Most people will encounter sleep issues at some point in their life. Unfortunately, they can be pretty hard to resolve. First, you need to work out what is causing the sleep issue, and then work towards resolving it. In some cases, identifying what is disturbing your sleep can be a challenge in itself! Here are some of the less well known reasons that you could be struggling to sleep.
1. Your Pets
Everybody loves cuddling with their pets, especially when it’s cold outside. Did you know that your pets could be causing your sleep issues, though? According to Mayo Clinic, 53% of people who sleep with their pets report sleep disturbances. Try letting your pet in for cuddles, and then encouraging them into their own bed. Give it a week or two, and see if your sleep improves. You can always let them back for morning cuddles!
2. Your Gadgets
We all know that you should let your brain wind down before you try to sleep, but not many of us know why. Electronics emit a blue light when they are on, which tells your brain to stay awake. Once that blue light turns off, it can take up to two hours for your brain to wind down and be ready to naturally sleep. Bizarrely, this can start to affect you at strange times. Even if you’ve never been affected before, this could be causing your new sleep issues. Try turning off your phone and TV and unwinding with a book or magazine, and see how you do. No screens within 30 minutes of bed is an excellent rule.
3. Spice Spice Baby
The food that you eat can affect your sleep, too. I’m not talking about cheese, which is famed for giving people nightmares, but spicy dishes like curry and chilli. Spicy food can be difficult to digest, which keeps you awake for longer, and high fat foods can have a similar effect. If you need a night-time snack, try something plain, like toast or cereal.
4. Too Much Light
How dark is your room at night? While thin curtains are brilliant for letting light through in the morning and waking you up naturally, sleeping in a light room can be really difficult. The body doesn’t like to sleep through light! Try blocking out the light with black-out blinds or hanging towels over the curtain rail, and seeing if a dark room with no light sends you into a slumber quicker. I bet it will.
Some medications specifically need to be taken at night, but others should be taken in the morning. If it’s not specified, start with a morning dose to lower the risk of your sleep being affected. Medications that contain B6 or B12, for example, will definitely keep you awake for a while. If you’re on prescribed medication and you’re finding it difficult to sleep, speak to your doctor about any alternatives that you could try.
Your hormones can keep you awake. Yep, they suck. Keep a note of when your sleepless nights occur, and see if there is a pattern. On those days, you might benefit from a longer bedtime routine. A hot bath and some Horlicks, for example, could be enough to help you drift off. Make sure you’ve got comfortable pyjamas for these nights, too, and some blankets in case you get too hot.
This is a bit of a shocking one, because most people know alcohol as a sedative. While initially it will help you to drift off to sleep, it’ll actually wake you up a few hours later, when your body starts to break it down and digest it. It’s not unusual to need to get up for the bathroom, either, or to grab a drink to stop you dehydrating. Definitely ditch the booze if you’re struggling with sleep.
Whatever the cause, if you’re struggling to sleep, make sure to trial these tips and see if they help. If not, book an appointment with your doctor. You might be able to try a medication designed to help you drift off, or get referred to a sleep clinic to see what’s going on. Disturbed sleep can be a symptom of conditions such as sleep apnea, so definitely get checked. Got a tip for sleeping better? I’d love to hear it!