The Sneaky Things That Disrupt Our Sleep
Are you struggling to get a goodnight’s sleep? Does it take you long to finally fall asleep or do you toss and turn through the night?
Most people recognize the importance of sleep but still struggle to get good restful quality of sleep. Often frustrated with why they can’t sleep, they will often resort of over-the-counter sleep medication, without evaluating some of the things that may be leading to their poor sleep habits.
There are many sneaky things in our environment and our bedtime routines that are actually sabotaging our nightly zzz’s. Here are some of the big offenders I see as a common trend in many of my patients (and sometimes in myself):
- Not having a set sleep/wake time: our bodies like routine and work best when we have a schedule. Solution: have a regular sleep/wake time, including on the weekend.
- Screen time before bed: with the advent of tablets and smartphones, many people wind down by reading a book or catching up on the day’s news using a screen. Although reading from books is a great way to wind down at nighttime, their digital counterparts (laptops, tablets, smartphones) emit rays that are disruptive to our melatonin production and stimulating to our brains. Solution: Shut off all electronics at least 30 min prior to bedtime.
- Catching up on violent news from around the world before bedtime: as much as people want to be up to date with what is happening around the world, hearing disturbing news of wars and violence can raise our stress hormones, increasing our blood sugar and disrupting our ability to wind down before bed. Solution: Shift your news catch-up time to some tome during the day. Luckily with Google, we can always stay up to date at any time.
- Setting the alarm on the phone right before sleeping: most of us set our alarm immediately before bed, forcing us to look at bright screens. If you are like me, you likely have to double or triple check you have it set to the right time, just before your fall asleep. The bright lights from our phones our disruptive and will shunt our melatonin production. Solution: Set you next-morning alarm earlier in the evening, and turn your phone to airplane mode 30 min before bedtime. If your phone has the night-time feature, activate it. It helps decrease the blue light from the screen.
- Using warn heavy duvets and bedding: although nothing feels better than a warm comfy bed to crawl into, our bodies need to be cool to get a good rise of natural melatonin in our body to fall into deeper stages of sleep. Even wearing tight fitting pajamas or undergarments can have this same disruptive effect of keeping your body warm throughout the night. Solution: Opt for light airy (preferably minimal) clothing and bedding. Keep the room temperature slightly cool.
- Going to bed hungry: many people have difficulty regulating their blood sugar through the night, either because dinnertime is too early, or wrong types foods are being eaten for dinner. This can cause a drop in blood sugar in the middle of the night, causing that horrid (around) 3am wakeup. Solution: Eat a big handful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) at bedtime. They can help keep your blood sugar stable through the night.
- Going to bed angry. Whether its getting into a fight with your significant other, or discussing an event which angered you earlier in the day, going to bed in a foul mood will increase your stress levels and (similar to the violent news or sleeping hungry) will raise your blood-sugar, disrupting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Solution: make it a priority to resolve arguments before bed, or come to an understanding and agree to resolve in the morning. As long as you go to bed with a peaceful state of mind.