it’s too warm or too cold, it can be difficult to get quality sleep. Being too warm, in particular, can make it difficult to sleep, and it’s often more difficult to cool down than it is to warm up. While it can be hard to face the hot summer nights, there are ways to keep cool. The ideal temperature is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooler than you might think. As well as setting your thermostat, you can use cool cotton sheets and wear natural fabrics to bed too.
No Sleep Schedule
Think sleep schedules are just for children? Although you’re an adult who can go to sleep when they want, it’s a smart idea to ensure you have a good bedtime routine and sleep schedule. Your body and brain can be easily confused if you try to go to bed at different times or if you go to bed straight after doing something stimulating. By having a clear bedtime routine and a set time when you go to bed, you can make it easier to fall asleep. If you’re not tired enough or you’re too tired, drifting off becomes more difficult.
For some people, there’s no clear reason why they can’t sleep. If you’ve tried everything but sometimes you just can’t drift off, you might be suffering from medical insomnia. Speaking to a doctor can help you work out if you’re dealing with insomnia and what you can do about it. The things above can help, and your doctor might suggest other solutions too, such as medication. Insomnia can be tough to deal with, but there are ways to address it so that you can still get enough sleep.
When you’re not getting enough quality sleep, it can affect your health. Don’t let a lack of sleep disrupt your life by finding a solution to improve your sleep quality.