5 Reasons Why You Struggle to Sleep
There is nothing more important to our health than getting a good night’s sleep. I know when I get less than what my body needs, my entire next day is completely thrown off. I mean, how can I properly concentrate on my deadlines while barely keeping my eyes open the next morning? The lack of sleep each night can really sabotage your performance, drive, and ability to function.
To think that sleep is equal to eating a healthy diet for us to maintain proper health isn’t too mind boggling, even if the relationship between the two is just now being found out. Obesity and sleep deprivation appear to go hand-in-hand, along with several related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. I would’ve never guessed weight gain was impacted by the amount of shut-eye you need, but the link is there.
The good news is you can completely reverse sleep-related health conditions by changing your sleep habits.
Reason #1: Sleeping In
This one is a drag. Most of us probably set our alarms for 5:30 AM every morning and mutter how much we can’t wait for Saturday so we can sleep in. Maybe we even stay up late Friday night painting the town. It’s become a tradition, week in and week out, but little do we realize how badly this throws off our internal clock.
Essentially, sleeping in Saturday morning sets off a chain reaction of inappropriate sleeping conditions the rest of the weekend. We stay up later Saturday night, knowing once again we can sleep in Sunday morning. Guess what happens on Sunday? Our sleeping habits have been reprogrammed. We stay up later Sunday night and then feel like garbage Monday morning when 5:30 AM rolls around again.
Reason #2: Inconsistent Sounds
If you’re stuck in a place where sleeping conditions are the opposite extreme of what you desire, a fan or white noise machine might do the trick, even if you prefer silence, suggests Thomas Roth, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Turning on a fan in the hallway outside the door can do a lot to cut down on the noise around you (like traffic or noisy neighbors) or is a perfect substitute if you need noise to fall asleep.
“This will act as white noise, both blocking out disruptive sounds and providing just enough noise for those who can’t stand total silence,” says Roth.
Reason #3: Eating Food
This one can go both ways. If you have a habit of eating a large meal before hitting the sack, as most of us are probably guilty of at times, the food digesting in your gut can keep you awake. This is especially true for high-protein foods, as they require more time and energy to digest.
Fatty and spicy foods, along with anything else that disagrees with you, can cause gas, heartburn, and discomfort, which are all things to avoid if you hope to fall asleep peacefully. And of course, do I need to mention staying away from caffeine? It’s a major stimulant that will make sleep difficult.
Reason #4: Soreness and Pain
Pain and sleep loss often go hand-in-hand. According to Patrick Finan, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, there’s a direct link between sleep and pain. Often times, it’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself. Less sleep often causes more pain and more pain will steal your sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation has found that only 36% of people who have soreness or pain say they sleep well and wake up feeling rested. That’s because the lack of sleep only heightens your sensitivity to pain, but when you’re in pain, you have a more difficult time falling asleep. If you have chronic pain, the best thing to do is to treat that first with physical therapy, massage, and chiropractors. Once your pain is under control, sleep will come easier and the cycle will reverse itself.
Reason #5: Snoring
Did you know a person’s snore can be as loud as a blender going full blast? That’s as much as 90 decibels. It’s safe to say you’re not peacefully sleeping when a partner is sawing logs that big in bed next to you. If their snoring is a regular thing, it’s suggested they see a doctor first to rule out a more serious condition, such as sleep apnea.
First, ask your partner to sleep on their side instead of the back. If that doesn’t work, consider purchasing a Sona pillow. The Sona pillow was designed by a Harvard neurologist and has been approved by the FDA to tilt the head a certain way that has been proven to reduce and even eliminate snoring in most cases.
Sleep is a wonderful and precious thing. If you find yourself feeling groggy in the morning or waking up throughout the night, it’s important to pinpoint why and correct the issue immediately. Keep a sleep journal to track your sleeping habits to help you and your doctor diagnose any condition or illness that may be causing your insomnia.