Getting quality sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The overall quality of your sleep can lead to negative health outcomes including high blood pressure, obesity, lack of energy, and poor concentration. There are many reasons why people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
Stress can lead to difficulties falling asleep. Hormones released due to stress include adrenaline and cortisol, which make individuals feel wide awake and unable to initiate sleep. If you are having a stressful day, make sure to unwind and relax for at least an hour before your scheduled bedtime. Relaxing could include reading a book, taking a bath, and engaging in relaxation and breathing exercises.
Consuming products with caffeine prior to sleep can seriously affect your sleeping patterns. Depending on metabolism, caffeine can stay in the bloodstream for as long as eight to 14 hours. You should keep in mind that there are many foods and drinks that contain caffeine including chocolate.
Uncomfortable Sleep Environment
Having an uncomfortable sleep setting can delay and make sleeping much more difficult. Sleeping in an environment that is comfortable and relaxing will help you maintain quality sleep throughout the night. Keeping your room at a comfortable temperature, blocking out irritating sounds, and having a comfortable mattress and pillow may help you maintain your sleeping schedule.
Alcohol can produce feelings of sleepiness, but as it is metabolizing, the level of alcohol is diminished and its effects wear off. After the alcohol wears off, the levels of sleepiness diminish, and late-night waking occurs. Alcohol consumption prior to sleeping also reduces the amount of time spent in REM sleep. REM is very important, as it is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and learning.
Alcohol increases the amount of time spent in non-REM sleep, which is a much lighter sleeping stage. Alcohol can also lead to poor breathing, as mucus membranes swell after alcohol consumption. This may lead to heavier breathing, which makes oxygen travel to the lungs much more difficult. Overall, alcohol use before bed leads to low-quality sleep.
Eating before going to sleep can interrupt sleep patterns. Interruption of sleep can occur due to eating too much or too little prior to bed. Eating a large meal before bed may lead to acid reflux, which then leads to pain, coughing, and heartburn. Dinner should be eaten around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. in order to avoid acid reflux. Generally, dinner should be eaten at least four hours prior to going to sleep.