There are many factors that can affect your sleep quality and quantity. Regardless of the cause, every sleepless night takes a toll on your body and mind and can seriously throw off your game.
Here are four common reasons you might not be getting enough zzz’s and how to fix them.
1. YOUR MINDSET
The Problem: Often, those of us who have trouble sleeping can chalk it up to having too much on our minds. Information overload and an endless list of seemingly urgent tasks plague many people.
Kenny Kallen is a Performance Coach at our Redondo Beach facility who specializes in working with individuals trying to optimize their performance. He says it’s all too common that when “we finally get into bed and turn out the lights, we often find they are already thinking about what we have to do tomorrow, or what we should have done differently today! To make matters worse, we stare at the clock thinking ‘even if I fall asleep now, I will only get X hours of sleep!’”
The solution: The key here is to reduce your anxiety by calming your mind. This helps move your body into the parasympathetic state it requires to rest and recover. Coach Kallen suggests that “breathing can help you get into a more relaxed state. It’s very powerful because it creates both a physiological and psychological response. I recommend an exercise called ‘box breathing.’ Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold with breath exhaled for four seconds. Repeat this cycle 10 times, and take note of whether you feel more relaxed from when you started.”
2. YOUR DIET
The problem: You know caffeine is a stimulant, but you may not realize how long its effects last.
Some people also should avoid spicy foods and meals high in fat or sugar before bedtime. These can elevate heart rate or cause digestive issues that will keep you awake.
The solution: Check your caffeine intake. How much are you getting, and when (tea and many fitness drinks can be an unassuming culprit)?
“Try to restrict your coffee intake to the morning and drinking more water throughout the day,” says Kallen.
3. YOUR PHONE, TABLET AND COMPUTER
The problem: Everywhere you look experts tell you to unplug before bed.
The blue light emitted by screens can really impact your brain: it signals the brain and impairs its ability to produce melatonin which helps induce sleep.
The solution: Make it a point to unplug 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. If your phone or tablet has a “nighttime” setting that changes the screen tone from blue to more reddish, warm tones at night can also help. If your device doesn’t have this option, look to see if you can download an app that will do it for you.
If you want to create a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom, replace your bulbs with ones that filter out blue light and emit a softer glow.
4. YOUR BEDROOM
The problem: It’s probably not a news flash that your environment affects your sleep. Too much light, noise, and heat are all factors that can disrupt your sleep. Try to not have a clock or any lights visible that might draw your attention.
The solution: Ideally, your bedroom would be designed to be a sleep sanctuary. Make sure your curtains block out all light, and buy a quality mattress and pillow to assist your sleep.
Sound can also be a problem. While you can’t move your house or change your neighbors, you can do your best to create a place that feels restful to you that you only use for sleeping.
If you are having problems sleeping, go on the offensive. A lack of sleep impacts your performance in all aspects of life.
Instead of leaving it to chance, look to fix these things that may be getting in the way.