There are many reasons you aren’t sleeping well, and you aren’t alone. Between 20% and 30% of children and adults have trouble staying asleep through the night, with many things that can cause this, not least not being in your own bed when you travel.
Some are what you might expect, and these can be worked on. Yet, there are also some serious issues that require medical and professional guidance. Working with your healthcare providers is a great first step.
So how do you do that? First, you need to speak to your doctor, as this article is not medical advice. Doctors generally have extensive knowledge of sleep issues and how to help combat some of them. They can also diagnose sleep disorders and refer you for further treatment.
However, some are simple. From issues like sleep apnea to the really annoying restless leg syndrome, here are some of the most common sleep problems you might be facing right now.
Stress Can Impact Your Sleep
Stress is a silent killer and causes all kinds of problems in our lives. Problems at home, trouble at work, and everyday anxiety are all symptoms of stress and can really disrupt your life. The good news is that stress issues can be worked through, and you can learn how to get rid of bad anxiety at night from too much stress.
If you do have too much stress and you find it severely disrupts your life to the point of insomnia, expert care from counselors and doctors can help.
Health professionals can help you with stress and what comes with it. It isn’t easy, and you need to be proactive. This includes recognizing the root causes and making changes to your life. For sleeping, you need to actively go out of your way to be calm before bed.
Relaxation methods like breathing techniques, meditation, and disconnecting from the outside world (no phone, work stuff, or social media) will help you unwind before bed when you need your restful night’s sleep.
You Aren’t Sleeping Well from Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a very serious condition and can be fatal. This is because you effectively stop breathing when sleeping. This can send a signal to your brain that something is wrong, and you either wake up or have your sleep pattern interrupted.
When this happens, you don’t get the proper rest you need and wake up feeling terrible. And you shouldn’t be embarrassed about this either. The awful stereotype of the overweight person snoring all night is wrong and inaccurate.
You can have sleep apnea because you are overweight. But it also happens if you have a narrow jaw or a certain muscle tone. Men and women all over the world of varying shapes, sizes, and ages have to endure sleep apnea. In the United States alone, this condition affects around 20 million people.
But it needs to be taken seriously because it can be very damaging to your physical and mental health as it blocks the oxygen you need from reaching your lungs.
Not Exercising Enough
You have probably heard this a thousand times that you need to exercise for better sleep. You might find exercise hard, but if you do it for one reason, do it for better sleep. It really does help, not least because exercise will tire you out and encourage a sleep state. But sleep and exercise also complement each other.
You will get tired from it and want to sleep, and a good night’s rest makes it easier to exercise. It’s a win-win situation that has immense positive benefits for you.
Of course, it is hard to begin exercise if you aren’t used to it, and some people have trouble deciding when to even start. It is recommended that you begin with a high-energy aerobic routine in the morning because this can actually stimulate your brain if you do it at night.
However, for bedtime exercise, low-intensity training helps, such as yoga and stretching. It can also help to get some fresh air and wind down with a gentle walk through a local park area.
Changing Your Diet for Sleep
Along with having to exercise, you will definitely hear people say that you need to change your diet for a good night’s sleep. And this is actually more important than exercise. You see, what you eat and drink, when and how, has a massive impact on your body and brain.
Fortunately, there are a few simple rules you can follow to help get a better night’s sleep when it comes to your diet. And you don’t even have to make massive changes when you travel for great food:
- Make sure you eat three meals per day and never skip your breakfast.
- Stay away from common stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and smoking.
- Eat the right amount of calories you need per day, between 1,500 and 2,500.
- Try not to eat at least two hours before you are due to get ready for bed and sleep.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with the fiber your digestive system needs to work well.
- Eat healthy snacks before bed to stave off the bouts of hunger until the next morning.
- Try melatonin-inducing drinks such as tart cherry juice to help you drift off to sleep.
You don’t need to make huge changes to your diet for better sleep. However, you do need to make adjustments to your eating habits because these can have a negative impact on sleep. Eating the meals you need throughout the day will help sustain your body and nourishment through the night.
Eating too close to bedtime, however, will cause stimulation and digestion issues. Yet you can help your melatonin production with food and drinks like tart cherry juice.
Chronic Pain and Conditions
Of course, any kind of chronic pain or condition will keep you up at night. From the pain of arthritis to epileptic seizures, these can make your sleep and travel a waking nightmare. Painful conditions are one of the most complained about issues when it comes to sleep, and between 50% and 80% of people with chronic conditions don’t sleep well. Often to the point of an insomnia diagnosis. Studies have also shown that a lack of sleep makes the pain worse.
Lack of sleep from chronic pain and chronic pain from lack of sleep is a terrible cycle that no one should endure. In any case, always seek guidance from medical professionals and stick to what they tell you. Pain management and management of issues like seizures by taking prescribed medication is often all you can do.
However, there are some alternatives if you are concerned about opioids, such as meditation, anti-inflammatory foods, and hot and cold therapy.
Restless Legs Mean You Aren’t Sleeping Well
One of the most annoying sleep issues is restless leg syndrome. RLS is a painless condition that feels like dull aches in your legs. It mainly affects women but does affect men as well, and it can happen at any time. What usually happens is that your legs move uncontrollably when you are sleeping, and it wakes you up.
When it happens a lot, it can affect your sleep severely. There are links to depression and heart disease, but jet lag from travel can also cause it.
We may not know the exact cause of RLS, but there are some documented things you can try to reduce it. First, cutting down on excessive fatty foods, alcohol, and smoking has been shown to reduce the issue. But some people also find relief from taking a relaxing bath and massaging their legs before bed.
However, if nothing else works, there are some effective medications your GP can prescribe, such as gabapentin enacarbil, rotigotine, pramipexole, and ropinirole.
Going Through Depression
Finally, but by no means least, depression can have a severe impact on sleep. Not getting enough sleep just makes depression worse, too. When we are depressed, the brain can become overactive, and it prevents us from falling asleep. You can focus on things that are bad or obsess over the small things.
As a result, you can also stop producing serotonin, which allows cortisol to take over and increase any depressive, anxious, and stressful feelings.
There are antidepressants made specifically to combat sleep-induced depression. However, some depression medications like SSRIs can prevent you from sleeping well, too, just adding to the issue. If depression is getting in the way of your sleep, seek help from your doctor and explain that you can’t sleep.
They can offer guidance for therapy that can help with sleep and adjust and change medication. This is especially important if you think medication is the issue.
Common issues like stress can keep you from the sleep you need, which means you aren’t sleeping well through no fault of your own. There are some easy things you can do to help the situation, such as doing light exercises and some small diet habit changes.
Of course, chronic pain and issues can also keep you up at night and stop you from getting the sleep you need. Management of these issues is essential, as is making changes to reduce your depression.