In today’s world, sleep is becoming a precious commodity. Environmental and social stress affects our body’s natural ability to get a good quality night’s sleep, so we feel tired and drained even after sleeping for eight hours. Let’s briefly examine the factors that may be hindering our sleep so we can take the necessary steps to make a good night’s rest our norm.
Lack of exercise: There is a massive difference between working all day and dedicated exercise. Your job may be physically challenging but it might not be what your body needs in terms of intensity and output. One client of mine had a terrible time getting a full night’s sleep. He increased his activity by introducing some walking to and from the grocery store every day for a few daily items, and since then sleeping through the night has become far more regular for him.
Poor diet: If we are working very long hours and have absolutely no time for extra activity, then we are most likely in a situation where we are eating more processed foods and consuming higher quantities of caffeine. Adjusting our diet through sustainable steps can lead us to a better situation where we get the quality sleep we need.
Stress: This is the worst sleep disturber of them all. When we become stressed, the fight or flight response can be triggered. In turn, we may have trouble falling asleep because our bodies are on high alert. Managing stress is a very difficult topic to write about because there are many different causes and levels of stress, and the triggers and how they are dealt with is different for each person.
Healthy stress management can come in a variety of packages: breathing techniques, stretching, exercise, massage, and a variety of hobbies and activities. If stress is keeping you up at night try determining what stressful factor is affecting you and why. The best course of action is to consult a professional who can help you find out the cause of your stress and take steps to reduce it.
Routine: The night-time ritual you have can affect your sleep pattern. If you are a “snack before bed” kind of person, then the chances of your sleep being disturbed are much higher. Allowing a few hours between your last meal of the day and your bed time will increase the quality of your sleep. Browsing the internet and/or watching TV shows late at night will also affect your sleep so take time before bed to shut off technology and do something that will relax you such as reading or stretching.
Other causes of sleeplessness can include: noise, medications, late day coffee, mental illness, and so on. Take note of your environment and daily routine to find out what may be affecting your sleep patterns.
Now that we know where to look for causes of poor sleep, in the next article we will discuss some practical things we can do to get a good night’s sleep.
Caitlyn Harbottle is a Peace Region nutrition coach.