If you clicked on this article, it is safe to assume that you have been struggling with sleep health. Struggles regarding sleep are an extremely common issue. Whether you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, it is essential to identify where the problem is coming from. There are a lot of factors that go into your sleep health. If you can identify the issue, you can properly treat it moving forward. It is common for adults to seek prescriptions from their doctors to fix their sleep issues. While sleeping pills are safe and can help you, they may make you feel groggy the day after using them. Medication is more of a band-aid instead of a cure in this case. This article will discuss five common reasons you may have trouble sleeping, in addition to a few natural sleep remedies.
You may face a more severe sleep condition if you consistently sleep poorly. Unfortunately, sleep disorders are common in adults in the US. The most prevalent sleep disorder is insomnia. There are different kinds of insomnia, only your doctor can properly diagnose which kind you are experiencing. The two main types of insomnia are primary and secondary insomnia.
Primary insomnia is the kind of insomnia that is not linked to another underlying health condition. It is secondary insomnia if you experience insomnia as a side effect of other health issues. It is also important to note that you can experience either acute or chronic insomnia regardless if you are diagnosed with primary or secondary insomnia. Common insomnia symptoms include the following: difficulty falling asleep, periodically waking up throughout the night, waking up too early without the ability to fall back asleep, poor concentration, grogginess, and anxiety around sleep.
2. Anxiety Disorders
Another cause affecting your sleep health is any mental health struggles you may be dealing with. Those with anxiety disorders are highly likely to struggle with falling asleep every night due to excessive worrying. There is a lot of research linking anxiety and sleep issues together. The research concludes that anxiety can affect multiple stages of sleep and, as a result, can affect dreams. Those with anxiety disorders report having vivid dreams. These dreams tend to fall closer to nightmares. Nightmares lead to further anxiety since some may worry about their dreams. In addition to anxiety around sleep, poor sleep can make anxiety worse. This is a vicious cycle if not treated. It is highly recommended to seek therapy to work on anxieties and learn healthy coping mechanisms.
3. Too Much Caffeine
A very basic cause of poor sleep is too much caffeine intake. Consuming caffeine late in the day can lead to restless sleep. This is because research shows that caffeine reduces time in slow-wave sleep. Having caffeine later in the evening affects this sleep phase more and more the closer you have caffeine to your bedtime. To avoid caffeine poorly affecting your sleep health, make sure to stop having caffeine six hours before your bedtime at the minimum.
4. Screen Time
A common factor of poor sleep is using our phones, tablets, and computers before bedtime. All of these devices give off blue light that has similar effects on the body to sunlight. Our devices trick our bodies into thinking it is daytime. This affects sleep because our bodies produce less natural melatonin during the day. It is best to stop using technology that emits blue light thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime. If you are someone who reads on their phone or tablet before going to bed, make sure you invest in blue light glasses to help combat the adverse effects of screen usage.
5. Alcohol Consumption
Not many people would think alcohol could be the cause of their sleep issues since drinking can have a positive effect on getting someone to fall asleep. It is incredibly common for people to drink in the evening to relax before bed. However, while alcohol can get you to fall asleep, it negatively affects your sleep cycle once you’re asleep. Alcohol affects REM sleep the most, negatively affecting your body since this is the most restorative stage of sleep. Reflect on your alcohol consumption habits. You may feel better if you reduce drinking in the evenings.
You can use many natural sleep remedies immediately to help you get your needed rest. The first method is using essential oils for sleep. When you breathe in the essence of essential oils, the qualities of specific oils have calming effects on the mind and body. Receptors in the nose directly affect the brain through signals to specific neurotransmitters. As a reaction to this process, the brain releases chemicals related to calmness. Having a calm mind directly affects your ability to fall asleep. Common essential oils for sleep are lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood.
The second natural sleep remedy is meditation. Meditation is a mindfulness practice where the goal is to achieve mental clarity. It is a skill that can be learned over time and a skill you can grow stronger at. For example, you can meditate by focusing on your breathing. A 2011 study in New York concluded that meditation improved participants’ insomnia and sleep quality. This study took place over a few months where people were taught different meditation forms and practiced techniques individually and in group settings. You can find free guided meditation videos online.
The final natural sleep remedy is using over-the-counter melatonin supplements. Many people who suffer from sleep disorders take supplements because research shows they can help the body fall asleep in a shorter period. In 2016, a group of researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences examined how melatonin therapy affected sleep in shift workers. The research concluded that when taking three milligrams of melatonin each night, workers experienced falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
If you are experiencing ongoing sleep issues, consult your physician to see if you are dealing with any other underlying health conditions. Remember to keep up with a consistent sleep schedule and limit triggers that affect your body from falling asleep in the first place.