The sound of your alarm clock is never pleasant. It cuts through your bedroom’s quiet stillness like a saw; Its groan-inducing effects made worse by another night of tossing and turning. Waking up poorly can even make a well-deserved weekend feel like a pair of Mondays.
Not getting enough sleep sucks. It makes the simplest obstacle seem insurmountable and what’s worse, it can feel unfixable. But don’t get discouraged! A restful night’s sleep, and in turn, a productive day is just a few proactive decisions away.
Today on Healthversed, we break down seven reasons that people reach for their snooze button and how to fix them. Let’s go!
Bad Habit – Tech in Bed
If the last thing you see before your go to sleep is a glowing screen, then you may be setting yourself up for failure. E-readers, tablets, cell phones and television screens have been shown to disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Even more, your nasty habit of pre-bed screen time disrupts your brain’s ability to regulate melatonin and, in turn sleep.
And that’s merely your body’s physical reaction to electronic devices. Add to that the not-so-relaxing emotional stress borne from excessive nighttime social media usage. If you find yourself struggling with sleep quality, it may be your phone’s fault.
How to Fix It – Power Off
If you’re looking to overhaul your evening routine, try pulling the plug. The pros recommend turning off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before settling down for bed.
I know you’re probably wondering how you’re expected to fill 30 minutes of device-free down time. Personally, I use the time to prepare my lunch for the following day, wash my face, brush my teeth and, if I’m up for it, read a book. Old fashioned, I know, but not only is reading before bed infinitely better than a quick status update, it may even help you sleep better.
Bad Habit – Stressing before Sleep
Bills, social obligations, work. Modern life can be stressful, and stress can wreak havoc on your daily dose of Zs in a variety of different ways. We’ve all found ourselves lying awake, replaying stressful scenarios in our heads. Stress can also dramatically affect an individual’s sleep quality and up your insomnia risk. Add to that, waking up the next morning exhausted and unprepared for the day ahead can snowball a stressful, sleepless cycle.
But don’t stress, you’re merely a mouse-click away from a stress-free life. Sort of.
How to Fix It – Meditation
Practicing meditation on a regular basis can fight depression, lessen anxiety, lower blood pressure, and alleviate stress, among other things. You can visualize alongside a guided meditation video, repeat a calming mantra, or improve mindfulness with breath exercises. The key is to first find a meditation strategy that you enjoy and then make time, every day, to practice!
The best part about meditation is that you can do it in the car, on your lunch break, or right now! All you have to do is focus on your breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Feel better?
Bad Habit – Inactivity
This study suggests that every hour of inactivity adds 3 minutes to the time that it takes to fall asleep. A whole work day could leave you with half an hour of missed sleep, keep that in mind next time you postpone bedtime in favor of browsing Netflix.
Your body requires a certain level of exercise per week to function properly. Without it, your metabolism slows down, your confidence shrinks, your anxiety levels increase and in turn, your sleep patterns suffer.
How to Fix It – Exercise More
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A regular exercise routine can play a role in overall sleep quality.
It’s true! Countless studies have shown that moderate physical activity, around 150 minutes per week, can improve overall sleep quality. We’re talking an upward tick in sleep quality of up to 65%! That’s nothing to shrug away. If exercise isn’t a priority for you, make it one. Even if it’s a short, 20-minute walk per day. You will notice a difference.
Bad Habit – Your Multi-Purpose Bedroom
If you’re anything like me, you spent your college years watching TV, reading, listening to music, and eating from the comfort of your bedroom. Such is the unavoidable downside of having roommates, living with your parents, or residing in a college dorm It’s also terrible for your sleep cycle.
You see, humans are programmed to sleep at night and be up and about during the daylight hours. As such, the light emitted from your laptop, tablet and cell phone promotes wakefulness. Add to that, the use of electronic devices in the bed has been shown to disrupt your circadian rhythm. If you have a habit of browsing in bed, you might be setting yourself up for another restless night.
How to Fix It – Establishing a Sleep Centre
The fix is actually quite simple. All you have to do is turn your bedroom in to a haven for sleep. You don’t have to upgrade your mattress, or invest in a set of high quality blinds, just refrain from watching Netflix from the comfort of your covers! Keep your laptop on a nearby desk, the place where work belongs. Leave your phone on a nearby dresser to charge, instead of a bedside table. If the temptation is too great, you have to make your distraction difficult to reach.
Bad Habit – Poor Sleep Patterns
Dear shift workers, I’m sorry. We sympathize because your occupation dramatically affects your sleep pattern and overall health, there’s not much we can do to fix that.
Maintaining a routine sleep schedule can be just as important as getting a full eight hours. We’d all love to squeeze out a few extra hours of work, or another episode of our favorite show, but if you stay up past your bedtime, expect to pay for it. The secret behind getting a good night’s sleep is routine, and altering it comes at a cost.
How to Fix It – Maintain a Sleep Schedule
This is incredibly important. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule not only ensures more sleep, but it also guarantees a more restful sleep.
Try your very best to hit the hay at the same time, and wake up at the same time, every single day. No more burning the midnight oil on Friday and Saturday, only to pay for it on Monday. Go to bed at a proper time, and wake up at a proper time, even on weekends.
Bad Habit – Constant Sleep Disruptions
Sure, “avoiding sleep disruptions” sounds obvious, but we all endure our fair share of unnecessary interruptions. I’m not talking about your dog unexpectedly arguing with a ghost, or an unavoidable late-night snack. I’m talking about noises from electronic devices, snoring partners, light creeping in through the windows, and more. If you don’t systematically eliminate recurring sleep disruptions, then a groggy morning commute is inevitable. Luckily, we have a few ideas that may be able to help!
How to Fix It – Eliminate the Problem at the Source
First, start by writing down a list of annoyances that have been waking you up. Then, deduce their cause and brainstorm ways to eliminate them. Is there too much light creeping through your window? Get better blinds or try an eye mask. Does your phone light up or make noise at all hours of the night? Shut it off, set it to silent mode, or keep it in another room. Are your neighbors loud? Try a white noise machine or an app that can simulate one.
Bad Habit – Too Much Caffeine
You’ve spent the night tossing and turning, only to fall asleep way too late, and get awake way too early. So, you reach for a warm cup of Joe and begin the cycle all over again. And what a restless cycle it is.
Although caffeine isn’t inherently bad for you, it can impact your sleep dramatically if you abuse it. If you tend to brew late into the evening, coffee could be exacerbating any sleep troubles you may already be having.
How to Fix It – Cut Back Or…
There are many energy boosting alternatives at your disposal. Go for a walk, eat an apple, drink a glass of water, or hit the gym. No, that caffeine-free energy drink doesn’t count. Nice try though.
Not interested in kicking the dark roast? Limit your intake to the first half of the day. Or, at the very least, don’t drink coffee 6 hours before you go to bed.