Have trouble sleeping? Never again with these 15 quick fixes.

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I remember having trouble sleeping as a kid.

 

Those were the days when I would just lay awake and let my imagination run wild.

 

Some nights, I stayed up thinking about the solar system. Others, I spent worrying about how I could make friends at school.

Remember when you thought life was tough as a kid?

Those were my younger days, before my stresses and anxieties started compounding with my trouble sleeping.

 

Once college came around, everything changed. I realized that I absolutely hated the civil engineering and electrical engineering that I had experienced. That, compounded with other life events that occurred at that time, drove me deep into depression for about a year.

 

When it came to sleep, I was completely out of luck. I found myself lying awake, during most nights of the week, unable to fall asleep until just moments before the sun rose back up.

Lack of sleep started to become a normal part of my life

I had no idea how I could improve my troubled sleeping.

 

Being the on-and-off stoner college kid, that I was at the time, self-medication played a big role in how I got myself through that phase. I would be willing to try whatever it took to knock me out and keep me asleep throughout the night. As I slowly started re-gaining more control over my mind and emotions, I realized that medication was not the answer that I needed.

 

We often take a good night’s rest for granted. Just like exercise, we’ll put it off until we find time for it. Unfortunately, your trouble sleeping at night can compound into many consequences, later on down the road. You’ve probably noticed it too. Whether you’re hanging out at the bar late at night or cleaning up after a large family visit, you know that work never gets any easier the next day.

Lack of sleep can slowly ruin your life in many different aspects

How trouble sleeping can ruin your life

Although the true purpose of sleep is still debated among scientists, we’ve reached a pretty solid consensus that humans need sufficient sleep to function properly. We also understand that not getting enough sleep can be seriously damaging to the body. Here are a couple conditions that result from short term lack of sleep.

  • Lack of alertness: As little as missing 1.5 hours of sleep can cause a lack of alertness throughout your day.
  • Impaired memory: Sleep deprivation makes it harder for you to accomplish tasks throughout the day.
  • Relationship stress: We all have experienced feeling cranky after a poor night’s of rest, but what we might not consider is how that lack of sleep is affecting our relationships.
  • Quality of life: By not meeting daily sleep needs, we become less likely to participate in activities that promote healthy living such as exercise, socializing, and proper nutrition
  • Greater likelihood for car accidents: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that lack of sleep accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities each year. In fact, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Don’t let lack of sleep ruin your life and body

If that isn’t enough persuasion to get you to sit down and rethink your sleep behaviors, here are the more serious complications that can happen to your body once sleep deprivation becomes a long term habit.

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Lower sex drive
  • Skin aging
  • Weight gain

 

Binging on Netflix doesn’t sound so appealing anymore does it?

Don’t be like this bear

How much sleep do I need?

The amount of sleep that everyone needs varies on an individual basis. However, the National Sleep Foundation is always working to keep us updated on how much sleep we all need. This is the latest version of their recommendations, broken down into age groups.

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

 

Since many of these sleep recommendations fall within a pretty generous window, the sleep foundation has also recommended individuals to ask themselves a few questions to determine what their perfect number is.

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving?

 

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how much sleep you need, let’s talk about how you’re going to meet your sleep requirements in terms of both quality and quantity.

You can find out what quantities of sleep work better for you by testing

6 habits that are ruining your sleep

Using electronics late into the evening

This is probably a common problem for most of us. I know that some of my own trouble sleeping comes from electronics use late into the evening.

 

Unfortunately, the impacts that electronics have on sleep go far beyond distractions. The blue light emitted by most electronic devices suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone that is crucial in helping our bodies fall, and stay, asleep.

 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you get off electronics at least one hour before you plan on sleeping. This gives your body time to relax and unwind without the unnecessary stimulation from electronic-generated blue light.

The blue light that electronics emit can disrupt sleep

I heard Arianna Huffington speak about how we have become way too reliant on technology nowadays. She understands, very clearly, that many of us suffer from trouble sleeping, due to overuse of electronics, and recommends leaving electronics as far from your bed as possible.

 

That isn’t a bad habit to take up. As a culture, we have let so much of our work and personal lives get tied up in social platforms that cellular activity has adopted many of our stresses with it.

 

Just by laying hands on your phone, you could bring up all the anxieties and stress that are brought out by unfinished business from work or an ongoing conversations on social media – the worst thing to help relax before bed.

Coffee can have many health benefits, but drinking in the afternoon can impact sleep

Caffeine after lunch

A couple cups of coffee can seem like the easiest way to stay awake and focused throughout your day, but that coffee won’t be doing your sleep any favors. Just because you don’t feel the effects of the caffeine, doesn’t mean it’s cleared out of your system.

 

A study, from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, was able to show that even having coffee 6 hours prior to bedtime negatively impacted the participants’ quality of sleep. Even after the participants reported no feeling of caffeine left in their bodies, the impact on their sleep was still present.

 

I tend to be on the sensitive side of caffeine, so I’ve cut coffee out of my routine to avoid trouble sleeping. Instead, I look to less-caffeinated options, like green tea.

Alcohol can severely impact your quality of sleep

Drinking alcohol at night

Alcohol is definitely an evening favorite that people use to unwind from work and get ready for bed. In fact, 20% of adult Americans choose to use alcohol as a sleep aid.

 

Little does that 20% know, alcohol has shown to cause our body’s circadian rhythm to function irregularly for over 24 hours after consumption. Not only that, but a drink before bed can severely impact your body’s ability to shift into a much needed REM sleep phase.

 

If you find that you have trouble sleeping after your regular nightcap, you might want to try cutting that out or switching it for something a little different.

If you plan on eating later on in the evening, try to keep it light


Eating large meals before bedtime

Whether you’re coming home from a night out, or just finishing up late at work, you might want to think twice before grabbing that late night snack.

 

By late night snack, I mean anything past 7 PM! Eating late at night can cause a whole host of different problems, including increased levels of insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. If that isn’t enough bad news for nighttime meals, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that eating in the evening has shown to directly reduce the the quality of sleep.

 

If you have trouble sleeping after a large meal, try to arrange for all of your meals to be eaten prior to 7 PM. Not only can planning your eating schedule save your body from a whole bunch of suffering, it gives you the ability to choose what foods you will be eating.

If you’re still smoking, please stop

Quit smoking already

You probably don’t need any more reasons to quit smoking, but I’ll tell you anyways. Trouble sleeping is just one, of many, harmful side effects that smoking can have on the human body. Here are a couple sleep-related conditions that can result from tobacco usage:

  • Disrupted circadian rhythm
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless sleep
  • Insomnia

 

Although many of these smoking-induced conditions improve after quitting smoking, they never seem to result back to the levels of non-smokers. If you haven’t quit already, this would be a great time to do so.

 

If you’re still smoking, stop.

 

You should be well aware of all the horrible effects that smoking has on your body at this point. If this offends you, good. You could stop reading my blog or stop smoking.

Consult your doctor to see if any of your medications might cause you trouble sleeping

Medications

This is one of the topics where you should consult your doctor before making any decisions off what you learned on the internet.

 

That prescription that you got from your doctor, or even the cold medicine that you found in your local pharmacy, can be the culprit behind your trouble sleeping at night. According to Webmd, these are a couple of prescriptions that you might want to keep an eye on if you’ve been struggling with falling asleep:

  • Some high blood pressure medications
  • Hormones such as oral contraceptives
  • Steroids, including prednisone
  • Respiratory inhaled medications
  • Diet pills
  • ADD and ADHD drugs
  • Some anti-depressants
  • Pseudoephedrine, including the brand Sudafed
  • Drugs with caffeine, including the brands Anacin, Excedrin, and No-Doz, as well as some cough and cold medications
  • Illegal drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines
  • Nicotine

 

If you suspect that your trouble with sleep has to do with your medications, ask your doctor to figure out what might be the best action for you.

 

9 easy fixes for your sleep troubles

I put together a handful of easy strategies, that you can implement right away, to fix your trouble sleeping. I don’t recommend that you try all of them at the same time. Start with 1-3 that you’re interested in, and build up from there.

Essential oils have really helped reverse my trouble sleeping

Essential oils

As someone who experienced periodic insomnia throughout my life, this has to be one of the most effective tools that I have tried. Essential oils don’t just smell great, they can affect the mind and body in a ton of positive ways. One of which, is better sleep through increased relaxation and reduced anxieties. Here are a couple essential oils that help promote better sleep quality – my favorite is definitely lavender:

  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Rose
  • Lemon
  • Geranium
  • Frankincense
  • Vetiver
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood

 

When it comes to essential oils, I recommend you try to play around with a couple of different blends to see what works best for your sleep needs.

Who doesn’t have to wake up to pee after drinking too much fluids in the evening?

Reduce fluid intake later in the evening

Ever have to get up in the middle of the night to pee? Ya. As someone who regularly is consuming 1-2 gallons of water a day, I’ve learned that I need to use the bathroom a lot. If I don’t begin limiting my fluid intake as the evening progresses, I’m almost guaranteed to get up for a bathroom run.

 

Now, this isn’t a recommendation for you to drink less water, but try to have a cutoff point in the evening. I notice that if I can cutoff my water intake about 90 minutes prior to bedtime, I’m much less likely to be waking up in the middle of the night in need of the bathroom.

Lower the temperatures in the evening to curl up and get a better sleep

Lower the temperature

Body temperature and environmental temperature are two important factors to sleep quality.

 

You know exactly how it feels to be sweating under those blankets on warm summer nights, and freezing under the same covers when winter rolls around. California just can’t seem to make up it’s mind, can it? The ideal room temperature for sleep falls at around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you don’t have access to running the air conditioning all night, give these a try:

  • Keep a window open
  • Turn on a fan
  • Sleep naked
  • Sleep closer to the floor
Planning out an evening routine can significantly improve your quality of sleep

Create a bedtime routine

Creating a regular bedtime routine enables you to take full control of how you fall asleep. As much as we enjoy it, staring at a screen is definitely not going to help us improve our quality of sleep, in the slightest. Instead opt for some other options to help you relax and unwind as the night wraps up.

 

A couple activities that I would recommend are:

  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Read a non-work-related book
  • Practice breathing techniques
  • Drink un-caffeinated tea
  • Have sex
  • Journal about your day
  • Clean up and prep for tomorrow
  • Take a warm bath
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help your body be ready for sleep

Stick to a sleep schedule

The human body run on an internal clock, called the circadian rhythm. This clock tells our body when it’s time to eat, sleep, and a whole bunch of other human behaviors. The problem is, when we create too much deviation from our internal rhythm, our bodies have trouble signaling the right time to perform required tasks.

 

If you’re someone who has a constantly changing sleep schedule, day by day, then your body may not be able to keep up with that constant change. This can impact the quality of sleep you have, because your body will be trying to send out signals that aren’t properly lined up with your schedule.

 

By setting your own sleep schedule, you’ll get the benefit of working with your body to signal tasks at the appropriate time, but also you’ll be able to better guarantee a full night’s rest – as long as you stick to that schedule! If you ask me, more sleep is definitely a big win for anyone.

Naps can be a great tool to refresh energy levels throughout the day, but longer naps during the day may impact sleep in the evening

Keep naps short

It’s 2 PM and your eyelids are starting to feel heavy. You’re not alone. Our bodies are programmed to feel sleepy, sometime in the early afternoon, and to make matters worse, a morning coffee and poor choice of lunch will only add to that sleepiness.

 

There’s no doubt that a quick nap will help boost your energy and get you back to peak performance. Just make sure to keep that nap short, 20-30 minutes, to avoid affecting your sleep later on that night.

 

If you’re looking to bump up energy levels midway through the day, see how you react to taking a caffeine nap.

 

This strategy includes consuming caffeine right before taking a quick 20 minute nap. The caffeine that you have will kick in just about at the same time you wake up, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re ready for nap mode, as soon as you down that drink.

 

A study, done by the Hiroshima University, showed that a caffeine nap was the most effective way to boost performance levels out of the five methods: 20-minute nap only, 200 mg caffeine plus 20-minute nap, 20-minute nap plus bright light upon awakening, 20-minute nap plus face-wash, and no nap.

Not only is exercise an amazing tool for better health, it can also improve your quality of sleep

Exercise regularly

One of the biggest sleep myths out there is that exercising before bed can negatively affect your sleep. Not only does exercise show great improvements to energy levels throughout the day, it also seems to have a positive effect on quality of sleep in active individuals. In fact, a moderate intensity workout program has shown to be able to improve quality of sleep by 65%.

 

However, if you have trouble sleeping at night, the story might be a little different.

 

People who face insomnia will need to be a little more committed to exercise in order to see the results. Cases of insomnia can stem from neurological differences in the brain. These differences can make it difficult to adapt to potential added stresses that exercise can create. But by maintaining a consistent exercise routine, the stress response in these individuals can be greatly reduced, which leads to improved quality of sleep and better stress management in the long run.

Turn off lights at night reduce any unwanted brain activity

Turn off all lights

Light plays an important role in regulating our circadian rhythm, the clock that signals our bodies when it’s time to sleep, wake, and perform countless other tasks. When we allow our bodies to be exposed to light at the correct times of day, our circadian rhythm functions much more efficiently.

 

On the other hand, irregular exposure can affect the time and amount of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, that our bodies produce. This can make it harder to fall asleep when bed time rolls around.

 

Although any light can inhibit the body from producing melatonin, blue light is the worst of the offenders. Unfortunately, blue light is also the primary light that is emitted from our electronic devices, such as: smartphones, tablets, TVs, and computer screens.

 

Harvard researchers showed that blue light emissions can delay the speed, that melatonin is released, by twofold. That can severely impact the quality of sleep for individuals who are in front of digital devices, in the evening, on a daily basis.

Drown out the sound at night with a white noise machine

Drown out your trouble sleeping with white noise

You’ve probably experienced poor sleep, at one point or another, due to loud noises. Whether it’s from your partner snoring too loud, sleeping near a freeway or airport, or just trying to sleep in on Sunday, while the kids are playing tag outside the door. What you might not these noise disturbances can cause various cardiometabolic, psychiatric, and social conditions over time.

 

An effective way to avoid letting noise get the best of your sleep is with a white noise emitting sound machine.

 

White noise is just a steady stream of sound that can help mask the noises, which may otherwise get in the way of your sleep. Although the research on white noise machines and sleep are still limited, many people find that having some sort of white noise can greatly improve the quality of their sleeping – including me!

If you haven’t seen enough cute animal photos, you probably didn’t read through the entire post

Conclusion

When it comes to trouble sleeping, our individual habits and behaviors can have a huge impact.

 

We always have the choice to set ourselves up for success, but many of us choose to sacrifice a good night’s sleep for instant pleasure. Take a moment today to think back on how many nights of poor sleep you’ve had in this past month. Each of those moments were wasted opportunities for you to wake up energized and focused to conquer your day.

 

Whether you’re trying to achieve that next promotion at work, take better care of your kids, or squeeze out every opportunity you have in life, take moment and reflect on just how much more you can accomplish with a little more attention to sleep.

 

Comment below and share how you plan to kiss your trouble sleeping goodbye!

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