Sadly, people are not getting enough sleep. Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., the head of the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, believes that the world has entered a global sleep deprivation epidemic.
Why are we so sleep deprived as a society? Smartphones, tablets, and televisions create shorter wavelength lights that appear to have the ability to reset our biological clock and can even change our time zone. Bedtimes start to change every day, which leads to sleep deprivation.
Czeisler states, “When I was growing up, 2–3% of the population slept less than six hours; now it’s 10 times as many.”
He goes on to say, “We’ve increased by an order of magnitude our per capita light exposure. Take all the people who died on 9/11—twice as many die in motor vehicle crashes every year in the U.S. alone due to sleep deprivation.
“There are about 60,000 debilitating injuries on the highway [caused by under-slept drivers]. And we’re getting more overweight because we’re sleeping less. As sleep has gone down, waistlines have gone up. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain goes into starvation mode.”
8. Does Your Phone Hinder Your Sleep?
Most people sleep with their phone nearby, which might be hindering your body’s sleep-promoting neurons and the body’s natural cycle of melatonin. These things cause you to get sleepy and if you don’t have enough then you might not feel sleepy.
Most experts advise putting your phone in another room if you are having trouble sleeping.
7. Alcohol, Caffeine, and Sleep
Drinking alcohol or caffeine might not only make it more difficult to fall asleep but could impact your overall sleep quality. You’ll often feel anxious and depressed.
6. Exercise and Sleep
People who do not exercise enough might have a hard time sleeping well. Even moderate exercise during the day can promote a more restful night’s slumber.
5. Other Things That Impact Sleep
Studies have shown that people who meditate at least 30 minutes a day five days a week have a hard time falling asleep. Anxiety and depression are other factors that can cause poor slumber.
4. Late Night Eating
Are you eating your dinner too late? When you eat, your body responds with insulin, which can make it hard to fall asleep. Your body’s natural rhythm suffers disruption, and you’ll feel more wakeful.
Kate Watts, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, a dietitian at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management states, “When we eat late at night, the muscles that digest and metabolize our food have to keep working when they should be resting. This can delay your ability to fall asleep and can prevent you from getting the deep, restful stage of sleep you need to feel refreshed the next day.”
3. Heartburn and Poor Sleep
Eating before bed puts you at risk of heartburn. When you lie down following a meal, gravity no longer keeps your stomach foods down and they start to boil up into the esophagus and throat. The irritation makes it hard to sleep comfortably.
2. Snacking at Night
Unlike eating a large meal, snacking might not pose a problem.
One study states, “Indeed, negative outcomes have been demonstrated in response to large mixed meals in populations that consume a majority of their daily food intake during the night.
“However, data is beginning to mount to suggest that negative outcomes may not be consistent when the food choice is small, nutrient-dense, low energy foods and/or single macronutrients rather than large mixed meals.”
Consuming a 150-calorie smoothie that is protein-rich might actually aid in helping you fall asleep. The smoothie can improve your body’s muscle protein synthesis, help you feel satisfied and help with morning metabolism.
Sometimes going to bed on an empty stomach can also cause you to toss and turn, so a smoothie is an ideal solution to curb your hunger and help you sleep.
1. How to Fall Asleep
If you have difficulty falling asleep and cannot pinpoint an exact cause, then try these tricks:
- Create a quiet bedroom environment. You can play calming music if you find that beneficial. However, avoid anything that is loud or unsettling.
- Find something to focus on such as a mantra, breathing pattern, phrase, or mental image. These things can draw your mind’s attention away from worries from the day.
- Develop an accepting attitude by realizing that it’s okay if your mind wanders when you try to fall asleep. Just try to relax and not worry about things.
- Position yourself in a comfortable place on the bed so you feel at ease and can truly relax. Ideally, you should always lie in bed when trying to fall asleep.
- Turn off electronics such as the television for at least an hour before trying to fall asleep. In fact, it is nice to try to live without a television in the bedroom because it could be making it difficult to fall asleep.
Obtaining a good night’s sleep is difficult in today’s fast-paced world. Trying to pinpoint the cause of your insomnia can help significantly.