Things That Are Ruining Your Sleep
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One of the most common complaints for people in today’s world is that they find themselves chronically sleep-deprived.
It’s not hard to see how this happens, we’re all stressed and preoccupied with work, and our evenings offer us distractions like YouTube and Netflix which make it tempting to stay up far later than we should. And that’s if we’re not heading down to the bar with friends after work.
But there are some nuances to the issue, and it helps to have a clear idea of what some of the main reasons are why you’re struggling to get enough restful slumber.
Read on to learn more.
Digital devices in bed
Sitting in bed surfing the web on our phones, tablets or laptops is one of the worst possible habits we could adopt for our overall sleep quality. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed to cause insomnia.
Why? Here are a few reasons.
For one, digital devices frequently emit high levels of blue-spectrum light, which is responsible for tricking your body into thinking it’s daytime, and suppressing your natural melatonin production (the primary hormone which puts us to sleep).
For another, by stimulating our minds with interesting web articles and videos in bed, we condition ourselves to see our bedrooms as a place for wakeful entertainment, instead of a restful place where sleep happens.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that surfing the web just before trying to go to sleep energises our minds and gets us thinking about things, which makes it hard to then turn around and immediately wind down for sleep.
Caffeine too late in the day
Caffeine is ubiquitous in the world today, almost everyone is on it, no matter where they are. It’s hardly a secret, though, that caffeine can disrupt our sleep patterns and prevent us from dozing off when we want to.
Sometimes people misjudge how long caffeine will affect them for, and carry on knocking back the espressos far later in the day than they should. It’s generally accepted that caffeine has a half-life of around 6 hours, so if you want to guarantee that it’s not directly keeping you up at night, you should really stick to taking it in the early part of the morning.
Going to bed filled with worries
One of the main things that keeps people up at night is that their minds are just too preoccupied with thoughts and worries to be at ease. It can seem like a cruel joke that after feeling exhausted during the day, we finally get into bed and our minds are spinning and spinning — ideas for that holiday coming up, business strategies, and more.
One of the best ways to get around this issue is to do a brain dump at night just before getting into bed. What this means is that you give yourself around 10 minutes or so to write out every idea, interesting thought, and worry that you have, on a piece of paper until you feel like you’ve “emptied” your mind.
You can check up on your list the next day and save any interesting thoughts, but the main point here is giving yourself the head space you need to get to sleep.
Excitement just before sleep
Sleep isn’t just an activity, it’s a whole ritual. Not too long ago in human history, the night was often not a very exciting time. It was dark, and lamplight was the only way of seeing. It was impossible to do most types of work, and everything was very quiet.
Today we have the option (which most of us take) of throwing all of that out the window and watching an action-packed drama or thriller on Netflix just before bed. The issue here is that a pounding heart and an adrenaline rush do not make good sleep-aids.
Save the excitement for other times of day, and weekends, and create a soothing pre-bed ritual, possibly involving a hot bath followed by a good book.
Exercising too late in the day
Some people think it’s a good idea to do some intense physical training just before bed, so that they feel “exhausted”. The problem is that the exhaustion you feel after an intense workout is different to the kind of exhaustion that puts you to bed.
While your muscles may be tired, your brain is actually energised by the rush of hormones that come from the physical exertion, and the net result is that you find it harder to get to sleep.
Save your workouts for the morning, and be lazy at night.