Suggestions for Superior Slumber
How did you sleep last night? Did you know that your ability to sleep well at night is directly correlated with other aspects in your life? Most of us already know that technology can affect the quality of slumber; things like watching TV before bed or sleeping with the television on, keeping your phone on your bedside table (Guilty!), and those kinds of things greatly affect the quality of sleep you’re getting. There are other aspects too. Below, you’ll find several reasons why you may not be sleeping well, and some suggestions for how to change it.
Did you eat a large meal for dinner?
Eating in general raises your blood sugar levels. When you’re sleeping, your body is fasting, or abstaining from food and/or drink, and eating too close to bedtime makes you more susceptible to a blood sugar crash during the night.
Did you and your partner have a disagreement?
Who hasn’t fought with their partner at one time or another, right? Having an emotionally charged discussion or disagreement with your partner before bed raises your stress levels. Being fatigued can cause an overreaction of emotions and you may lash out at your partner as a result. If you’ve had a difficult exchange, try allowing yourself some time to unwind. Taking some time to review the conversation and gain some perspective will help you to reach a more relaxed state before turning out the light.
Do you follow a bedtime routine?
As every parent knows, having a routine incorporated before sleep is paramount. Just like children, adults can benefit from a routine before bed. Try taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or even reading a book. Having a routine can help you to become accustomed to the steps and prepare your body and mind for sleep.
Do you have a sleeping schedule?
Non-REM and REM sleep cycles are predominantly regulated by our internal biological clocks, or circadian rhythms. These typically run on a 24-hour cycle and control our sleeping and waking times as well as the biological functions that take place while we sleep. Having varying sleep/wake times, and amounts of sleep, disturb our bodies’ natural rhythms and have negative side-effects such as poor cholesterol levels and a higher body mass index, as well as greater insulin resistance compared to those who have a set sleeping schedule.
How old is your mattress?
There are some surprising ways that your old mattress can affect not only your quality of sleep, but also your health. According to studies, sleeping on an older mattress can exacerbate stress and body pain, as well as worsen allergies due to the build-up of dust mites typically residing in old mattresses. Not sleeping well? Your mattress could be the culprit. There are over 50 facilities in North American alone for recycling your old mattress.
What kind of mattress are you sleeping on?
Finding the right mattress with the proper amount of support is key to a good night’s rest. Sleeping on a mattress that sleeps hot or doesn’t relieve pressure points can have some serious consequences. When looking for a new mattress, make sure to take time to test it out to find the one that’s right for you.
Do you know how much sleep you require?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, an average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep a night. There are factors that play into exactly how much sleep you really need and even tests online to make the determination. It’s time to see for yourself!
Are you physically active on a regular basis?
There is a very strong connection between exercise and sleep. Being physically active, especially on a regular basis, reduces stress, tires you out, and increases the duration and quality of your sleep. It’s time to get that gym membership!
Do you stay hydrated throughout the day?
How much water do you drink throughout the day? Studies show that dehydration is the number one cause of being tired during the daytime. So just imagine what it can do when you’re sleeping. Chronic dehydration reduces the amount of imperative amino acids that are used to create melatonin. Melatonin is directly connected to our natural circadian rhythms. If you’re not drinking enough water, you’re not creating enough melatonin, and this makes it difficult for your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. So, drink up!
What’s the temperature in your bedroom?
“Sleeping hot” is the number one complaint from mattress-buying consumers. According to sleep.org, the ideal temperature in your bedroom should be between 60°-67°F for choice sleep. Upon laying down, your body temperature reduces in preparation for sleep, and these recommended temperatures can help to expedite the process.
How stressed are you overall?
An inordinate amount of stress can make you more susceptible to insomnia. The question is whether the insomnia is causing the stress, or if the reverse is the case. Stress affects our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and even our behaviors, so it stands to reason that stress will also affect the amount, and quality, of sleep. Stress can prevent you from getting to sleep and from getting an adequate amount of sleep. When you’re stressed, your brain is sent into overdrive, and it can readily become a cycle, and a vicious one at that; you’re stressed so you can’t sleep, and the lack of sleep causes more stress, and so on…
Did you drink coffee after dinner?
As we all know, coffee (typically) equals caffeine and caffeine promotes energy. The benefits of caffeine, and the drawbacks, are dependent on the amount of caffeine consumed. Caffeine, specifically coffee and tea, is considered a stimulant and acts as a “adenosine receptor antagonist”. Adenosine is a substance your body creates that encourages drowsiness to help your body/mind settle down so that you can sleep. The most obvious effect is difficulty falling asleep, and one study found that caffeine can delay the timing of your circadian rhythm and this can reduce your sleep time overall.
Here’s to hoping that we all sleep better tonight!