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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

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

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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:

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  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 October 7, 2021

Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

1. Water is a Wise Choice

Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

2. Eggs — The Most Complete Protein

Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

5. Garlic is Really Good for You

This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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9. Ginseng Tea — Chock Full of Ginsenosides

Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

10. Green Tea Fights Aging

Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

11. Dark Chocolate — The Delicious Superfood

Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

13. Raw Honey — A Natural Antioxidant

Saving the sweetest for last!

Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

Indulge in Better Health

But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

Featured photo credit: Joanna Kosinska via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
[2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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