Sleep has been widely recognized as one of the most important aspects of health and well being. Good quality sleep has been shown to increase our alertness, improve our mood, and even keep our metabolism functioning. We are able to respond more quickly and creatively to problems and are less likely to be irritable. Good sleep can have a profound impact on the quality of our life, work, and relationships. Equally, poor quality sleep or a disturbed night’s sleep can affect us very negatively. While a few bad nights here and there are usually normal and easy to correct, we should be vigilant against chronic insomnia. Poor sleep can have a rapid effect on our ability to function. Our appetite can change and our moods can become unstable. We can find it impossible to concentrate and may even become tearful or anxious. Over time, we are far more vulnerable to conditions like depression.
Although the importance of sleep is being emphasized more widely these days, many people are still struggling to sleep. With heavy workload, family commitments, and busy social lives, everyone is trying to be wide awake. For the short length of time they can commit to sleep, they may find it difficult to switch off their minds and bodies. You may feel like you would like to improve your sleeping patterns. But if you don’t know the real causes of any problems, it can be hard to find solutions. There are several problems that constitute the most common causes of disturbed sleep. By knowing them, you can put measures in place that will help you to achieve a good night’s sleep whatever your circumstances.
Cause: Anxiety and Worry
Solution: Take Action
Many people struggle with anxiety and a sense of dread that can become worse at night. For a small proportion of people, it has no discernible cause and may even require medication for treatment. For a higher number of us, however, we are worrying about a few specific things. Two of the most common worries are family and finances. New parents are likely to have very disrupted sleeping patterns while the baby needs feeding throughout the night. But even after this phase has passed, many parents find themselves awake worrying whether baby is alright. Financial worries may be radically different but they can have a similar effect. We feel like we have no time to address them in the day. But when our mind quietens at night, they are all we can think about. The solution to both is to take action. If you know that you worry about your baby in the night, consider moving the child closer to you or investing in a baby monitor. By studying baby monitor reviews, we can find a reliable model that we can trust to let us know if anything is wrong. That way, we can sleep soundly knowing that we ourselves don’t have to be on high alert. If baby needs our attention, we will hear him or her through the monitor. Financial worries need a similarly practically-based course of action. We should make an effort to understand our problem in detail, seek professional advice, and then take necessary action. Some problems may diminish if we ignore them, but financial problems are rarely one of them. By taking action quickly, we will be able to prevent a bad situation from worsening. We should try to apply this principle to all of our problems. Our worries will reduce and our health and sleep will improve.
Cause: Too Much Light
Solution: Reduce Screen time and Invest in Curtains
Our brains are exceptionally sensitive to light signals. They use light to tell them when to be awake and alert and when it is time to sleep. Modern life has more artificial light than ever. With the advent of tablets and mobile phones, a high proportion of people bombard themselves with light long into the night. The light from screens is perhaps especially harmful to sleep because of its high concentration of blue light. This is specifically what sends signals to our brain to stay awake. There are two ways we should aim to combat this. We can invest in apps that minimize or remove blue light, such as Flux and similar examples. We can also dramatically reduce our screen time after a certain time of day. Reading a book, listening to music or a podcast, or taking a warm relaxing bath are all better alternatives for unwinding.
Another aspect of light interference that you may be unaware of is in the quality of your curtains. Most of us do not need to rise exactly when the sun does. In fact, we may need those crucial extra hours of deep sleep before it’s time to go to work or get the children ready. But most people’s curtains are not up to scratch. They let in the light not only through gaps but also through the material itself. The room starts to become lighter from the very early hours and prevents us from achieving a deep, quality sleep. Consider light-canceling curtains or thick blinds to combat this problem. You might be amazed how much more refreshed you feel in a morning.
Solution: Ear plugs and Ambient Music
Loud or sudden noises can have one of the most damaging effects on our sleep. But if we live in an urban area or near a trainline, for example, it can seem that there is little we can do. Many people do not consider some solutions available to them, however. The technology for ear plugs has improved dramatically over the years and can effectively cancel or muffle noise. It can be helpful to have them in while we fall asleep. Even if a loud noise occurs later, we may have had the chance to reach a deep state of sleep by then and not be disturbed. Another solution can be relaxing, ambient music. Many apps like Spotify and Itunes now have tracks that are specifically designed for sleep, meditation or relaxation. Some music at a certain tempo or with a certain number of beats is more conducive to sleep. Select it carefully and you may not even notice other distracting noises around you. Train yourself only to focus on the relaxing sounds in the music and you might lose yourself enough to drop into a deep sleep. As a result of being well-rested, you may be more positive and productive the next day.