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According to the CDC, about 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. Millions more around the globe struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep for various reasons. Even though we’re told to get 7-8 hours each night, that’s easier said than done for so many people.
Not getting enough sleep is frustrating, but it can also be dangerous. A lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and may even shorten your life expectancy.
Often, the key to solving your sleep issues is figuring out what’s causing them to begin with. When you get to the root of the problem, you can start to take active steps toward fixing it.
With that in mind, let’s look at five things that could be affecting the quality of your sleep and what you can do about each one.
1. Hormone Issues
Hormones and sleep go hand-in-hand. Certain hormones function properly based on your sleep cycles and circadian rhythm. When you’re not getting enough sleep, those hormones can stop functioning the way they should. Unfortunately, that starts a vicious cycle that makes it even more difficult to get a restful night.
Everything from cortisol to growth hormones can be impacted by sleep, so if you’re not getting enough, it could start to impact your health.
Consider establishing a “wind-down” routine before bed each night to get your mind and body in the right state of mind. Additionally, try to develop a sleep routine that allows you to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. That can help your circadian rhythm to get back on track.
2. Certain Medications
If you have an underlying medical condition, you might need medication to manage your symptoms.
Unfortunately, certain medications have been known to interrupt sleep, including
- Blood pressure medications
If you’re on any type of medication for another condition and you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may be able to take something else, or they may prescribe an additional drug to offset the poor sleep side effects.
3. Too Many Stimuli
If you’re guilty of watching TV or scrolling through your phone before bed, you’re definitely not alone. However, it could also be making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Many of today’s electronic devices emit something called “blue light.” This type of light stimulates the brain and suppresses melatonin. Looking at your phone, in particular, can cause your mind to stay active and engaged for hours.
A good rule of thumb is to step away from all electronics at least an hour before bed. This simple change in habit can make a big difference in how quickly you fall asleep.
4. The State of the World
There’s no denying that we’re living in uncertain times. We’re stepping into a post-pandemic society, but there’s still plenty of social unrest, economic issues, and even terrifying violence going on throughout the world.
It’s enough to stress anyone out.
You might even still be struggling with “COVID dreams,” or having a hard time forgetting how the pandemic impacted you.
While you can’t change the state of the world, finding ways to reduce your stress levels is one of the best ways to combat your anxieties about it. Not sure which activities can help you manage your stress? Consider some of the following:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Socializing with a friend
- Eating a healthy diet
- Journaling/starting a diary
People combat stress in different ways, so don’t be afraid to try a variety of things to find what works for you.
5. An Uncomfortable Bedroom
Do you know people who can seem to sleep anywhere? Whether it’s a sleeping bag in a tent or a lounge chair in the living room, they never seem to have a problem getting enough rest.
If you’re not fortunate enough to have that power, you might want to take a look at your current sleep environment.
An uncomfortable bedroom can discourage a good night’s rest. Things like clutter or having your room setup for multiple purposes can all be distracting.
Having a clean bedroom, on the other hand, can reduce your stress levels, boost your mental health, and let both your mind and body know that the bedroom is made for sleeping, allowing you to drift off faster.
If any of these issues sound familiar, it could be time to make some changes for the sake of your sleep health. If you’re still not getting the rest you need, reach out to your doctor to rule out any potential medical conditions.
Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time you can find her in the mountains with her two dogs. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @indianalee3