As you lay your head down on your pillow, get comfortable, snuggle under your covers, begin to close your eyes, then;
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
You try to fall asleep, but your eyes and mind are wide awake. Ugh, another night fighting to get the much-needed rest from your day.
Those of you who have trouble sleeping at night are not alone. Many people have trouble sleeping, which can bring about much tiredness and frustration. These feelings are normal, real, and bring you to your wit's end. Lack of sleep can rob you of so much, placing you in a mental frenzy.
Why do I have trouble sleeping? What can I do to help me get to sleep and stay asleep?
Trying to overcome sleepless nights can be difficult, but there are many ways to work through lack of sleep. Let’s explore ten possible reasons for this common sleeping problem and share some tips to help you work through them.
1- Have a Sleep Schedule
Take the time to have and maintain a sleep schedule, in doing so, will prevent poor sleeping habits that can hurt you in the long run.
If your bedtime is 9:30 p.m. and wake up time is 5:00 a.m., it is important to maintain this as your daily schedule. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule not only helps your
body to know what to expect, and providing a daily routine will synchronize to your body’s internal clock helping your mind and body function at its best.
Tip: Take a warm shower or bath before your bedtime; this will give you a solid 8-hours of sleep. Add a cool room to the mix, and you’ll be counting sheep in no time.
2- Too Much Light
Believe it or not, too much light exposure can impact your sleep. How? Blue light.
Blue light is a color that is a visible light that can be seen by the human eyes. It releases a high amount of energy and is found naturally (sunlight), which is good for the body (e.g., Vitamin D). However, blue light can be found in fluorescent and LED lighting, smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices.
Tip: Whether if it sitting in front of the television, checking your phone and social media, dim your lamp or turn it off. Do this at least one hour before bedtime, turn the lights on low and begin to limit the use of technology.
Yeah, ain’t nothing better than drinking that cup of Joe, but you might want to reconsider this. The half-life of coffee is about 4+ hours, which means you may receive that ‘pick-me-up’ quickly at first, but it will stay in your body for much longer than expected.
Even if you think you can handle a large dose of caffeine in the afternoon, be careful! That cup of coffee will come to haunt you during the evening hours when you’re ready to catch some sleep.
Tip: Go for an afternoon walk or jog, drink plenty of water, or even eat a simple high protein snack(e.g., almonds, bananas with peanut butter, or whole-grain cereal with milk).
Late night pizza or a big bag of chips with salsa. Yum!
A good late night snack is where it’s at, but can be the cause of not much sleep. Eating a large amount of fat or protein before bedtime, this awakens your digestive system putting more work in than preparing to rest for the night.
Slow down a bit and choose your snack wisely.
Tip: Eat lighter snacks like peanut butter with apple or sliced white turkey and celery. Whatever you choose, be careful what you eat!
5- Exercise - weight loss
Finding the time to fit in exercise can be a challenge. If you’re on a weight loss journey, congrats! Although trying to lose weight takes discipline and daily effort, certain times during the day can do more harm than good for your body.
Going for a fast-paced, heart-throbbing, marathon run before your scheduled bedtime is not the way to go. Consider taking a stroll with your dog or loved one instead.
Tip: Schedule morning work-outs or try working out during your lunch hour.
Sleep is the best Meditation.” -Dalai Lama
6- Sleep Apnea
A serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly starts and stops is called sleep apnea, which causes sleeplessness. Chronic snoring is a strong indicator for this condition and should be diagnosed by a health professional.
The cause of this health condition may include:
● Small upper airway
● Alcohol and smoking
If this condition is left untreated extreme sleeplessness can occur, being excessively tired, and other major risk factors.
Tip: Seek a health professional to diagnosis, recommend treatment options (weight loss), and continued care.
7- Depression - mental wellness/mental health
Depression, as defined in Psychology Today, is a complex disorder where it affects the body and its immune system either as “cause or effect.” In this case, depression “disrupts sleep and it interferes with appetite, in some cases causing weight loss, in others weight gain.”
There are many forms of depression, regardless of what form of depression is present. Good mental healthis necessary and beneficial for you in the long run. Look at the many factors which you have already read on this list!
Tip: If you ever feel like you’re not yourself, make sure to seek a mental health professional to help you on a good track toward healthy mental wellness.
Sometimes you may need to have your doctor prescribe medications for a better night’s sleep, which may be the answer to your sleep problems. However, they can cause some side effects to a good night’s rest. Some over-the-counter medications can have the same impact as well.
It may be as simple as a common cold, flu, or cough that can keep you up all night, or it may be a chronic condition that needs further medical attention.
Tip: It is important to talk with your doctor about your symptoms and not try to self-diagnose if you haven’t slept for some time.
9- Sharing Bed Space
It may be comforting to sleep next to your loved one - whether a human being or a furry four-legged friend - it is a good idea to assess who may be disrupting your sleep. You may not want to kick your partner or spouse off the bed, but if they are a consistent snorer, you might want to have them sleep on their side. If it continues, professional help is needed.
As for your furry friend, they may need to need another location for a while so you can adjust and gain more hours of sleep.
Tip: Try to adjust to a different sleeping pattern sharing bed space. Talk to your partner or spouse about what ways you can work together on a new sleeping arrangement.
10- Stress and Worry
The most common non-medical reason for lack of sleep is worry and stress. Filling your mind with thoughts that focus on the negative is not the answer. It is important to take the time to breathe, focus on positive thoughts, create new mental behaviors while not allowing the negative thoughts to take control over you.
Tip: Try peaceful mind exercises by writing down your worries before bedtime or practice daily meditation to help ease your thoughts.
Key words: mental wellness, mental health, weight loss, Wellness Warrior Program