Most of us have had nights where we can’t sleep occasionally. But the problem is when this is persistent or chronic and it veers into insomnia. Here are common reasons you may be having trouble sleeping at night, and what you can do about them.
Many people find it difficult to sleep when they are worried about something. Your mind just won’t rest. If stress is keeping you awake, here are some tips:
- Practice stress-relieving exercises such as meditation and yoga.
- Write down your worries and how you plan to overcome them in a diary. Leave your worries and concerns there before you go to bed.
- You may take advantage of the help of a therapist or psychiatrist when stress gets too overwhelming.
- Spend some time on relaxing hobbies such as music, painting, writing, or singing.
Bad eating habits
Eating right before bedtime or having a huge, heavy dinner may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. To avoid this, you can:
- Try keeping a gap of at least 2-3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. If you need to snack, choose easy-to-digest foods such as whole wheat crackers, fruits, milk, or whole grain cereals.
- Avoid a fatty or spicy dinner. Unhealthy eating may cause acidity or heartburn that may disturb your sleep.
Too much caffeine
Although having that drink after work may relax you, it can negatively affect your sleep quality, interfering with your sleep cycle and causing you to wake up frequently throughout the night. It can also make you have to get up and pee a few times. So try to avoid or limit alcohol consumption in the evenings.
Obesity may lead to a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that causes your breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. Being obese or overweight also increases the risk of heartburn.
Exercising at night
Exercising vigorously before bed could stimulate your brain and increase your heart rate and body temperature, which may result in difficulty in falling asleep. While taking a light stroll at night is fine, avoid doing a strenuous workout before bedtime.
If you sleep or rest a lot during the day, you may find it tough to snooze at night. Try to stay active throughout the day, and if you need to take a nap, keep it under 30 minutes.
Health conditions that may cause disturbed sleep include:
If you have insomnia that won’t go away, you should talk to your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Cough and cold remedies, antidepressants, steroids, and antihypertensives (medications for high blood pressure) may disturb your sleep. Consult your doctor if you feel like these may be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
Garish colors, noise, an uncomfortable mattress, tight clothes, and too hot or cold temperatures are all counterproductive to sleep. Make sure your room is conducive to sleep.
Practicing a regular sleeping schedule even on weekends and holidays is important for getting restful sleep throughout the rest of the year.
Too much screen time
Try to avoid using electronic gadgets like your cell phone and tablet at least 2 hours before bed.
What are the consequences of not getting enough sleep?
If you’ve been sleep-deprived for a long time, you may experience problems such as:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Inability to focus on work or studies
- Feeling tired or drained through the day
- Difficulty staying awake while watching TV, driving, or reading
- Mood swings
- Reduced or increased appetite
- Irregular bowel movements
In the long run, lack of proper sleep may also lead to more serious issues such as:
Since sleep is so important to maintaining your health, consult with your doctor or a sleep specialist if nothing seems to help.
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