5 Barriers to Good Sleep

We have all had days where we feel like we are dragging our feet from the moment the alarm goes off. A good night’s sleep can have drastic effects on the following day. Unfortunately, poor quality of sleep or not enough sleep wreaks havoc on many. Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm, influenced by the light-and-dark cycle. The internal clock of our body that helps with sleep is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus inside the hypothalamus in the brain. Understanding what is preventing you from sleeping well can help you fix the problem. If you pay close attention to your habits and your body, you can address sleep issues to help you wake up feeling refreshed.

1. Lights

Too much light can make falling asleep hard. Blue light and other lights can have a negative effect on our sleep. Improved sleep quality is a possible benefit of using red light therapy. This simple treatment delivers red light and near-infrared light to your body. Bright blue lights have been shown to possibly make it harder to sleep, among other negative issues, so red light therapy is an excellent alternative for our bodies to offset the blue light we encounter daily.

  1. Distractions
    A common deterrent to sleep is screen time. Our phones, televisions and tablets provide us with access to anything and everything. As great as this is, it also leads to distractions. We end up scrolling through social media for far longer than intended, accidentally binge half of a new series or find ourselves down a rabbit hole of articles that spirals out of control, captivating our attention and decreasing our sleep time. Screen time also keeps you stimulated instead of promoting relaxation prior to bed. Consider eliminating screen time at least one hour before your desired sleep time to help improve your quality of sleep.

    3. Temperature
    Warm bedroom temperatures can cause restlessness and decrease the quality of sleep. Cooler temperatures help with sleep because our core temperature drops slightly during the night as melatonin is released. The ideal temperature range for sleep is 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool bedding, sleeping in light pajamas and keeping a ceiling fan on are ways to help stay cool during the night. Other tips include keeping window blinds or curtains closed during the day and opening windows at night for ventilation.

  2. Stress

Stress, anxiety and depression can all make it challenging to fall asleep at night or to rest easily and well throughout the night. When you feel yourself worrying or stressing, your sleep suffers. To combat these feelings, try meditation and breathing exercises as part of your bedtime routine. Meditation can ground you mentally and emotionally while allowing your body to relax. Breathing exercises are great for calming down, too. If you find yourself stressing about upcoming things to do, try creating a to-do list, breaking down the items into smaller, more manageable tasks, or completing one task prior to starting your bedtime routine to feel a sense of accomplishment and perhaps rest easier.

  1. Habits

Bad habits, such as smoking, can ruin our sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant that can wreck sleep. Drinking several alcoholic drinks before bed is another bad habit that could interfere with the quality of your sleep. While you may think it will help with sleep or make you fall asleep faster, your quality of sleep will be decreased. Another bad habit is increased caffeine consumption in the afternoons and evenings. It is also good practice to limit or cut caffeine after noon.

Quality sleep is vital to our everyday life tasks, performances and overall health. If you are not getting seven to eight hours of sound sleep per night, you should consider evaluating what keeps you up at night. There are a variety of factors you may not realize impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some minor adjustments to your lifestyle choices and bedtime routine could make a significant difference in the quality and quantity of your sleep. Try these changes to see what works best for your body. Sweet dreams!