When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and energized, or grumpy and exhausted? For many of us, feeling the effects of poor rest is common, especially as we get older and find falling asleep becoming more difficult. A lot of adults struggle with maintaining healthy sleep habits and taking the necessary steps to getting a better sleep, so you’re not alone in this.
Our bodies require sleep in order to recharge and recover from the day we faced, and prepare for what tomorrow will bring. By not getting adequate rest, you suffer mentally and physically. A good sleep regulates your mood and maintains your health, so without it, you may begin to feel irritable, sick, drained, and unhappy.
This rest is vital to your well-being, which is why you must learn to identify things in your life that could be preventing you from feeling well rested. According to the Sleep Foundation, a good quality sleep is when you can fall asleep easily, sleep through the night without any interruptions, and wake up feeling energized in the morning. If you feel like your slumber can’t be considered a “good quality sleep,” then it’s time to make some changes.
Several things can influence your sleep, like your lifestyle habits, food choices, and stress. It can be hard to pinpoint what exactly is causing your lack of nighttime rest, but we’re here to help! Here are 5 of the most common things that could be preventing you from getting a better sleep.
1. Blue light exposure
Have you ever watched TV or scrolled on your phone right before falling asleep? This could be the reason you feel so tired in the mornings.
Anything with a screen emits blue light, which suppresses your body’s release of melatonin, interfering with your natural sleep cycle. When you expose yourself to blue light too frequently, you’re tricking your body into staying alert, rather than winding down. This results in a sleep that’s not truly restful.
Blue light can come from your phone, laptop, tablet, TV, or even LED lights. Because we know that blue light negatively impacts your quality of sleep, it’s important to find ways to decrease our blue light exposure.
For a better sleep, try establishing a habit to cut out screen use 2-3 hours before bed, and instead use the time to read a book or write in a journal. If 2-3 hours feels like too much, start with a minimum of 30 minutes. You can also change the settings on your devices to night mode to help limit the amount of blue light your screens omit throughout the day.
To find out more about the effects of blue light, read this article.
2. Inconsistent sleep schedule
An inconsistent sleep schedule involves going to bed at different times every day, sleeping different amounts, and waking up at different times. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours, so you should adjust your current sleep schedule to ensure you get that each night. With not enough rest, your body spends the following day trying to recover from the exhaustion it feels. This can affect our performance, mood, general health, and relationships.
There are things you can do to fix an inconsistent sleep schedule. Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind yourself when to go to bed and when to wake up. You should aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same times each day to avoid any inconsistencies, and to make it easier to get a good quality rest. You can also ensure the temperature in your bedroom is set low enough to keep you from getting too hot, and that all doors are closed to avoid excess noise.
3. Too much stress
It’s normal to feel stressed occasionally, especially in your adulthood. However, chronic feelings of stress trigger your fight-or-flight hormones, keeping you in a state of alertness for long periods of time.
Reducing stress from all aspects of your life can take time and patience, but there are things you can still do to feel more relaxed at bedtime. Consider practicing breathing exercises before getting into bed, like mindful meditation. Doing this 10-30 minutes before going to bed can be an effective method of reducing stress and improving your sleep.
For more information about how stress could be preventing you from having a better sleep, check out this article.
4. Poor eating habits
If you’re struggling with having a good night’s sleep, you may be shocked to know that your food choices could be what’s stopping you from feeling well rested. High carbohydrate and sugary foods can reduce the amount of deep sleep we get, and actually cause us to wake up more frequently during the night.
To get a better sleep, it’s essential to make better choices when it comes to eating healthier. According to this article, a balanced diet is typically made up of a variety of vegetables and fruits to provide you with the necessary vitamins and nutrients needed for a restful sleep.
5. Caffeine intake
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, that afternoon coffee you had might be the reason why. It’s common knowledge that caffeine intake in the afternoon or evening can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep, but many people don’t realize caffeine stays in your system anywhere from 3-7 hours after consuming it.
For hopes of a better sleep, you should avoid caffeine before bedtime, and be cautious of how long it may stay in your system. If you need to have caffeine, we recommend having it early in the morning. After lunch, try to indulge in more caffeine-free foods and beverages to avoid any interferences for when you go to bed. Still want an afternoon cup of coffee? Consider switching to decaf.
To further understand how caffeine affects our ability to have a good sleep, read this article.
Prioritize getting a better sleep
Sleep is an important part of your self-care. Without it, your body can’t properly recharge, and your brain can’t function as it should. When you don’t get enough rest, you’re at greater risk for diseases, affect your relationships, limit your performance, and worsen your mood.
If you wake up after a full night of sleep still feeling exhausted, you may not be getting as good of a sleep as you thought. There are many things that may be preventing you from feeling mentally and physically refreshed when you awake, like the food you eat and the stress you’re struggling with. You should assess your lifestyle, identify what could be causing your lack of nighttime rest, and make the necessary changes to get your sleep problems resolved.
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