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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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