Why Sleeping Is Most Important For Health
1) Too much caffeine
You already know caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your ability to fall asleep. But did you know it can also lead to poor quality sleep? Caffeine has a three to five-hour half-life which means it takes your body that much time to get rid of half the caffeine you consumed. The bottom line is, you may feel the effects of caffeine several hours after you consume it even. Keep in mind, energy drinks, cola, chocolate and certain teas also contain caffeine. Your best bet is to avoid caffeine about six hours before bed.
Stress and lack of sleep seem to go hand in hand. If you’re stressed, it can be hard to sleep well and lead to middle-of-the-night insomnia. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can also lead to more stress. According to the American Psychological Association, adults who get less than eight hours of sleep each night report higher levels of stress symptoms than those who sleep longer. Although it can be easier said than done, it’s important to unwind and unplug before bed.
3) Sleep environment
Your sleep environment can contribute to poor sleep. For example, loud noises can jolt you from a sound slumber or light peeking through the shades can wake you. Fortunately, there are ways to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly. Invest in a quality mattress and comfy bedding and consider keeping your bedroom cool which, most people find, helps sleep. Make sure your curtains are heavy enough to block out sunlight and use a white noise machine or earplugs to block sounds from outside.
4) An aching back
Back pain can disrupt sleep and leave you struggling to find a comfortable position. If you have chronic back pain, it’s important to treat the underlying cause. Also, your sleep position can make a big difference in your comfort level. The right position for you may depend on whether your upper or lower back aches. To take the pressure off your back, Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping on your side with your knees slightly pulled up towards your chest, with a pillow between your knees.
When there is an imbalance or a fluctuation, shifting hormones can contribute to sleep disturbances. A woman’s menstrual cycle, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause often cause hormonal changes that may affect their quality of sleep. For example, decreased estrogen can lead to hot flashes which wake you up. You can’t always control your hormones but you can make your environment conducive for sleep, unwind before bed and stick to the same sleep schedule. If those strategies don’t help, talk with your doctor. Hormonal replacement therapy or additional treatment may be an option.
6) Eating too late
A light midnight snack may be fine but a heavy meal too close to bedtime may leave you tossing and turning through the night. Eating large portions before you hit the sack can lead to indigestion and acid reflux. If you want a snack before bed, keep it light and stay away from spicy and greasy foods.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2016.