Do you have difficulty falling asleep – or staying asleep? That’s not surprising. An estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder according to this report.
Eight Possible Culprits Why You’re Not Falling Asleep
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, examine each of these eight culprits. Is there something different you could be doing?
- Too much caffeine. You may have heard of the suggestion to cut off caffeine mid-afternoon to prevent it from interfering with your sleep. But, time is just one factor. If you drink too much caffeine before 4pm, some of that caffeine may still be in your bloodstream when you’re trying to get to sleep. Scientists use the term half-life to measure how long it takes for the body to remove half of a chemical from your body. For caffeine, it’s an average of 4 hours. If you have a large cup of coffee early in the morning, half of the caffeine is removed every FOUR hours….so not much caffeine remains at the end of the day. But every additional cup of caffeine results in even more caffeine in your bloodstream at bedtime. Watch my 50 second video for an explanation of why this happens. http://bit.ly/1ni3iit
- The bedroom isn’t completely dark. When darkness falls, the pineal gland in the brain starts producing the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. But light from outside, from the hall or bathroom to prevent this release. Light can even pass through your closed eyelids. Black out shades or an eye mask may help.
- You keep checking your phone throughout the night. It may seem insignificant to glance at your phone during the evening, but the blue lights from electronic devices will prevent, delay, or diminish our melatonin production.
- You ate too much too close to bedtime. Heavy meals cause stomach distress and pressure, potentially leading to heart burn.
- You don’t have a bedtime routine. Often we shut everything down, turn out the light, and expect to immediately fall asleep. Take a lesson from how we get little kids to sleep. We often have a bedtime routine for them which includes changing into pjs, turning down the lights, reading a book, etc. We need a bedtime routine to wind us down too.
- You napped too late. While a short (10-20 minute) nap can refresh us mid-day, it’s best not to take a longer nap – or a nap too late in the day (after 4pm). Otherwise, it can affect our nighttime sleep.
- You didn’t get enough bright light during the day. Within every cell of the human body is a clock that keeps us close to the 24-hour cycle of the sun. Close, but not exact. On average we’re about 12 minutes off. Here’s how that works. If we’re tired at 11pm on day one, we don’t get tired until 11:12 on day two and 11:24 on day three. By exposing ourselves to 30 minutes of bright light we can reset the body back to a 24-hour day. So take a walk midday or use a bright reading light.
- You share your bed with your pets, kids, or snoring bed partners. We sleep in 90-minute chunks of time called sleep cycles. During each 90-minute sleep cycles our body goes from light sleep to deep sleep, and back to light sleep. Deep sleep helps our body recover and repair – important to recover from illness and keep us healthy. Any interruption, even if it doesn’t fully awaken us, will knock us out of this deep sleep and make us repeat the cycle all over again.