Trouble sleeping at night? 5 factors affecting your sleep

September 30, 2020 6 mins read
Trouble sleeping at night? 5 factors affecting your sleep

It’s 3am, your eyes are wide open, and not even the usual sheep trick can cure your trouble sleeping at night. What are the sleep-stealers invading your peaceful slumber?

Was it the snore-symphony of you-know-who next to you? Or, could it have been that last Netflix and nightcap combo? Dare you even think about turning to Google to concoct a list of symptoms that will say it’s something more sinister…

Hey, you’re not alone. (Or doomed to eternal exhaustion). According to research, almost a third of us battle to get out of bed in the morning because we failed to get good quality sleep.

Luckily, we’re here as your sleep experts to help you identify what (or who) is sapping your sleep and get you back to bed. Stat.

What stops you from sleeping at night?

There are many sleep thieves that could be robbing your shut-eye. Age, genetics, that-time-of-the-month, diet, lifestyle, deadlines, and even travel (why blame the good stuff, hey?) could all be to blame.

Did you know that your body turns into a restorative machine when you close your eyes at night? Your body is hard at work cycling through the 5 stages of sleep, fixing, restoring, recalibrating, and even rejuvenating (yes, beauty sleep is real) while you switch off from your daily task-list…

This is why getting good sleep and identifying these thieving sleep bandits is vital to allow your body to keep up with your daily pace.

5 Reasons you have trouble sleeping

We get it. How do you know what is causing your sleeplessness? Where do you even start?

Welcome to your sleep audit. Please get a pen and paper and feel free to make some notes. We’re about to explain why one of these five sleep-burglars could be your witching-hour waker:

1. Diet

Are you the type of person that stashes midnight treats in your nightstand? Or do you love a good spicy dinner accompanied by a glass of vino? We’re sorry to say, but these are the type of diet choices that might play a role in your sleep. (Or lack thereof).

Here are some foods and beverages that are sleep no-nos:

  • Cheese and cured meats
  • Spicy foods
  • Dark chocolate
  • Cruciferous vegetables, AKA difficult-to-digest vegetables
  • Red meat
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

2. Sleep disorders

Although there are things we can control that affect our sleep, there are a few sleep-demons that come along with our genetics. Whereas external sleep disruptors can be nipped in the bud, sleep disorders can affect your overall health, safety, and quality of life.

If you’re experiencing any of the below, have a chat with your GP to see how best to treat your symptoms.

These are the most common sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia: when you have the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night.
  • Sleep apnea (or snoring): where you experience unusual breathing patterns that can wake you.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): usually in the older generation, is a type of disorder that causes you to have uncomfortable sensations in your limbs, often twitching and moving as you fall asleep.
  • Narcolepsy: this is a condition which causes extreme sleepiness and the ability to fall asleep suddenly during the day.

3. Too much caffeine

Just say no to another cup of coffee. Especially if you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep. Did you know that your caffeine fix doesn’t just come from your morning cuppa? Watch out for the sneaky caffeine that hides in fizzy drinks, chocolate (gasp!), and tea too.

Close to bedtime, opt for a soothing sleep tea to help you relax and induce those heavy eyelids as you get ready for bed.

4. Overthinking

Your head hits the pillow, and your mind suddenly kicks into overdrive. We’ve all been there. That’s stress speaking. Decompressing from your day is vital in assisting you in getting to sleep. This means putting the work down, turning off your phone, and experimenting with a few relaxation techniques (like a guided meditation or sleep music) right before bed.

We know that switching off from the world is harder than it seems, so we do recommend taking the necessary steps to help alleviate anxiety. Try to keep up a regular exercise regime as this has been known to help you nod off faster and sleep more soundly.

5. Hormones

Sorry ladies, here come the hot flashes, period induced insomnia, and pregnancy sleeplessness.

If you’ve experienced a sleepless night for no apparent reason lately, you’re welcome to blame your lady-bits. Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on sleep. When your hormone levels spike or drop, such as during your period, during and after pregnancy, and especially around menopause, you’re more likely to be vulnerable to sleep problems.

How to stop having trouble sleeping

Getting a good night’s sleep takes effort, and sometimes you have to put down the remote to ensure your body is getting the rest it needs to perform the next day.

Here’s the thing, to feel your best during the day (and become that morning person you dream about), you need good, quality sleep. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand you can wave to make that happen (go ahead, blame life, genetics, and your bed partner).

But there are some simple steps you can incorporate into your daily life to help get you to sleep better.

  • Get outdoors and absorb the natural light. Exposing yourself to natural light in the morning or earlier in the day helps keep your circadian rhythm in check, and your melatonin (sleep hormone) topped up.
  • Leave your workday at the front door. Prepare your sleep schedule by shutting out any stress to give yourself enough time to wind down before bed.
  • Prepare your sanctuary. Make sure your bedroom feels like a sleep oasis. Is your mattress the right firmness? Are your curtains blocking out enough light? Is the temperate cool? These will help you sleep better and longer.
  • Adjust your senses. Signal to your mind that it’s time to sleep. Try sleep music, meditation, sleep teas, or a hot bath to ease your transition from day to night.
  • Unplug the noise. If your bed-fellow keeps you up at night or the outside world seems to never get to sleep, shutting out the noise with earplugs can help quieten your mind into a sleeping state.
  • Set your alarm. Keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule is an essential part of getting quality sleep. Not only are you training your body when it’s time to sleep, but also allowing your body clock to identify the signals between waking hours and sleeping hours.

There is nothing worse than lying awake all night, wondering why your body refuses to obey a simple sleep rule. But by having a better understanding as to why you might not be getting as much sleep as you would like and by incorporating a better sleep hygiene routine, you’ll soon be on your way to the land of z’s.