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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

The Common Causes of Sleep Problems (And How to Fix Them Fast)

The Common Causes of Sleep Problems (And How to Fix Them Fast)

By now, the importance of getting a good nights sleep is settled science. While research varies on how much sleep is ideal, no one doubts that sleep is critical to optimal health, performance and mood.

That said, we don’t need research to recognize the benefits of sleep. We see it for ourselves. Without sleep we feel less energetic and alert. Our memories are poorer, reaction times slower. Some of us are less happy, more irritable and moody.

But a good nights sleep remains elusive for millions of people. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 1 in 3 adults don’t get the recommended amount of 7 hours per sleep per night.[1]

We’re going to show you 10 of the most common sleep problems, why do you have these issues and how to fix them without drugs or medication.

1. Anxiety

How many times does your mind lock onto a work or family issue, conversation you replay over and over again or challenge you face as you try to get to sleep. You lie awake desperately trying to rid yourself of the worry, but the issue plays in your mind over and over again.

Solution

There are several strategies you can employ to try to calm your mind.

First, get up and go to another room, keeping the lights off. Your anxious thoughts will usually disappear immediately. Then go back to your room and get to sleep.

Second, try reading a book until you’ve gotten your mind off your worries. Wait until you’re sleepy enough and nod off to sleep.

Another solution is to write a list of what you need to get done the following day, before you go to bed. Feeling disorganized can cause significant anxiety. Writing a “To Do” list will calm your nerves and help you tackle your day when you wake up.

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2. Snoring

Trying to get to sleep with a trombone in your ear is no easy task. Barring exchanging your snoring spouse for a non-snoring one, or sleeping in separate rooms, there are a few things you can do to return some quiet to your life.

Solution

First, ask your partner to sleep on their side. That may work long enough for you to get to sleep before they start snoring.

Second, try listening to sound cancelling white noise with headphones while you sleep. The challenge will be ensuring your ear phones stay in your ears while you toss and turn throughout the night. But if you can find a pair that stay snug, white noise works wonders.

Lastly, see if your partner can try a new pillow, losing wait, avoiding alcohol before bead, or breath right strips.

3. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and snoring are night the same.[2] Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

However, many people who have sleep apnea snore. It basically results in the inability for you to breeth freely while you sleep. It’s caused by a “floppy”, narrow throat.

When you have trouble breathing, you wake up. This can occur repeatedly throughout the night, making it difficult if not impossible to get uninterrupted sleep.

Solution

The most common non-surgical treatments are weight loss, oxygen, position changes and oral appliances.

The most common treatment, with the highest success rate, is called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Basically, an oxygen mask is placed over your nose and mouth and the air that is blown into you, keeps the airway from collapsing.

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4. Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is an involuntary urge to move your legs while your asleep or resting. It can also be accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling in your legs.

Restless leg syndrome can make it difficult for both you and your partner to sleep and stay asleep during the night.

Solution

Restless leg syndrome can be treated.[3] Aside from medications, too little iron can also be a cause of restless leg syndrome.

Give your doctor a visit, as you may want to get tested for iron deficiency and discuss the best way to increase your iron intake, whether through diet, supplements or intravenously.

5. Temperature

Too hot, or too cold and it’s difficult to get a good sleep. We all know the feeling of tossing and turning as our sheets stick to our bodies on a hot night.

Solution

Air conditioning is the obvious and easiest way to control the temperature while you sleep. But if that’s not available, fans can work remarkably well.

Have the right covers on hand. A duvet or warm blanket for cool nights and a lighter blanket or sheet for hot nights. You can also adjust your clothing, even sleeping in your birthday suit to keep yourself cool!

6. Raging Hormones

Mostly afflicting women during menopause, varying levels of estrogen and progesterone can play havoc with your sleep.

Even before hot flashes, you may notice yourself waking up in the middle of the night, for no apparent reason.

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Solution

To help, try sleeping in a cooler room and wearing lighter clothing. You can also try exercising earlier in the day and avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening.

If none of that works, you can speak to your doctor about hormone therapy.

7. Alcohol

We usually think alcohol make a good “nightcap”, helping us go to sleep. While that’s true for the first half of your sleep, research has shown that it actually contributes to disturbed sleep the second half of your night![4]

Moreover, the same research shows that people develop a rapid tolerance to alcohol, making it ineffective as a sleep inducer after only a few weeks.

Solution

The solution is simple, stay off the drink.

If you find that having some wine with dinner sits well with you, keep at it.

However, if you can’t figure out why you’re waking up in the middle of the night, see if cutting out the alcohol helps. Especially if you’re having a drink to help you go to bed.

8. Caffeine

Great for the morning. At night? Not so much.

You may find that as you get older, you get even more sensitive to the wakeful effects of caffeine.

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Solution

Avoid caffeine later in the day. In fact, with caffeine staying in the system for up to 10 hours, some people can feel the effects of caffeine from lunch!

While some like the calming effects of tea in the evening, try herbal teas or caffeine-free tea after dinner. Have decaf coffee for dessert after dinner.

Other caffeine culprits to avoid in the evening, colas, energy bars, many hot chocolates, some decaf coffee, energy drinks, sport drinks and chocolate.

9. Clock Watching

Nothing is more frustrating than telling yourself you want to sleep by 11:00, only to see 11:01, 11:02, 11:03…. showing up on your clock. Or what about when you wake up at 4 am and realize you only have another 2 hours of sleep before your alarm rings.

Stressful.

Watching the clock only makes you more anxious and frustrated.

Solution

Get rid of all the clocks, watches and phones by your bed. None should be visible or reachable from your bed. This will prevent you from catching a peak of the time in the middle of the night and rid you of one more piece of anxiety you don’t need.

Just close your eyes and go back to bed. Knowing the time won’t help you get more sleep. However, it more than likely will keep you up at night.

Conclusion

No matter which sleep affliction keeps you up at night, there are several things you can do to increase the odds of a good nights sleep:

  1. Exercise daily
  2. Use your bed for sleep and sex – no work, no TV
  3. Keep your bedroom at the right temperature for you
  4. Don’t eat too much before bed
  5. Don’t drink alcohol, caffeine or chocolate before bed
  6. Solve the issue that’s keeping you up at night. See a doctor if necessary.

Find out the reason why you’re having sleep problems and fix it with the suitable solution.

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep
[2] Healthy Sleep Harvard Med: Understanding OSA
[3] Mayo Clinic: Restless legs syndrome
[4] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use

More by this author

Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on March 10, 2021

10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It

10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can put in your body. It can help you focus, fight aging, and even give you an energy boost! You’ve probably heard a lot about green tea benefits and how it is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that are great for your body and mind.

In this article, you will learn about the health benefits of green tea and how you can drink it to enjoy it best (for its taste and benefits).

What Is Green Tea Good for?

Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Originating in China but widely used throughout Asia, this beverage has a multitude of uses, from lowering blood pressure to preventing cancer.

The reason that green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for oxidation (the same process that makes an apple go from white to brown), whereas green tea’s processing avoids the oxidation process[1]. As a result, green tea retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols, the substances that give green tea its many benefits.

Furthermore, green tea has significantly less caffeine black tea, meaning that it leads to less of a “slump” after drinking it. It will offer you energy without the intense caffeine kick that black tea and coffee often lead to.

Let’s dive more into the various benefits of drinking green tea.

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10 Green Tea Benefits for Your Body and Mind

While a great deal is known about the benefits of green tea, more research is still needed in order to expand our knowledge on just how green tea benefits us. Here are some green tea benefits currently supported by research.

1. Weight Loss

Green tea is known to decrease inflammation in the body, aiding in the weight loss process. More research is needed, but one study found that “the combination of GTE and exercise also produced greater changes in anti‐inflammatory (increases in adiponectin) and metabolic (decreases in hs‐CRP) markers than exercise alone”[2]

If you’re looking to lose weight, exercise is the first step, but adding in green tea can help speed up the process, even if only slightly. Check out this article if you want to find out more about this: Is Drinking Green Tea An Effective Way For Weight Loss?

2. Increased Satiety

One study on how green tea affects insulin levels found that, while green tea had no effect on insulin levels after a meal, it did increase feelings of satiety, which means that study participants were less likely to continue eating[3]. This can have positive effects on health by helping you consume less calories.

3. Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Scientists believe that green tea works on the lining of blood vessels, helping keep them stay relaxed and better able to withstand changes in blood pressure. It may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks.

One study found that, in general, coffee and certain types of teas (including green tea) reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease[4].

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4. Reduce the Risk of Esophageal Cancer

One of the most impressive green tea benefits is that it is thought to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, but it is also widely thought to kill cancer cells in general without damaging the healthy tissue around them.

In one study, researchers found that the high concentrations of tea polyphenols “have shown inhibitory effects against the development, progress, and growth of carcinogen‐induced tumors in animal models at different organ sites, including the esophagus and lung”[5]. While this kind of research needs to be replicated in more studies, it does suggest that green tea can slow the growth of some types of cancers.

5. Reduce Cholesterol

One literature review looked at 31 trials involving studies on green tea and cholesterol and found that, in general, “green tea intake significantly lowered the total cholesterol”[6]. It specifically seems to target LDL as opposed to HDL, which an important distinction to keep in mind if you’re trying to target a certain type of cholesterol.

6. Delay Effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Green tea is thought to delay the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One research review discovered that “results seem to support the hypothesis that green tea intake might reduce the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or cognitive impairment”[7]. However, many more well-designed studies are needed to provide decisive evidence for this.

7. Slow Tooth Decay

The bioactive compounds in tea, like polyphenols-flavonoids-catechins, have antibacterial properties that inhibit not only bacteria but acid production[8]. Research suggests that this is the reason green tea has been shown to prevent cavities and tooth decay. This doesn’t mean you should stop brushing your teeth, but it does mean that green tea can really help when it comes to oral hygiene!

8. Lower Blood Pressure

Regular consumption of green tea is thought to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. One literature review found that several studies concluded that green tea significantly reduces both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure[9].

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9. Depression

While several studies have shown that a higher consumption of green tea leads to lower levels of depression in elderly individuals, more human trials are needed to determine the way green tea influences depressive symptoms. In one study on mice, green tea polyphenols were shown to have antidepressant-like effects, suggesting that the same could be true in humans[10].

10. Antiviral Properties

Tea catechins are strong antibacterial and antiviral agents that make them effective for treating a variety of infectious diseases[11]. While they may not prevent you from getting a viral infection, they may help reduce their severity, which is a great green tea benefit.

How Much Green Tea Should You Drink?

These are some of the many benefits of green tea, but the reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all the abundant gains. The jury is out on how many cups are necessary; some say as little as two cups a day while others insist that it’s five cups of green tea for the full benefits. If you are thinking of going down this route, you may want to consider taking a green tea supplement instead.

Potential Risks of Drinking Green Tea

There is caffeine in green tea. If you are sensitive to caffeine, then one cup a day should be your limit. Here’s a way to help you reduce a bit of caffeine in it:

How To Enjoy Green Tea By Reducing Caffeine In It

Green tea also contains tannins, which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, then green tea may not be ideal for you.

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How to Drink Green Tea

The best temperature to brew green tea at is about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply let boiling water cool for about two minutes to achieve this temperature. Add the sachet of tea and let it steep for three minutes. You can then remove the sachet and enjoy your tea!

You can also try mixing green tea with other healthy ingredients, such as ginger, a healthy and tasty beverage option.

You can also try matcha, a specific type of green tea that has a thicker texture.

Final Thoughts

Green tea is an ideal beverage for those looking for its delicious flavor, as well as its many health benefits. It’s important to remember that it does contain some caffeine, so it’s best to avoid drinking it about 6 hours before bed. Whether you want to lower your cholesterol, reduce symptoms of depression, or slow tooth decay, green tea can help, so start brewing a cup today!

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Featured photo credit: Matcha & CO via unsplash.com

Reference

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