Sleep health is a fairly new concept that educates people about why sleep is important. In many scenarios, insufficient or poor quality sleep can be the culprit to negative habits and ailments such as: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality. So, how can we escape chronic sleep deprivation? The following is a list of 8 things that are negatively impacting your sleep and why you should avoid them.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, light impacts our sleep two ways: physically obstructing our sleep, and influencing the timing of our internal clock. Light sensitive cells in the retina of our eyes inform the brain about the time of day. These cells to keep us in a 24-hour pattern detect sunlight. Exposure to light can cause our internal clock to change, influencing our sleep and wake cycle.
To avoid being obstructed by light during sleep move your bed away from a physical light source, sleep with an eye pillow, or invest in black out curtains. This will help your internal clock rest and avoid unpredictable sleeping patterns.
Studies show that people who receive poor quality sleep typically eat processed foods and fewer vegetables. There is also a correlation between sleep deprivation and the rising rate of obesity. For this reason, eating and sleeping well are two important factors when maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Large meals, especially those that are heavy or include sugar and caffeine, are not recommended to eat before bed. Food equates to energy. If you are eating a high protein or carbohydrate meal before bed, odds are you will have a hard time falling asleep. If you plan on eating, strive to eat something light (if at all).
As you fall asleep, your body’s sugar level increases slightly. Soon as you fall into a deeper slumber, your body goes into a “fasting” rest mode. If you eat sugar prior to bedtime, your blood sugar is not able to decrease into the fasting mode. Instead, this can cause blood sugar spikes, which may lead to adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal exhaustion is like a yoyo-effect in the body that causes your adrenal glands to work improperly. In other words, when your body should be resting, it is working overtime.
Noise affects sleep at different stages. Even as you sleep, your brain continues to process noise on a fundamental level. Light noise can cause you to toss and turn and experience a change in heart rate. Research states that people are more likely to wake up from hearing a noise that is familiar or emotionally triggered.
To manage noise pollution, try using a white noise machine, fan, air purifier or something that creates a steady background vibration. Another option is to wear earplugs.
5. The Wrong Temperature
If you are having difficulty staying asleep all the way through the night or struggle with insomnia, it might be due to the temperature in your bedroom.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, as you start to become tired your body temperature decreases until it reaches its lowest temperature. As morning begins, your body temperature starts to increase. If you are too warm during the night, the increase in body temperature could be interfering with your body’s natural resting state, making your restless during the night.
Each person will have a different optimal temperate for sleeping. It is recommended experiment with temperatures until you find one that is suitable.
Similar to sugar and certain foods, caffeine is a stimulant. According to Sleep Education, caffeine reaches a peak level in your blood within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption. Its “half-life”, the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of it, is about 3 to 5 hours. The remaining caffeine can stay in your body up to a total of 14 hours. As you can see, large consumptions of caffeine through your day, especially late in the day, can interfere with your quality of sleep.
Scientists are finding that technology sends alerts and short wavelengths to the brain, disrupting sleeping habits. Electronic are keeping you “charged” ever after you try to fall asleep due to the melatonin release from light on devices. It is best to put your device on sleep mode, or strive to be off of it a least an hour before bed.
We now understand how important sleep health is for our wellbeing. In order to avoid sleep deprivation, we must be “cautious sleepers” and be wary of light, food and drinking habits, our use of technology and the temperature in which we sleep.