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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Restless leg syndrome can be treated. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watching the clock only makes you more anxious and frustrated.
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.
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:
- Exercise daily
- Use your bed for sleep and sex – no work, no TV
- Keep your bedroom at the right temperature for you
- Don’t eat too much before bed
- Don’t drink alcohol, caffeine or chocolate before bed
- 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
|||^||NIH: What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency? in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep|
|||^||Healthy Sleep Harvard Med: Understanding OSA|
|||^||Mayo Clinic: Restless legs syndrome|
|||^||National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use|