With all the distractions and stresses of modern life, many of us are finding that it’s increasingly difficult to get off to sleep or to have a good quality sleep. If you want to learn more about why you could be struggling with your sleeping habits, and what you can do to try and improve them, then keep reading. We will cover some things you can try to improve your sleeping habits, so you can find something that works for you.
How To Tell If You’re Struggling With Sleep
For many people, it’s obvious when they’re struggling to sleep. Tossing and turning at night and finding they just can’t seem to switch their brain off when it comes to the time to drift off. However, poor sleeping habits can go undetected directly, whilst still causing issues for the sufferer. For example, some people may find themselves feeling exhausted, struggling to focus at work, or with low moods and energy levels. This can have a knock-on effect on other areas of their lives, without them understanding why it’s happening. Many people can be unaware that they’re having broken sleep or low-quality sleep. For the body to receive the full rest it needs, it needs to enter into a deep state of sleep called non-REM sleep. This is the stage where our body can fully recover from the day, carrying out important tasks such as repair and recovery. It also allows your organs and brain a chance to rest and prepare for the next day. Those that find they are struggling to get into this stage of sleep could find that their mental and physical health suffers as a result.
What Can Cause Poor Sleeping Habits
Potential reasons for poor sleeping habits can range widely. It could be due to a long-term sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep terrors. However, it can also be due to other areas of your life being affected. For example, many people find that when they’re going through a particularly stressful period of their life, they develop insomnia. Poor sleep is also very commonly linked with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Very often, you can improve sleep by targeting the issue at the root cause. For example, receiving treatment for anxiety and seeing improvements in that can result in sleep habits improving as a result. Those working night-time shift work also commonly find that they are not receiving the necessary quantity of sleep, or that the quality of their sleep suffers due to having to sleep during the day. Conditions such as sleep apnoea can also indirectly cause a lack of sleep as the breathing problems experienced with this condition can lead to broken sleep.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Sleep
Health conditions aren’t always the only reason for poor sleep, as it can also be caused by other smaller lifestyle changes. For example:
- Caffeine consumption
- Changes in routine
- Change in workload
- Travel and time changes
- Changes in temperature
- Alcohol, nicotine, and drug use
- Uncomfortable beds
If you find you’re struggling with sleep, it’s worth taking a look at some of these lifestyle factors to see whether they could be playing a part for you. Sometimes a simple change can be the answer to improving sleep, but if not then you should speak to your doctor about potential further investigations or medication.
There has also been a new discovery of why we could be experiencing a lack of sleep, known as sleep procrastination. So, what is sleep procrastination? This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common. It is usually due to an individual delaying sleep in order to feel like they have more time available to do spend doing other things. This can be due to feeling as though they spend too much time doing other things such as work, childcare, or housework, and don’t have enough time for themselves. Putting off sleep means they are creating more time free time for themselves but to the detriment of their sleep. Common forms of sleep procrastination include watching TV, scrolling on your phone, and playing video games. To learn more about this common habit affecting our sleeping habits, and what can be done to combat it, read Rise Science’s guide to sleep procrastination.
One of the biggest factors affecting people’s sleep in this day and age is digital devices. Whether that’s TV, cell phones, or laptops, they are all making it harder to switch our brains off for the day and drift off to sleep. The blue light emitted from these kinds of devices suppresses melatonin, a key hormone in the production of deep and good-quality sleep. Avoiding using devices for an hour before going to bed, and banning devices from the bedroom are both ways to help you to avoid the temptation to keep checking devices and exposing yourself to blue light. As well as the blue light, these devices also cause us to stay awake, focusing on things such as work emails, social media, or distracting videos. Our brains need to be in the mindset of sleep, and other areas of our life can keep us lying awake at night.
Keeping Your Workspace Separate
One way to help increase your chances of getting off to sleep is to make sure you’re not working in the area in which you sleep. Keeping computers and laptops out of your bedroom and having a separate desk area in another room dedicated exclusively to work will stop your brain from associating your sleep space with being associated with work. Also, avoid using your cell phone in bed and answering emails or working from your bed. If you have a partner, then talking about work before trying to get to sleep can be unhelpful for allowing you both to drift off. Try and keep topics light-hearted and calming if possible. If you’re finding it hard to sleep due to work stresses, then it could be worth discussing time off work or reducing your workload, as nothing is more important than your health.
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