7 Culprits Hijacking Your Sleep

If a peaceful night’s sleep is elusive, identifying the perpetrators might help solve the glitch.

You know what’s the difference between being good versus great with your relationships, health, work and finances? An extra hour or two of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is worrisome because research after research points that insufficient sleep not only makes you lethargic and groggy, it can lead to impaired cognition and memory, depression and anxiety.

Stress, worry, anxiety, what’s hijacking the sleep you crave?

1. You don’t have a schedule

Mom was right. You need to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on weekends. Sleep experts say that the best way to fall asleep quicker is to have a fixed schedule. Something else works perfectly with a fixed schedule: a bedtime routine. If you can get your brain to associate bedtime with relaxation, you are much more likely to have a good night’s sleep.

2. You’re using your phone too much

Blue light from our electronic devices inhibits the body’s serotonin production and that’s what prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep. So parking your devices close to your bed with you or tucking your smartphone in the bed with you are not very good ideas. They all stop you from sleeping. After all, Netflix has announced that its biggest competitor is sleep.

3. You’re overworked

There’s too much on your plate. You’re putting in long hours, have no leisure and your work day spills into the night. House chores and other responsibilities then spill into the next day. Declare an arbitrary end to your day. By finishing work earlier, you give yourself time to unwind and chill out, and gradually prepare yourself for sleep.

4. There’s caffeine in your body

Here’s a startling fact: Caffeine has a half-life of up to 7 hours. This means that if you have a coffee in the afternoon at 4 pm, by 11 pm, there is still potentially up to 50 per cent of the dosage of caffeine remaining in your system. This is perhaps what’s stopping you from sleeping because caffeine fires up the nervous system with cortisol and adrenaline. It gets you to wake up, not sleep.

5. You’re not exercising

Ever experienced the joy of being sufficiently tired that you fall asleep as soon as your cheek touches the pillow? A little bit of workout in the day can do it for you. It’s found that people sleep significantly better when they spend an hour exercising every other day. Of course, don’t exercise two to three hours before bed because exercise also gets your heart pounding and makes you alert.

6. You’re stressed

There’s good stress which is okay, but chronic stress isn’t. There is a host of illnesses it brings with it and the best solution is to try to relieve it. A simple idea is to change how you look at it. Don’t think of the damage stress can do, think of how it can shape and strengthen you. This is the best way to transform it and derive power from it.

7. You’re not investing in self-care

Do you have a bed-time routine? Do you spend time with yourself? Do you meditate, work out, spend time with family, friends, make time for your hobbies, or simply take a leisurely hot shower? If not, you’re pushing yourself too hard. What your body might actually need is more sleep so that it can do better everywhere: at work or at home. Allow yourself to sleep.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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