Seven things that are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep

Do you struggle with insomnia? Here are seven things that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, and warning signs you need to get help.

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, obtaining quality sleep is crucial for maintaining physical, mental, and psychological health, as well as improving your overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Just think about how even missing an hour or two of slumber can impact how you feel the next day. It becomes harder for you to think and concentrate while also making you feel moody, irritable, and lethargic.

Over time, if you continue to get by without getting sufficient sleep, you may experience more severe and long-term medical problems, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, depression, and cardiac issues. Sleep deprivation can also elevate the level of stress hormones in your body, breaking down the protein collagen that makes your skin soft and smooth. Thus, it could actually make you look much older than your actual age.

Given all these unpleasant consequences of lack of sleep, you probably have a better appreciation of why you should aim for at least seven hours of restful slumber every night. However, if you have difficulty falling and staying asleep, read on. This article will enumerate the most common reasons for sleep deprivation and what you can do to address them. You will also learn about sleep disorders and when it is time to seek professional help.

What are the usual reasons for poor sleep?

If you are one of the millions of Americans who have a tough time getting a good night’s rest, you may want to go through the following common reasons for poor sleep. After all, it is easy to make adjustments and correct the problem when you know the cause.

Here are seven things that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.

1) A bedroom that is too hot or too cold

Naturally, it is much harder to get comfortable and to fall asleep when the room temperature is either too high or too low as you may start sweating or getting the chills. This is why you should adjust the thermostat to the ideal room temperature (around 65o to 68o F) for a peaceful slumber.

You may also want to buy women’s pajama tops and bottoms that are made of fabrics with thermoregulating features, allowing you to maintain an ideal core body temperature so that you’ll stay cool and comfy all through the night.

2) Exercising right before bedtime

Although getting regular exercise promotes quality sleep and helps improve sleep issues, doing so in the evening could be counterproductive. Vigorous physical activities near bedtime raise your heart rate and core body temperature, which could then make it more challenging for you to fall asleep and to achieve quality sleep.

As such, it might be better to schedule your workout sessions during the day. If that’s not possible, try finishing your activity at least 90 minutes before you sleep to give your body enough time to wind down.

3) Late-night snacking

Another common reason why many are losing restful sleep is their habit of eating and drinking right before bedtime. When you indulge in late-night snacking and then lie down afterward, you may experience heartburn or indigestion.

How can you fall asleep soundly when you feel a burning sensation in your throat or chest or have stomach pain? That said, you may want to eat a healthy and satisfying dinner so that you are not tempted to have a bedtime snack.

4) Too much stimulation before bed

If you have the habit of watching television, playing video games, and using electronic devices before bedtime, you are likely unknowingly causing your own sleeping problem.

These electronic gadgets emit blue light, which can disrupt the brain’s melatonin (sleep hormone) production at night, making it harder for you to feel sleepy. Instead of using devices, you may want to start a bedtime routine to help you relax. Quietly reading a book, listening to calming music, and doing breathing exercises are some of the things you can do to wind down and effectively transition to bedtime.

5) Consuming caffeinated products

Drinking coffee, cola, and energy drinks in the morning can help you get that much-needed energy boost at the start of your day. However, taking them late in the afternoon or close to bedtime could be problematic as their stimulating effects could linger hours later and hinder your ability to sleep.

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine notes that even consuming caffeine six hours before bed can have significant disruptive effects on sleep. That said, you may want to limit your caffeine intake during the day for a restful and satisfying slumber.

6) Stress

For you to sleep faster and more deeply, your body needs to be fully relaxed. That means your heart and breathing rates should be slower, your blood pressure should be lower, and you must feel an overall sense of calmness.

Unfortunately, stress produces the opposite physiological effects, which is why it is much harder to get a night of restful sleep when you feel stressed. Try relieving nighttime stress by doing one or two of the following relaxation techniques:

  • Practicing meditation or deep breathing
  • Journaling or writing down your thoughts and worries
  • Keeping your sleeping environment cool, dark, and with very little noise
  • Drinking herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender 
  • Taking a warm shower or bath

7) Health conditions

Numerous health issues and diseases can also prevent restful slumber. For instance, the drastic drop in progesterone (sleep-promoting hormone) levels and fluctuation of estrogen levels during menopause can lead to sleepless nights.

Diabetes can also make satisfying sleep elusive because its symptoms include night sweats and the urge to urinate frequently during the night. Congestive heart failure, fibromyalgia, thyroid disease, and anxiety are other examples of medical conditions that could deter a good night’s sleep. When you lack sleep because of health issues, make sure to get appropriate care or treatment to resolve the problem.  

What are the most common types of sleep disorder?

Although many sleep issues can be addressed by observing healthy bedtime habits and improving the sleeping environment, sometimes, these changes are not enough. If you experience chronic sleep deprivation that does not improve despite your efforts, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders are conditions that impact the way you sleep. They are caused by various factors, from physical and psychiatric to genetics and environmental causes. There are around 80 types of sleeping disorders. The most common ones are:

  • Insomnia. People with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. Some of them also wake up earlier than they intended and can no longer go back to sleep.
  • Sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), an extreme form of snoring. The airway of a person with OSA becomes partially or completely blocked while sleeping, leading to multiple awakenings at night. 
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a sleep movement disorder that results in an uncomfortable sensation and an irresistible urge to move the legs while lying down trying to fall asleep. 
  • Narcolepsy. People suffering from narcolepsy have difficulty staying awake for prolonged periods. They feel an uncontrollable need to sleep or experience extreme sleepiness at various times throughout the day.

Warning signs that you need help

Apart from impacting your physical, mental, and psychological health, sleep disorders can also compromise your safety and increase your risk of experiencing other health complications. This is why you should consult your doctor immediately if you regularly experience one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Falling asleep while driving
  • Having difficulty staying awake during times of inactivity, like when you are watching television or reading
  • Struggling to concentrate or focus at school, work, or home
  • Experiencing performance issues at school or work
  • Having memory problems
  • Experiencing delayed responses
  • Struggling to control emotions
  • Needing to take naps practically every day
  • Being told by others that you look sleepy

If any of the reasons discussed above is causing you to lose sufficient sleep, you should take the time and effort to make adjustments and adopt helpful habits for a better sleeping experience.

However, if you suspect that you suffer from a sleep disorder after reading the warning signs given here or you have medical conditions that prevent restful slumber, you should seek professional help immediately. Keep in mind that your healthcare provider is the best person to recommend the most appropriate care and treatment approaches based on your unique situation.