Are you one of the 50 to 70 million Americans that don’t get sufficient sleep at night?
According to the 2022 State of Sleep Health survey, 70 percent of American adults report insufficient sleep at least one night a month. 11 percent of adults report insufficient sleep every night. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), insufficient sleep is a “public health epidemic.”
There are a lot of ways that you could be sabotaging your sleep— and you may not even realize it!
So if you’ve been struggling with poor sleep, here’s how you might be sabotaging yourself.
5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Sleep (And How to Fix It)
Your lifestyle and personal habits have the greatest impact on how well you sleep each night. The difference between getting adequate sleep and having sleep difficulties may seem small, but it’s more significant than you may think.
Here are 5 common ways you might be sabotaging your sleep— and how to fix each sleep problem so you can get back to the healthy sleep you deserve.
1. You Ignore Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
This is number one for good reason! Sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are major causes of poor sleep and can have a devastating impact on your overall health. The problem is many people who have these disorders don’t know that they have them! Most of their symptoms occur at night while you’re sleeping, so it’s difficult to know that something is wrong until you’re waking up feeling exhausted and worn out.
Alternatively, maybe you are aware of your symptoms— maybe you even have a diagnosis— but you’re not getting treated. Maybe you think you can handle your symptoms or think that they’re not that bad. Or perhaps you dread the idea of having to sleep while connected to a bulky and unattractive machine.
Whatever the reason is, you’re doing yourself a disservice by sweeping your symptoms under the rug!
If you’re consistently getting poor sleep, talk to your doctor or a sleep expert about your symptoms as soon as possible.
Sleep disorders aren’t like the common cold or a seasonal bug that will go away on its own in time. Sleep disorders must be treated if you want your symptoms to improve.
Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms. It could be the difference between a good night’s sleep or another restless night.
- Chronic sleep deprivation
- Loud snoring that can be heard outside the bedroom
- Taking 30 minutes or more to fall asleep at night
- Waking up at least once during the night or waking up earlier than you intend in the morning
- Pauses in breathing, gasping, or choking during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep
- Morning headaches
2. You Eat Big Meals Too Close to Bedtime
What time you eat supper each evening can also determine whether you get healthy sleep or have another night of poor sleep quality.
Eating large meals before bed can cause your body to prioritize digesting your dinner over helping you fall asleep. So you can lay there for hours, wide awake, wondering why you can’t sleep while your digestive system is hard at work digesting your most recent meal. Lying down on a full stomach can also cause heartburn or trigger acid reflux.
Stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bed, and avoid excessively large meals. This will give your digestive system plenty of time to digest what you’ve eaten so your body can help you get to sleep on time.
3. You Nap Too Late In The Day (Or For Too Long)
Taking a nap too late in the day can throw off your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is like an internal clock that helps your body wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. When you nap too late in the day, it essentially sets that clock further back, prompting your brain to make you fall asleep later than you intend.
Avoid napping after 1:00 PM— and limit your nap time to 30-90 minutes. A power nap will help perk you up when you can feel your eyelids sagging, but it won’t keep you up all night. A shorter nap will also prevent that dreaded sleep inertia, that way, you’ll wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like you intended.
4. You Have Poor Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene isn’t the same as your nighttime habits like washing your face or brushing your teeth. However, those habits are a part of your sleep hygiene. Essentially, sleep hygiene consists of all the sleep habits you practice before bed— good or bad.
Good sleep hygiene can help ensure that you get the restful sleep you need every night, while poor sleep hygiene can ensure that sufficient sleep is just out of reach.
You don’t have to jump through hoops to make sure that your sleep hygiene is what it should be. Here are a few easy sleep habits that can help create better sleep hygiene and better sleep.
- Avoid using electronic devices at least 60-90 minutes before bed. The blue light emitted from smartphones, computers, tablets, televisions, and even some artificial lighting can inhibit your body’s natural melatonin production and prevent you from falling asleep on time or sleeping through the night.
- Set aside time to relax and unwind each evening. Giving your body and mind an opportunity to relax before bed makes it much easier to fall asleep, and it’s good for your mental health too.
Your sleep schedule is another very important part of your overall sleep hygiene. Speaking of which…
5. You Have an Inconsistent Sleep Schedule
Your sleep schedule can make or break how well you sleep each night. A consistent sleep schedule can help ensure restful, rejuvenating sleep, while an inconsistent sleep schedule can leave you more prone to poor sleep.
Follow a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning (even on weekends).
This trains your circadian rhythm to help you wake up or fall asleep at your desired times. It may be tricky to get into the habit at first, but it’ll get much easier if you stick to it. Once you’re in the habit, your circadian rhythm will make sure that you’re ready to sleep or ready to rise exactly when you want to.
Finding Permanent Solutions to Your Poor Sleep
It can be hard to get adequate sleep— let alone high-quality sleep— if you’re constantly struggling to get any sleep. This is the unfortunate reality for more than 50 million Americans.
There are a lot of seemingly insignificant factors that can contribute to poor sleep and leave you feeling exhausted and unready for the next day. But these factors are never as insignificant as they seem.
However, even if you’re struggling to get your forty winks, there is always a way to drift off to sleep again. Sometimes all it takes are some small changes to your routine.
For the times when healthy lifestyle changes don’t help, a sleep specialist can. They can schedule an overnight sleep study to evaluate your sleep patterns and see whether or not a sleep disorder is causing your sleep problems.
If you’re concerned about poor sleep, sleep deprivation, or sleep disorders, contact us today at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee. We can help you schedule a consultation so you can start getting the restful sleep you deserve again.
1. “The State of Sleep Health in America in 2022.” SleepHealth, 27 July 2022, www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/the-state-of-sleephealth-in-america/.
2. “Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much.
3. Trotti, Lynn M. “Waking up Is the Hardest Thing I Do All Day: Sleep Inertia and Sleep Drunkenness.” Sleep Medicine Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5337178/.
4. Stutz, Jan, et al. “Effects of Evening Exercise on Sleep in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30374942/.