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November 14, 2017

Five things preventing you from getting a good night's sleep

Wellness Sleep

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Person lying wide awake in bed Annie Spratt/

Few things are better than waking up feeling fully rested after a good night’s sleep, right? Unfortunately, many factors in our lives can disrupt our natural sleep/wake schedule, leaving us feeling drowsy and unrested the following day.

Developing healthy sleep habits is vital to your well-being. Here are five things that may be preventing you from getting the quality sleep you need and deserve.

1. The wrong sleeping environment

Believe it or not, your bedroom plays a big role in the amount and quality of sleep that you get. Associating your room with anything other than sleep can hinder your ability to fall asleep.

The best way to prime yourself for a restful night is to create an ideal environment: one that's clean, dark, quiet, and cool. This creates comfort and helps to coax your body into sleep. In addition, make sure that your bed is comfortable, and do not sit or lounge there unless you’re about to go to sleep.

2. Consuming too much caffeine

Caffeine counters the effects of adenosine, which brings on sleepiness. With a half-life of 3-5 hours, caffeine too close to bed delays the timing of your body clock and can disrupt your ability to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep.

Aside from knowing the amount of caffeine that works best for you, a smart way to combat the effects of caffeine on sleep is to watch your timing — for instance, if you want to be asleep by 10 p.m., it's probably best to pass on that cup of coffee after noon.

3. Staring at a screen before bed

We’re all guilty of scrolling through our news feed lying in bed with the lights off. Here’s the problem: the blue and white light that’s emitted from screens on phones and laptops can seriously disrupt your sleep cycle. In fact, this light blocks the production of melatonin, a hormone that alerts our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep.

The best way to avoid the damaging effects of this artificial light is to limit screen time (preferably to none at all) right before bed, or at least to dim the screen. Instead of using your phone or watching TV, try reading a non-digital book or magazine.

4. Feeling anxious or stressed

With the many stressors in today’s society, about 7 out of 10 adults report that stress and anxiety interferes with their lives. When you fall asleep, your body goes through an adjustment in the nervous system, from the active sympathetic system to calmer parasympathetic functioning. When you’re stressed, however, this change gets disrupted and the active nervous system doesn’t shut down.

In this case, your brain remains hyperactive, and anxiety about not being able to fall asleep makes matters worse. The best course of action is to determine the causes of stress and anxiety in your life, and take measures to address them. To make falling asleep easier in the meantime, try practicing relaxation or acupressure techniques to reduce stress.

5. Eating a big meal too late

While late-night snacking can be tempting, consuming food right before bed can be problematic. Eating not only “fires up” your metabolism, but lying down after eating allows acid to flow back up through the esophagus. This unpleasant burning sensation can make it difficult to fall asleep, especially when you just want to feel comfortable. It’s a wise move to not eat at least two to three hours before bedtime to avoid this issue.

Your sleeping pattern plays a major role in your overall health and well-being. Following these good sleep hygiene tips will help you finally get the rest you deserve.

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