Make the Most of Your Rest
10 Things the Ruin Sleep and Tips to Overcome
Sleep is essential to restore your body and mind. It’s a vital pillar of health and one to be prioritized. Quality sleep improves memory and concentration, physical performance, maintains the immune system, and strengthens the heart. Poor sleep is linked to high body weight, higher risk of high blood pressure and stroke, metabolism problems and mental health issues. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly, and the body’s defenses are compromised.
Since many of us have inconsistent bedtime schedules, we must develop and maintain good sleep habits to care for our well-being. See below for our list of 10 things that ruin sleep and what you can do to overcome these common pitfalls.
Challenge #1 Shift Work
Shift work can cause major disruptions to your sleep schedule putting it directly at odds with the local daylight hours. Combining shift work with some of the unhealthy habits below can further increase your risk of sleep problems and disorders.
Even if your bedtime is inconsistent, you can still focus on planning sleep routines based on your shifts, making your bedroom environment comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, eliminating screen time and building healthy habits during the day that contribute to ideal sleep.
Challenge #2 Not Unwinding
Not unwinding. Jumping into bed can be an abrupt change for your mind and body if there is no transition. Staying active until the moment before bed and expecting our body and mind to instantly shut off without transition is difficult. Our bodies don’t do well with abrupt changes.
Give your mind and body time to prepare for rest. Develop a quiet sleep routine that starts 30 – 60 minutes before bed. Writing out the tasks or thoughts in your head onto paper can help clear your mind. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to calm music and meditating can signal to your body that it’s time for rest.
Challenge #3 Diet
Your diet. If you eat a large meal right before bed, your body will be occupied with digesting your food instead of restoring itself.
Limit large meals to at least two hours before bed.
Challenge #4 Environment
Your environment. Harsh, bright light before bed, too much noise, excessive blue light, an uncomfortable temperature and a poor mattress are elements that can hinder your sleep quality.
In the evenings or before you go to bed, adjust the atmosphere to promote sleep. Use lower lights, set the thermostat to 65 degrees, try aromatherapy and limit noise. When you sleep, try a soothing white noise machine, and make sure you’ve blocked out all light.
Challenge #5 Long Naps
Long naps. If you take long naps and sleep well at night, it may not be a problem. But naps diminish your ability to sleep at night as they reset your sleep rhythm to a different cycle.
Keep naps early in the afternoon. The ideal nap length is either a short power nap (20-minutes) or up to 90 minutes.
Challenge# 6 BEDRoom
Your bedroom is a multi-purpose room. Your bedroom should be a room your mind associates with sleep and relaxation. If you fill your room with technology, gaming or work, you are creating space for stimulation at the expense of your rest.
Solution # 6
Clear out technology from your sleep sanctuary. It helps to have a healthy mental connection between being in your bed in your bedroom and actually being asleep.
Challenge # 7 Caffeine or Alcohol
Alcohol or Coffee before bed. Caffeine can keep you awake, hindering your ability to fall asleep. Alcohol may seem to make you drowsy, but it disrupts the stages of sleep and impacts the quality.
Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bed and allow three hours after your last drink. A tall glass of water can help flush alcohol out of your system before bed.
Challenge #8 Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of interrupted sleep. It affects about 12% of Americans, but 80% of those suffering go undiagnosed.
If you have any of the following symptoms, see a sleep specialist to be evaluated:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
Challenge #9 Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression. Mental health is closely linked to sleep. Anxiety or depression wreak havoc to your sleep pattern.
Seek out help. A game plan to treat your anxiety or depression can help you get better sleep.
Challenge # 10 Blue Light
Blue Light. Harvard researchers discovered that blue light can damage vision and it suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep cycle. Being on your phone or iPad stimulates your brain making it tougher to get to sleep.
Solution # 10
Try wearing blue-light-blocking glasses in the evening and put the screen down 30 – 60 minutes before bed.