Every night millions of Americans watch the morning sun come up after a restless night of tossing and turning and wonder “why can’t I sleep through the night?” There is a myriad of reasons for sleeplessness that include physiological,mental, environmental, even dietary factors that can hinder a night of recuperative sleep. Here are 5 reasons why you aren’t sleeping through the night, and simple sleep remedies to help you overcome trouble staying asleep.
Stress is a natural part of life, but most of us experience chronic stress on a day to day basis that wreaks havoc on our well-being. Unfortunately chronic stress and sleeplessness go hand in hand. Without adequate sleep your body boosts its levels of stress hormones. The chemicals in the brain associated with deep sleep also tell the body when to stop the production of stress hormones. As a result, a sleepless night (which is its own stress) will cause the body to continue to pump out these hormones throughout the next day which leads to another sleepless night, and so on. In addition to stress hormones, a lack of sleep will lead to a less productive workday which will cause even more stress.
The solution for how to fix your sleep schedule once this cycle begins, will require patience and time. To disrupt the stress cycle try these solutions:
- After 5pm decrease electronics use as much as possible.
- No Caffeine After 12pm.
- Eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates that contain nutrients that promote sleep like melatonin and magnesium.
- Aim to go to bed around the same time every night.
- Take at least one 15-minute relaxation break during the day to help your body stay more balanced and less stressed at the end of the day.
Sleep deprivation can cause a vicious cycle of overeating. Missing just a few hours of sleep per night has been linked to taking in significantly more calories the following day. A Mayo Clinic study found that sleep deprivation also leads to people making poor food choices, which can affect the ability to sleep the next night. Once again you’re caught in a cycle where lack of sleep is both the cause and effect in disrupted sleep.
To solve this issue make the following dietary adjustments:
- The first step toward better sleep is eating well balanced and nutritious meals throughout the day. Be sure that the timing of the meals is spaced out evenly to avoid overeating/undereating.
- Learn your unique GI issues and sensitivities like dairy, spicy food, alcohol, and high fat foods.
- Skip the sugar and caffeine, especially after 5pm.
- Try a warm relaxing tea just before bed.
- Sleeping Posture
A good sleep posture is vital to staying asleep throughout the night. Lack of body support and comfort can lead to tossing and turning as you try to find a comfortable position. It’s generally recommended to change your mattress every 8 years for mattresses and change your pillow every 18-24 months to ensure that you’re getting adequate support for your body. Your pillow especially helps to support a healthy sleep posture, as it’s one and only function is to cradle your head – a heavy part of the body that sits atop your spine where many misalignments originate.
Even if you’re not experiencing any pain now the best pillow for neck pain will have a high level of comfort and support, so why not invest in a quality comfort pillow now to avoid neck pain later. Just be sure to carefully read the ingredients in your pillow to ensure that you are not exposed to the synthetic and potentially harmful ingredients that are found in the common memory foam pillow. Instead look for an organic alternative that doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
- Uncomfortable Bedding
When it comes to selecting your bedding we typically think of the fabrics and fillers that feel good against our skin, but we rarely think of the quality of the materials that we spend hours a day resting on. One reason you may not be sleeping through the night might be the quality of materials that make up your bedding. Rebecca S. Robbins, Ph.D. Sleep Researcher at the NYU School of Medicine, explains that “sleep onset is associated with cool body temperatures, while elevated body temperature can impinge upon our ability to fall asleep and get good sleep quality. Managing body temperature is an important part of healthy sleep.” Bedding made with synthetics like polyester are less breathable and tend to trap heat, waking you up at night from discomfort.
Opt for bedding made with fabrics like cotton, linen, or even wool that contain natural fibers that are breathable and sweat-wicking.
- Put down the Devices
We are all guilty of being nighttime technology users, but winding down for bed is far more challenging after engaging with a device that can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating. When your eyes are glued to a TV, tablet, or smartphone, it delays your circadian rhythm and suppresses the release of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin. Much of these effects are attributed to the artificial blue light that’s emitted by your devices. In addition to delayed sleep due to alertness, your device may also delay and shorten your REM sleep. REM sleep is important because it is the restorative portion of your sleep cycle.
Initiate a digital curfew at least between 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed. The earlier your devices are off the better your mind can begin to slow down and prepare for sleep.
Sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and active lifestyle and should be made a priority to ensure a better quality of life. There are so many thing contending with a restorative full night of sleep, but with continued implementation of these sleeping tips, your body and mind will be better prepared for a night of uninterrupted rest.