It’s common in this day and age to experience disturbed sleep. Some people suffer from sleeping disorders like insomnia, while others experience periods of time where they feel restless night after night. There are many reasons why you might be struggling to get a good night’s rest, but most of them can be solved through simply changing your sleeping habits.
In this article, we will be giving you five ways to change your habits so that you can get a better sleep every single night. All of these are simple, easy things to change to improve your lifestyle significantly. But first, let’s take a look at why you might be struggling to sleep.
Why Can’t I Sleep at Night?
There are many reasons why you might be missing out on sleep at night, and many of them are related to everyday stresses and bad habits we get into as a result of the society we live in. Our body regulates our sleep-wake schedule based on light and melatonin levels. The levels of this hormone are actually controlled by light levels, meaning that when it goes dark we get tired because our bodies know that it is time to sleep.
Nowadays, a lot of people expose themselves to light long after it has gone dark outside. Electric lights on in the house contribute to a lack of sleepiness, but so many of us are guilty of sitting on our phones or laptops even after we get into bed. Blue light from digital screens is a huge culprit in not getting sleep, because it decreases our melatonin production and makes us feel less tired. Small lights in the room – such as from a digital alarm clock – may also stop you sleeping.
Stress is another huge factor that is stopping people sleeping. We often feel overwhelmed with workload from work and school, as well as burdened by other things in our home lives or social relationships. This negative baggage can make us feel too stressed and anxious to sleep. Even things such as a messy bedroom can contribute to this.
Then there’s our lifestyle choices. Consuming too much sugar, caffeine or alcohol can all make us less tired. Not getting enough exercise is also likely to factor into our sleepless nights. Some people simply throw off their internal body clock by taking lie-ins, which is why it’s important to try and stick to a sleep schedule.
Finally, it may be that your bed is uncomfortable. It is recommended to change your mattress roughly every seven years, but you need to change your bed covers and pillows much more often than this in order to get a good quality rest.
As you can see, there are so many reasons why you might be finding it hard to sleep. But what can you actually do about it?
1. Reduce Exposure to Blue Light at Night
As we have already mentioned briefly, exposure to blue light can decrease melatonin production and make us feel less sleepy. As a result, it’s a good idea to avoid going on your phone or laptop while in bed. After you switch out the bedroom light, settle down and go to sleep straight away.
If you want to relax in bed before going to sleep, try reading a book or doing another activity that doesn’t involve a digital screen. This is a quick, simple way to improve your sleep hygiene and ensure you get better rest.
If you are someone who struggles to stay off your phone, there are a few things you can try:
- Turn it onto airplane mode or a ‘do not disturb’ setting so that you aren’t distracted by incoming messages.
- Download an app that locks your phone for a certain amount of time. Switch it on when you want to start settling down.
- Leave your phone downstairs or in another room so you aren’t tempted to check the screen every five minutes.
2. Stop Consuming Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning that it gives us an energy boost. There’s a reason people usually drink coffee in the morning – it gets us ready for the day. If you have been struggling to sleep at night, ask yourself how much caffeine you are consuming. Coffee and energy drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine and will make you feel very wakeful, preventing you from resting.
If you simply can’t function without caffeine in the morning, then that’s still manageable. Just make sure to avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before going to bed.
Even tea contains caffeine, though it is in much smaller quantities. Still, if you are struggling to sleep then it’s a good idea to avoid tea as well. Some varieties of tea, such as rooibos, don’t contain any caffeine, so you could switch over to this if you would still enjoy to settle down with a hot drink in the evenings. Lavender and herbal alternatives are also an option.
Alcohol is another thing that should be avoided. Although alcohol relaxes you and make you feel sleepy, it can reduce the quality of sleep that you experience. It increases risk of snoring, sleep apnoea, and dehydration, which all disrupt sleep. Furthermore, it can make your sleep shallower, so you feel less rested when you wake up.
3. Get Enough Exercise – But Not Before Bed
Many jobs nowadays are sedentary, meaning that we spend a lot of our days sitting down in the office. We don’t expend as much energy as we used to, and therefore we have a lot of leftover energy at the end of the evening, leading to a restless night. It’s important to ensure you get enough exercise into your day.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hit the gym every day. If you do have a job that involves sitting down a lot, do things like parking further away from the door to the building, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and taking your dog on more frequent and longer walks. These should all help you expend a decent amount of energy.
That being said, some of us do enjoy working out, whether that be in the gym or through an activity like dancing or playing sports. This is perfect for making yourself feel more tired at the end of the day, but it’s important to avoid exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime. Exercising releases endorphins that make us feel invigorated and wakeful, meaning that it can wake us up even more at first. Exercise in the morning or during the day to avoid it from preventing sleep.
4. Prepare a Good Sleeping Environment
Improving your sleep hygiene can be pretty simple. Make sure that your bedroom is tidy, your bed is comfortable, and your room is dark and quiet enough. A cluttered room is a cluttered mind, so giving it a quick tidy is a simple way to destress yourself and improve the likelihood of getting a quality rest.
As for your bed, make sure you change your mattress and pillows as required. If you have some sort of physical injury or a more severe sleep problem, then it may be worth spending more on memory foam pillows and mattresses that provide lumbar support, etc. These items may be more expensive than simple pillows, but it’s a price worth paying for a good sleep night after night.
As for your room, make sure it is a good temperature – not too hot or too cold. It should also be dark, ensuring that your melatonin levels are not disrupted. And finally, make sure it is as quiet as possible so that your brain can relax. If you live on a busy street or have loud roommates, it may be worth buying a quality pair of earplugs.
5. Give CBD a Shot
If you have tried everything and failed, then it might be time for a CBD supplement. Some people find that the above techniques work, but that they struggle to keep up the habit after some time – it’s surprising how often your room gets untidy by accident! CBD oil could be an even more simple – but just as effective – way to get a good rest.
CBD comes from the cannabis plant, and it may have some beneficial effects for our health. It works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a physiological system responsible for regulating a variety of functions – including sleep. By taking CBD, you can regulate your sleep-wake cycles and ensure that you feel tired at the appropriate time.
Not convinced? Here’s some scientific evidence. A study published in Psychopharmacology in 2011 found that CBD regulated sleep-wake cycles in rats and produced different effects depending on the time of day. During the daytime (when it was light), CBD made the rats more alert and wakeful; at night time, CBD made them sleepier.
In other words, if you are really struggling to sleep at night, you can take some CBD oil shortly before bed and it might help you to feel more tired. CBD oil is very easy to make a routine out of – it only takes two minutes to administer. If you’re looking for something even more convenient, try CBD capsules. Bear in mind that they take longer to take effect, though, so try taking a capsule an hour or so before bed.
The Bottom Line on Keying in a Great Night’s Sleep
Sleep disorders and restless nights affect many of us, but do not feel as though there is no way out. If you think you might have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnoea, visit a doctor who may be able to help you. Some of the medications available for these ailments are not suited to every patient, however, so it’s a good idea to try and take charge of things yourself as well.
By taking these steps to improve your habits, you might find that you’re sleeping better within a week. You can even try CBD if you feel that other medications aren’t for you. If you have already tried it out for trouble sleeping, let us know how it worked in the comments below!