What is Causing You to Lose Sleep?
You worked a ten-hour day, ran errands after work, cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen, and got ready for bed. But even though you should feel exhausted, you’re still wide awake. You watch the clock for hours, knowing tomorrow will be a hard day if you don’t hurry up and get to sleep. And yet you just cannot convince your mind and body to shut down!
Sound familiar? The above is a common scenario, causing millions of us to suffer chronic sleep deprivation. It might take hours to fall asleep at night, but you still have to get up at the same time tomorrow morning. Since you can’t convince the rest of the world to live on your schedule, it’s time to figure out why you’re losing sleep at night. In most causes, it comes down to one or more of the following factors.
You’re stressed. Many people have trouble “turning off” their brains at night, usually due to worries and stress. Implementing a daily meditation or yoga practice in the evenings can help you learn to relax.
You drank too much caffeine. It can take up to 8 hours for caffeine to completely clear your system, so drinking coffee after 2pm isn’t a good idea if you want to get to sleep on time.
You got your second wind. The human mind is programmed to feel sleepy around 11pm at night (depending upon the season). But if you don’t get to bed during your window of opportunity, your body will release a burst of cortisol, a stress hormone, that will keep you awake for a few more hours.
You exposed yourself to bright lights. Your brain is programmed to release melatonin, which helps you to feel sleepy, at the end of the day when natural light wanes. But Mother Nature didn’t plan on us inventing electricity, overhead lights, and televisions! This exposure to light, even from a small screen such as a smart phone, decreases your melatonin levels. You have trouble falling asleep, even though you’ve been up for 16 hours.
You exercised too late in the day. Regular exercise will help you sleep better, but with one caveat: Don’t exercise within two hours of your bedtime, or the adrenaline rush will keep you awake for hours.
You watched a violent TV show or movie. Whether from an adrenaline rush or because it causes mental stress, viewing violent images in the evening will keep you awake. You’re supposed to reduce your screen time at night anyway, due to the light issue described above, but if you do watch television before bed you should choose nonviolent, low stress programming.