Sleep: everybody needs it, but most of us aren’t getting it. Decades of research show that good sleep is essential to maintaining overall physical, emotional, and mental health. And yet, millions of Americans suffer from lack of restorative sleep. What then, is contributing to nighttime restlessness and morning exhaustion quelled only by the caffeine-laden cup of coffee? The solution may require more than just hitting the mattress an hour or two earlier. These 5 factors may be the reason you’re tossing and turning the night away:
In today’s technology-dependent society, the pervasive glow of laptops and cell phones attracts no more attention than a taxi does in New York. Who, these days, hasn’t fallen asleep with cellphone in hand? It turns out that exposure to light and darkness is key to regulating the body’s sleep and biological clock. Studies show that too much light before bed stimulates parts of the brain that play a role in making us feel sleepy. When it comes time to turn in, keep your sleep environment dark. This means powering down those electronics (your body will thank you in the morning).
As you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sound, which can prevent you from reaching the deeper stages of sleep. “Sound sleepers,” those that remain unphased by even the most obtrusive of noises, may possess unique, protective brain activity. But what can be done for those who wake a little easier? One easy fix is installing soundproof windows that dramatically cut down exposure to external noise. In fact, CitiQuiet’s soundproofing windows eliminate up to 95% of existing noise, providing serenity and comfort imperative for a good night’s sleep.
Sleep experts agree that the temperature of your sleep environment and how comfortable you feel in it predicts how well you’ll ultimately sleep. While determining an exact temperature for optimal sleep is difficult, it is generally recommended that the bedroom be kept between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. It may also help to steer clear of memory foam pillows as they tend to trap heat and may leave you too hot for comfort.
Sleep is directly influenced by different neurotransmitters in the brain, thus substance that alter the balance of these neurotransmitters have the ability to impact sleep. Drinks containing caffeine and certain medications stimulate parts of the brain that lead to increased difficulty in falling asleep. Similarly, heavy smokers often wake after only a few hours of sleep due to nighttime nicotine withdrawal. For the best sleep, avoid consuming caffeine 4-6 hours prior to bedtime, and limit daytime consumption. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes before sleep (or altogether!) if you’re committed to hitting that sweet, restorative REM cycle.
Stress begets poor sleep, poor sleep begets stress. This dangerous cycle can lead to irritability, impatience, lack of motivation, and more. While it is impossible to remove all of life’s stressors, there are steps you can take to limit their impact. For example, identifying the source of your stress enables you to implement a plan to eliminate the stressor. Further, exercise, a healthy diet, and optimizing your sleep environment, whether through soundproof windows or blackout shades, will help you sleep more soundly, and leave you in a better state to tackle the day’s stress.