These are the top 5 reasons I've observed why people struggle with getting the sleep they need. This can be from taking a while to get to sleep, or not sleeping enough.
1. Not having a consistent Wake up and Bed time. YES I know it sounds WAY more fun to stay up an extra 3 hrs to play World of Warcraft with your friends on a Fri night and then sleep in on Sat, TRUST ME, I miss that. BUT we as humans are creatures of habit, especially with sleep. When you change your bedtime and your wake up time, you upset your Circadian Rhythm, or your Sleep/wake rhythm and thus your body has trouble figuring out when it should be ready to go to bed and then you have a more restless night of sleep. Figure out when you need to wake up, then find 8-9 hrs prior to that time and make sure you go to bed at that time EVERY day.
2. Too much caffeine late in the day. SO because your body isn’t as rested because you upset your Circadian Rhythm, NOW you try to alleviate that with afternoon coffee or energy drinks. When you have too much caffeine late, it upsets your body’s ability to wind down and then you further the cycle of messing up your circadian rhythm. It’s best to limit caffeine as much as possible and have it before noon. For me, I have 1 bag of green tea every morning, maybe 2 if I’m riding the struggle bus but I never have any past Noon. Going back to reason 1, once you commit to a lifestyle of having good sleep, you really don’t need that much caffeine. AVOID caffeine past Noon. Yes, your afternoon will suck for a time or two but you will sleep better and then you won’t NEED that caffeine anymore!
3. Drinking alcohol late in the day. Alcohol will also disrupt our friend, the circadian rhythm. Without getting too sciency, it messes up the natural chemicals in your body that help you maintain a good night of sleep. Yes, you fall asleep faster, but you are also more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. It also contributes to breathing problems, more bathroom trips and worse REM sleep. I experience this EVERY TIME I drink, especially later in the day.
This is one of the main reasons I don’t like to drink much. NO matter WHAT TIME I go to bed, if I drink alcohol, late in the day, I wake up 5 HOURS LATER and oftentimes do not fall back asleep. I absolutely HATE that feeling of waking up at 2am on a Sat, laying in bed mad that I am awake. THEN going into my Saturday feeling like crap and making me not want to do much on Saturday.
Drinking, especially as you get older really sets you back a day or two of being a well rested, productive human. For special occasions, I’ll still do it but I usually have to weigh out whether it is worth feeling like garbage the rest of the weekend for a few hours of fun--some times it is! I encourage you to challenge whether having those drinks is worth disrupting your next day or two. If you are going to drink with friends, I encourage you to start early, balance each drink with water.
4. Limit screen usage before bed. Household light from lamps and blue light emitted from laptops/tablets/smartphones trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime and that you need to be awake. NOT to mention, scrolling on social media RIGHT before bed starts bringing thoughts into your brain that keep you from winding down mentally while you’re trying to fall asleep. It’s best to start dimming lights about 2 hours before bed time and avoid looking at your phone once you get into bed--ALSO, turn it on Do not disturb and better yet, put your phone in another room!
5. LAST and certain not least is STRESS!! Stress or having lots of thoughts/worries in our head keeps our mind trying to think and keeps YOU from truly winding down. Our society provides a LOT for us to be stressed about and often doesn’t offer a lot of good ways to deal with them other than medication that offers harmful side effects. 2 things I recommend are:
Journaling before bed: Journaling is NOT just for cat ladies guys and gals, journal every thought and associated emotion in your head BEFORE bed. Write out your "TO DO" lists for tomorrow. Putting these physically on paper helps you release them from your brain and allows your mind to focus on winding down
Meditation: Similar to journaling, regular meditation helps us see and process our thoughts and emotions from our busy lives. If we don’t consciously STOP to process all the things that are happening around us during the day, they stick with us until we finally DO stop--AND when do we STOP in our day, RIGHT BEFORE BED. THIS is why we can get busy minds right before sleeping that keep up from falling asleep right away. I recommend doing both journaling and meditation day to day for sleeping better, reducing anxiety and increasing happiness!
Those are my top 5 reasons why YOU aren’t sleeping well. I KNOW THESE are hard habits to install so just start with 1 of these for 21 days and see if you can get it to stick.
These habits can be a challenge ALSO due to social pressure. I put these into my life over the last few years but often would get ridiculed from friends for having “old man habits.” Yeah, it can be tough to get teased at times from friends, or insecure friends that are projecting their frustrations on you...
Ultimately this is your life, your body and NO ONE else is going to take responsibility for your habits but YOU. Remember, those people that tease you really just wish they were as disciplined as you to prioritize your health and sleep. So be a leader, be healthy and be much happier!
Comment below with which habit YOU are going to start with? Do you have any of these habits already installed in your lifestyle? Telling a friend helps with meeting goals so commenting below is helpful for you to be successful!
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Stay awesome and I love you!