Your sleep habits directly affect your health.
Sleep is such an important part of your overall health that no amount of healthful food and exercise can counteract the ill effects of poor sleeping habits. Researchers have linked poor sleep to a number of health ailments, from short-term memory loss and behavioral problems to weight gain and diabetes, for example.
There are many reasons for not getting a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, most people tend to reach for a sleeping pill instead of doing the work to figure out what’s got them tossing and turning.
5 common sleep mistakes you can address without drugs
- Using the snooze button. While a few minutes more in bed may be tempting, using the snooze button could backfire as interrupted sleep can increase your fatigue. It’s best to just get up on the first alarm.
- Irregular sleep schedule. A regular routine of going to bed and getting up around the same time each day will help promote better sleep, while constantly interrupting your schedule can easily lead to insomnia and fatigue.
- Taking long naps during the day.
- Eating sugar before bedtime. Sugar alters the chemical balance in your body, which can contribute to impaired sleep.
- Drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages too late in the day.
Understanding Why and How Insomnia Occurs
Fortunately, sleep disorders such as sleepwalking and night terrors are not the primary reasons for impaired sleep. The vast majority of people who have trouble sleeping suffer from insomnia; the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. And while many complain their insomnia appears “impossible” to cure, there is hope…
In order to understand why you can’t sleep, you need to understand that sleep is an outcome of two types of variables:
Sleepiness – Under normal conditions, your sleepiness should increase throughout the day, peaking just before you go to bed at night. This is ideal, as you want your sleep to be high at the beginning of the night.
Making sure you’re exposed to bright sunlight, and high-quality lighting during the day, followed by decreased light exposure once the sun sets, will help maximize your natural sleep cycle so that you’re appropriately sleepy at the end of the evening.
Noise – “Noise” occurs in three zones: the mind level, body level, and the environmental level. If the noise is conceptually greater than your level of sleepiness, you will not fall asleep.
The most common type of mind noise is called “cognitive popcorn,” or unstoppable thoughts running through your mind at night. Examples of body noise include pain, discomfort, indigestion, side effects from prescription drugs, or residual caffeine from drinking coffee too late in the day. Environmental noise is usually obvious, such as various sources of noise in your room or house, a snoring partner, music, lights, or being too hot.
In order to get a good night’s sleep, you want the sleepiness level to be high, and the noise level to below.
More often than not, the reason why you can’t fall asleep is NOT that you’re not sleepy enough, but rather because you’re subjected to excessive noise, which, again, can be either mind/body/environmental-type noise or a combination thereof.