Four Reasons You’re Not Getting Quality Sleep

I sleep way too much. Or not enough. I'm not sure, because it feels like I'm sleeping for basically my whole life but my smart watch doesn't think I'm actually sleeping those hours. It must be that my sleep isn't quality and that is why despite all the hours in bed I'm perpetually exhausted. Here are some reasons why you might not be getting quality sleep.

Millions of Americans deal with sleep deprivation each night. Maybe you struggle to fall asleep, or maybe you wake up multiple times throughout the night. If you consistently feel tired, poor sleep quality may be the culprit.

But what causes poor sleep? It could be any number of things. Sometimes, it’s a simple issue, like too much artificial light. At other times, it’s a serious medical condition, like sleep apnea or addiction to drugs. For many people, a combination of factors prevents quality sleep. If you’re not getting the rest that you need, here are four possible reasons why.

1. Substances That Prevent Sleep

Do you drink coffee on a regular basis? If you’ve been drinking coffee for years, you may not feel it as strongly as you used to. Some regular coffee drinkers assume that because they’re used to caffeine, an afternoon cup won’t hurt their sleep.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Even if you don’t feel a big energy boost from your coffee, the caffeine can cause sleep trouble for about six hours after you drink it.

Other substances, especially illicit drugs, can also harm your sleep quality. Stimulants such as cocaine, for example, can keep people awake for hours. Alcohol has also been found to cause sleep disturbances.

If you deal with substance abuse, getting treatment is the best way to restore your sleep. Ask a doctor for recommendations, or look up rehab centers in your area.

2. Artificial Light

Sleep and wake cycles are determined by the body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal clock.” When you’re exposed to sunlight in the morning, your body receives a signal that tells you to wake up. Then, at night, the darkness tells your body that it’s time to wind down. The darkness prompts the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone.

Artificial light disrupts that process. Overhead lights, TV screens, phone screens, and other light sources can send the same “wake up” signals as natural light. Bright lights may stop your brain from producing the melatonin it needs to fall asleep.

3. Exercising at the Wrong Time

Exercise can certainly help you get a better night’s sleep, but exercising at the wrong time can make falling asleep a difficult task. Much like artificial light, exercising too close to bedtime can send the wrong signals to the body.

As you wind down for the evening, your body prepares for sleep by slowing your heart rate and lowering your core temperature. Exercise does the opposite, raising your heart rate and temperature. If you exercise too close to bedtime, your body receives wakefulness signals instead of sleep signals, so it may take longer for you to settle down and fall asleep.

4. Stress

Stress can cause sleep disturbances, too. People with anxiety disorders often struggle to sleep. Situational stress can also interrupt your sleep. If you’re worried about work, finances, health, or similar struggles, thinking about these issues at night can keep you from drifting off.

Worse, lack of sleep can increase stress hormones such as cortisol. Those stress hormones may reinforce your insomnia, and you may find yourself caught in a vicious cycle as a result.

What to Do about Poor Sleep

When you know the cause of your sleep disruptions, you can apply solutions to improve your rest. However, if you’ve already addressed the above solutions and still struggle to get quality sleep, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Whatever the reason for your sleep issues, you need and deserve rest.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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