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6 Surprising Factors that Might Be Ruining Your Sleep

6 Surprising Factors that Might Be Ruining Your Sleep

If you suffer from poor sleep quality, you’ve probably tried all the classic advice: Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Avoid large meals before bed. Implement a regular bedtime routine that helps you relax. Reduce stress in your daily life.

But sometimes, the classic advice doesn’t cut it. And poor sleep quality, when left unresolved, can wreak havoc on your life. Chronic low-quality sleep can impact virtually every area of your life, from your mood, memory, and decision-making abilities to your physical health.

If you’ve tried all the classic better-sleep strategies but you’re still feeling tired every day, then your sleep deprivation might stem from a more unusual source. Here are six surprising factors that might be ruining your sleep.

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1. Sleeping pills.

This seems counterintuitive. Don’t people take sleeping pills to help their sleep? Yes, of course. The problem isn’t taking sleeping pills every once in a while. Instead, troubles arise when you over-rely on sleeping pills.

Using sleeping pills for more than a few weeks at a time can cause your body to become dependent on them. That means your sleep quality is going to suffer as soon as you go off the pills. Even though it might be tempting to pop a pill for a quick fix every night, you’re better off finding more sustainable solutions for quality sleep.

2. Washing your face before bed.

Many people wash their face each night as part of their bedtime routine. This may be good for your complexion, but it can also inhibit your ability to fall asleep. That’s because getting splashed in the face with cold water shocks the body into alertness. This has an energizing effect—and that’s the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to wind down. As an alternative, consider using warm water to wash your face at night.

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If you really can’t give up the cold water, then consider going all out. There’s some evidence that holding your face in a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds can trigger the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate and can facilitate sleepiness. The difference here is the duration your face is exposed to cold: A splash will wake you up, while (relatively) long exposure will slow down your bodily systems.

3. Peppermint toothpaste.

Note: I am not advising you to stop brushing your teeth at night. But do consider using a flavor other than peppermint. The scent of peppermint has been shown to have an energizing effect that reduces sleepiness, boosts alertness, increase physical energy, and charges up the central nervous system. None of those things are conducive to falling asleep.

4. Charging your phone.

You probably know to avoid screens (whether phone, tablet, computer, or TV) in the hour leading up to bed. That’s because blue light (the kind emitted by electronics) stimulates wakefulness and messes with circadian rhythms.

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What you might not realize is that even a tiny amount of light can disrupt your sleep. That includes the light on your phone, tablet, or computer that turns on when the device is being charged. To avoid this sleep disruption, charge your devices during the day or charge them outside the bedroom if you need to recharge at night.

5. Your sleeping surface.

It won’t surprise anyone that sleeping on a mattress is going to be more conducive to sleep than, say, sleeping in a car or on the recliner in your living room. So, start by sleeping on an actual bed every night. But don’t stop there. It’s important to know that not all mattresses are created equal.

Study after study has found that uncomfortable mattresses can inhibit sleep quality and cause chronic joint pain. In a negative feedback loop, that joint pain can further degrade sleep quality (it’s hard to doze off when you’re in pain).

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For these reasons, it’s critical to invest in finding the right mattress for you. There is no “one best” mattress out there; it’s all about what feels best for your body. The benefits of sleeping on a comfortable mattress include joint pain relief, a healthier spine, improved circulation, and better sleep quality overall.

6. Fifi or Fido.

If your pets sleep in the bed with you, they might be ruining your chances at a good night’s sleep. Studies have found sleeping with a pet can cause sleep disruptions throughout the night and reduce sleep quality overall.

It’s not a guarantee that your pet is wreaking havoc on your sleep—some people find sleeping with an animal can provide a sense of comfort that facilitates sound sleep. But if you’re suffering from poor sleep, it’s worth experimenting with whether you sleep better when Fifi or Fido stays on the floor.

Chronic sleep deprivation is no joke. It can mess with every aspect of your health and decrease your quality of life. So, it’s worth pursuing the issue until you’ve identified the true source of your poor sleep quality—even if it stems from an unusual cause.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Dan Scalco

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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