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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

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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