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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

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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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