Can’t sleep? You’re in good company. Sleep deprivation is shockingly common, with millions lying awake at night or struggling to get quality rest. But it also has shocking results.
Sleep deprivation is ruining your life, quite literally. A bad night’s sleep not only makes the next day a right-off, but it can also have major implications for your long-term health. Insomnia can leave you at increased risk for a range of issues including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and alcohol abuse. In fact, persistent insomnia increases the risk of early mortality. Sleep, it turns out, is serious stuff.
Sleepless nights can also cause weight gain. This is because being short on sleep can affect hormone levels and metabolism. You might also find yourself reaching for sugary or calorie-dense foods to boost your energy after a challenging night.
Not getting enough pillow time can affect your career, too. Getting too little sleep can bring down your sense of optimism and self-esteem, which in turn can affect how you see yourself and your abilities. Lack of sleep also makes you frazzled and unproductive. One study shows that workers can with insomnia can lose around 8 days worth of productivity per year, even though they’re at their desks.
Not only that, but insomnia can cause your body and mind to be more stressed, with your cortisol levels spiking. High levels of stress can affect every area of your life, from work to relationships with others, and can actually make insomnia worse.
Sleep deprivation is ruining you. So, what can you do to fight back?
Get to the root of the problem
Is it allergies? Stress at work? An underlying medical condition? Identifying the problem will help you to figure out the solution, as it might not be as simple as just getting an early night. It might be that you need a professional to identify and deal with any underlying medical conditions. But if you know you’re not getting enough Zs because of poor sleep habits or a whirling mind, there are plenty of things you can do to get more quality pillow time.
Make your bedroom irresistible
Hands up who’s guilty of working or studying in the bedroom? It’s easy to think that working in the bedroom is no big deal, but don’t be tempted to take the laptop onto the bed with you. Your bedroom should be a safe and tranquil space where you can relax. Working in there can make your brain associate this area of the house with stress or intellectual stimulation. You want your brain to get the ‘switch off’ signal when it’s time to lie down, so try to separate work and your bedroom if possible.
So how can you make your bedroom a haven of relaxation? Decorate it beautifully and make sure your furniture is comfortable and cozy. It should feel like a luxurious and peaceful environment that you can’t wait to be in at the end of a long day. Choosing tranquil colors can give a psychological cue that this is a chill-out zone. Plus, turning down the lights can tell your brain to start producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Perhaps it’s time to invest in some blackout blinds and soft lighting for your boudoir. Whatever you do, it’s best to keep screens out of the bedroom.
Try relaxation techniques
If you’re struggling with sleep, you’ve probably already heard of mindfulness. But don’t be tempted to overlook it. Studies have shown that mindfulness fights insomnia and improves quality of sleep. There are lots of mindfulness apps out there which can make the experience easy and enjoyable. Just remember to turn on the blue-light filter on your phone to avoid stimulation.
ASMR videos have surged in popularity over recent years, with many people using them to fall asleep. These videos might seem strange to some, but others notice that they feel less anxious and can drift off more easily.
More traditional, technology-free relaxation strategies work wonders, too. Taking a hot bath, drinking camomile tea, and placing lavender on the pillow can be incredibly soothing before bedtime. Gentle stretching and yoga can also help you to unwind, and so can reading a good book.
Avoid overstimulation before bed
It’s not just that we need to apply more relaxation strategies before bed, but we also need to reduce stimulation. If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure you don’t drink any caffeine at least seven hours before bed. Some people might find that exercising late at night means they have suddenly more endorphins and energy, making it hard to wind down. In these cases, switch to morning workouts and see if it makes a difference.
Reading work emails or having challenging conversations late at night might also leave your brain whirring. It’s best to make sure the hour or so before bed is spent just winding down. Likewise, you may want to reconsider watching true crime documentaries, horror movies, or even the news late at night if you feel it might kick your brain into overdrive.
Boost the quality of the sleep you do get
It’s not just coffee that we need to be wary of. Did you know that up to 20% of Americans use alcohol to help them fall asleep? This might seem helpful because it can help you to drift off quicker. But actually, alcohol can disrupt your circadian rhythm and block REM sleep, wreaking havoc on the quality of your slumber, so it’s best to avoid it before bed.
Making sure you have the right bed set-up is crucial for good quality sleep. Allergies can make it hard to sleep and leave you waking up feeling groggy. Depending on what your allergies are, hypoallergenic bedding might help.
Stylish, heavy duty beds that are built to last are a worthwhile investment if you want to sleep through the night. It’s also worth getting a supportive mattress and high-quality pillows to encourage good posture and restful sleep. Mattresses should be firm and pillows shouldn’t be too high or low, as this can restrict breathing.
The way you sleep can also have an impact on the quality of your rest. We can get into the habit of sleeping in less than ideal positions. But poor sleeping posture can actually lead to sleep apnea, back pains, and headaches. It’s worth researching correct sleeping posture and finding a way that works for you.
Seek out professional help
Remember, you’re not alone in your quest for a good night’s sleep. Trying to adjust your routine will take time and patience, as it can take a while to find the tricks that work for you.
If it’s more than a few troubled nights and you think you might have insomnia, it’s worth getting medical help. Insomnia is a condition that can seriously impact your life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Some people find that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication helps, just be sure to get some expert advice.
There are so many reasons why we don’t sleep and so many remedies to test out. Hopefully, by trying a few of these tips you can get a full night’s sleep and wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day. You won’t only feel immediately better, but you’ll also be making a huge investment in your future health and happiness. Here’s to counting those sheep!