If you haven’t had any luck with peaceful sleep lately, the cause may be something mundane you are doing every day. You’d be amazed how many things can disrupt your sleep and have you wake up exhausted in the morning. Lack of sleep is not only going to make you less productive and focused but can have consequences to your mental and physical health.
Thankfully, you can start making changes right away by knowing these unexpected things that prevent you from having a quality sleep.
1. Drinking too much coffee
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that affects the central nervous system with a bitter taste. It makes the brain and CNS more active, as well as increases the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. In a nutshell, all these characteristics can disrupt your sleep even though a cup of coffee in the morning makes you feel refreshed.
In a study published in 2013, Christopher Drake and his team observed what effects caffeine has on sleep if taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. The results showed that drinking coffee at any of these times leads to issues with falling asleep and sleep quality. The researchers suggested in their findings that it’s best not to have coffee at least 6 hours before sleep or after 5 PM.
2. You ate right before sleep
Going to bed hungry can prevent you from falling asleep, but eating close to bedtime can do the same. If you are an inconsistent eater, you may be doing your good night’s sleep a disservice. For example, you should have dinner at the same time every day, as well as breakfast and lunch.
While some foods can help you sleep better, like almonds and bananas, the problem lies in when you eat. Moreover, avoid eating anything that falls heavy on the digestion to avoid health problems that may prevent you from falling asleep, like heartburn.
3. Having more than a nightcap before bed
Just like caffeine, alcohol has a stimulating effect on the CNS. It has sedative properties and may seem like a good idea to help you fall asleep. But, during the night alcohol is metabolized and its sedative effect starts to fade. This disrupts your sleep cycle and can disturb the rapid eye movement stage or REM important for memory storage.
Because of this, you will have light sleep and wake up often during the night, feeling exhausted when you wake up. Some of the common problems when sleeping drunk may be sleepwalking, nightmares, and breathing problems. So, one glass of wine can be good, but it’s best to avoid having alcohol altogether or at least not have it every night before bed.
4. Too much light in the room
Light coming from the outside through the windows or open doors of your bedroom can be equally damaging for your sleep as keeping a lamp on. The body’s internal clock known as the circadian rhythm informs you when you should rest and when to be awake. The problem with any light in your bedroom is that it can trick the circadian rhythm into believing it’s daytime and keep you awake.
This happens due to the lower levels of sleep hormone — melatonin, produced as your pineal gland’s reaction to dark, making you drowsy and sleepy. While melatonin supplements may help with sleep disorders, you should consider using other methods to improve your circadian rhythm, like drapes over windows.
5. Room temperature doesn’t suit you
We all have the perfect temperature that will make us comfortable to fall asleep. However, most of us suffer from a sort of Goldilocks dilemma — it’s either too hot or too cold to sleep. To create the best possible environment to sleep, lower the temperature in the room, but don’t make it cold.
Based on expert opinion, the best temperature for a bedroom is 60–71.6°F or 15.6–22°C. Also, consider removing or adding the covers concerning whether you sleep alone, with a partner, a pet, or both.
6. It’s too noisy
While it’s impossible to eliminate all the noises, having as a quieter bedroom as possible is the ideal condition for sleeping. Loud noises coming from the streets and neighbors may seem out of your hands, but besides expensive investment in soundproofing, you can use earplugs. Noise-blocking curtains and sound machines can mask the noises coming to the bedroom, with the latter even able to play soothing sounds and ease you into sleep.
7. You left your phone nearby
Having your phone close by is a big “No” for various reasons if you want to have quality sleep. The first issue is with blue light all screens emit that can disturb your circadian rhythm. Then, there’s the emotional factor that comes with spending time on social media before going to bed.
Instead of charging your phone on your nightstand or using it to wake up, it’s better to get a real alarm clock. That way, you won’t be tempted to check the latest post on social media, YT, or any other place you like to scout for information.
8. You are a smoker
Smoking is always a bed for you! But when it comes to sleeping, in particular, nicotine can cause insomnia because of its mood-modulating nature. Since it’s a stimulant, it can keep you awake when you are tired, so smoking before bed is not a good idea.
Another problem comes with nicotine’s addictive effect on your CNS. During sleep, you may experience the symptoms of withdrawal that will keep you awake. The same is experienced after you quit smoking. However, these effects disappear in a few days, after your brain takes over the systems nicotine hijacked in the first place.
9. Bed linens are uncomfortable
It matters how bed linens feel on your skin, do they make you feel too warm or sweaty at night, or whether they cause allergies. For this reason, you should always use the best and highest quality bed sheets, pillowcases, and covers you can afford. Opt for natural fabrics, like cotton or linen which allow the body to breathe, especially during summer nights.
A general rule is to wash your bed clothes after you open them to remove irritants that may come with packaging. Moreover, wash your bed linens regularly at least once a week and, if possible, have them pressed before putting them to bed. The scent and feel of fresh sheets and pillowcases can make you feel cozy and so help you fall asleep faster.
10. You are thinking too much
If your mind is racing when you go to bed, overthinking about the day or events from the past, it’s a sign to take your mental health seriously. This type of behavior can be due to anxiety or depression, but it may also be an occasional event you can take care of without consulting a doctor.
Try creating meaningless mental lists to quiet your mind, like naming the actors who would be great in a remake of a certain movie. On the other hand, you can try reverse psychology on yourself — instead of convincing yourself to fall asleep, tell yourself to stay awake. Lastly, a more therapeutic approach would be to keep a journal by the bed and write down what makes you think so much.
11. You are reading the most engrossing book
Books may be better than watching TV before bed, but some novels can be too good for you. If a book is emotionally engaging, you may feel too happy or sad to fall asleep. Not to mention books with exciting plots that will have your brain solving mysteries or get your adrenalin high.
Such thrilling books are best kept for afternoons and lunch breaks at work. Instead, go for something that won’t have you feeling so excited about things, like magazines and other light-reading literature.
12. Citrusy and minty smells are all around
Scents of lemon, oranges and other citrus fruits are refreshing and increase energy levels, making you feel more alert. So, if you use fragrances in the room, avoid citrusy smells and go for something calming, like lavender. The same applies to laundry detergent you use, as well as shower gel, shampoo, and any other cosmetic products that you may use before bed.
Moreover, stop using peppermint toothpaste and go for flavors like strawberry instead. Peppermint has the same refreshing effect as citrusy scents and can stimulate the brain to stay awake. It affects the part of your brain that is responsible for clarity and memory, making you pay attention. This applies to anything else with minty scents, so you may be better off having a mint tea with lemon in the morning than coffee.
We all have our quirks, but some may keep us awake at night and ruin our health in the process. These unexpected things that can disrupt your sleep range from uncomfortable bedsheets to overthinking, but they all have a solution — a change of lifestyle. So, the next time you have a restless night, reflect on your habits and see which ones are responsible for your low-quality sleep.