It’s easy to believe that sleep is important for young children but it is equally important for older children and adults as well. Although the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person, scientists suggest that adults ages 18 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. The quality of sleep we get is also important. Here are five reasons you may be having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
1. Room Temperature
Another important factor in quality rest is maintaining a comfortable room temperature. Some experts suggest that this is the most important factor. The ideal sleeping temperature is generally suggested to be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. However, because everybody is different, you should try to find the temperature that works best for you. In general, we tend to sleep better in a cool room because our body naturally responds to cool temperatures by getting sleepy. Maintaining a cool room will help your body cultivate a good sleep cycle which will leave you feeling more rested in the morning.
2. Diet and Exercise
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” Eating certain foods before bed can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Spicy or acidic foods can give you heartburn which can make it hard to fall asleep. Additionally, eating a large meal before going to sleep can leave you feeling overfull or with a stomach ache. Lastly, consuming too much caffeine can cause you to be unable to fall asleep as it can take your body six hours to clear just half of the caffeine. Diet and exercise go hand in hand which is why it is important for you to make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day as well. Exercising in the morning is preferable because exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect—keeping you awake.
3. Using Electronics
Perhaps one of the newer discoveries when it comes to poor sleep is the effect that using electronics before bed has on our sleep. The stimulation and artificial light involved with using cell phones or laptops in bed can keep you from falling asleep. Other contributors to artificial light are bedside lamps, televisions, light from outside your window such as a street light, and for some people, even the light from an alarm clock. Artificial light signals your brain that it is time to wake up and that prevents the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. Experts recommend turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. If light from an outside source is affecting your sleep, you should consider purchasing blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
4. Bed Sharing
Although there are certainly benefits of sharing a bed with your spouse, children, and pets, they can also be factors that are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Snoring, hoarding covers, and intruding on your personal space all lead to you waking up in the middle of the night. If your partner snores, encourage them to sleep on their side or invest in a white noise machine to drown out the sound. If you’re ready for your kids to sleep in their own bed, there are tips to make the transition easier. If you need to get your pets out of your bed, try purchasing them a pet bed to go beside your bed or shut your door at night to keep them out. Some couples even sleep in separate beds or rooms to ensure good quality sleep.
5. Medical Problems
Whether it is anxiety keeping you up at night or sleep apnea waking you up, there are some solutions to medical problems that affect your sleep. With sleep apnea you have disruptions in your breathing which causes your brain to wake you up. If you believe you may have sleep apnea, you should speak with your doctor as it can be quite serious and you may need to use a device to help you breathe regularly at night. If your anxiety is keeping you awake at night, try reading a book until you’re relaxed enough to fall asleep or asking your doctor for advice.
Getting the good sleep that you need is important. It can make the difference between a do-nothing day and a great, productive day.