Poor Sleeping Habits? Or, Do You Have A Bigger Sleep Problem at Hand
Have you ever struggled with your sleeping habits or just falling asleep in general? Have you written this off as normal and resorted to melatonin as your only solution? These may be signs of potential sleeping disorders or poor lifestyle choices that are leading to the inability to sleep well. Luckily there are many treatments and remedies for these types of problems.
- Different types of sleep disorders and their specific symptoms can be caused by diet, stress, environment and more
- You can treat sleep disorders at home, but you should also know when to seek medical attention
- Remedy poor sleeping habits with simple lifestyle changes
This sleep disorder most commonly occurs in people over 60 years old, but can show up in younger people as well. Some symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and feeling very fatigued.
Some possible causes of insomnia include:
- Depression, anxiety, or stress
When life is hectic or you are feeling down, it can be hard for your mind to stop thinking and moving in every direction, especially at night. Stress takes a toll on the body and brain causing decreased sleep, that can eventually turn into a habit if not caught and worked on early.
- Lack of exercise
Lack of exercise can lead to depression and anxiety that greatly affects sleep habits. Exercise is known to improve your mood and decrease stress and other mental health issues by boosting the endorphin levels in your body. When you don’t get your body moving it turns into a downward spiral of feeling down, which in return negatively impacts your sleep, and as a result causes even more problems in the long run.
- Certain medications
A lot of medications and stimulants can interact with sleep patterns and throw off your circadian rhythm, especially coffee and prescription drugs such as antidepressants and allergy meds. Antidepressants and stimulants such as coffee boost serotonin levels which cause the brain to be alert and stimulated, making it harder to fall asleep.
Most of the causes for insomnia include addressing why your poor sleep habits are occurring and reversing the causes by simple lifestyle changes. Once you address the reasoning you can start by working toward reversing these causes such as exercising more, changing your medication, and healthily coping with stress and anxiety.
This sleeping disorder is one of the more serious ones that can lead to other harmful conditions. The general explanation of this disorder is that breathing during sleep suddenly stops and starts repetitively over the course of the night. This leads to constantly waking up, interrupting the deep phases of sleep and causing you to not feel well rested. Sleep apnea can be broken down into smaller specific groups based on their different symptoms.
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) really is as harsh as the name sounds!
This sleep disorder can occur when the muscles in the back of the throat start to relax, causing your airways to narrow and your breathing to slow. The narrow airways cause lowered oxygen levels in the blood stream while you sleep, which can be very dangerous in the long run. The brain then receives signals of the body’s low oxygen levels and causes you to wake up in order to reopen your airway. According to Mayo Clinic, you can wake up about 30 times through the course of your sleep due to the throat narrowing.
- Central sleep apnea
Similarly to OSA, Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) also affects breathing during sleep. Instead of the throat muscles being the issue in this form of apnea, the brain fails to transmit signals to the respiratory muscles during CSA.
This is a more dangerous form of sleep apnea because it can lead to more severe issues such as cardiovascular problems. Seek medical attention if you start to realize you are waking up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath or if you are constantly chronically fatigued.
The treatments for sleep apnea happen to be more complex than other sleep disorders. When properly diagnosed there are various types of treatments that may be suggested to you based on different circumstances. Some treatments include weight loss, quitting alcohol and drugs, mechanical airway therapy, and surgery.
Seek medical advice if experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea so that a medical professional can properly diagnose you.
This sleep disorder generally occurs in people between the ages of 10-20, however it can occur at any age. Narcolepsy is mainly characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of muscle tone, changes in REM sleep, and hallucinations. Excessive daytime sleepiness when it comes to narcolepsy certainly does not mean just your average morning tiredness, more specifically it means falling asleep at any given moment of the day even in the middle of talking to someone!!
The causes of Narcolepsy are still pretty much unknown, but doctors are beginning to think it can result from genetic factors. However, scientists claim only a one percent chance of passing it on to a child.
Taking quick power naps throughout the day and avoiding alcohol and other sedatives can help to improve symptoms of narcolepsy. Even though the causes are still unknown, narcolepsy has been shown to be improved by working on better sleep habits and making healthier conscious lifestyle decisions.
Treating poor sleep habits
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above regarding sleep disorders, you should 100% seek medical advice or attention. However, you should also take a step back and just ask yourself “Am I just a busy human?”. Yes, you could have a sleep disorder, but you could also be running yourself crazy and forming poor sleep habits that won’t go away. Luckily, you can remedy your sleep problems by making simple yet effective changes to your lifestyle. Some of these changes include but are not limited to:
Developing a sleep routine
This technique can take a lot of will-power to effectively follow through with, but proves to be one of the best ways to help fix poor sleep habits. In order to develop a sleep routine, start by setting simple tasks such as turning on screen time on your devices when it hits a certain time at night or taking a hot shower before bed. Also, try not to go on your computer or phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. You can also incorporate reading a book to make your eyes tired, or decrementing the time you get in bed by thirty minutes each week.
Limiting caffeine intake
Caffeine is a naturally “psychoactive” substance that increases the body’s energy levels throughout the day. Consuming too much caffeine during the day or too close to bedtime can seriously interrupt your sleep routine, causing you to not be able to fall asleep or sleep deeply. Caffeine interrupts sleep by blocking adenosine receptors, which is a sleep promoting chemical in your body.
If you drink a lot of caffeine try easing off of it by limiting yourself to a smaller intake everyday, or resorting to decaf coffee or tea.
Coping with stress
A calm mind makes for a more peaceful and deeper sleep. Finding ways to manage your stress levels can significantly help with your ability to improve your sleeping habits.
There are many different ways to cope with stress like meditating, exercising, breathing techniques, and natural drugs such as CBD. Research what works best for you and begin slowly implementing these techniques into your daily routine.
Poor sleeping habits and a lack of sleep in general can spiral into many dangerous outcomes. Sleep plays a huge role in both mental and physical health and can affect everyday activity. It is extremely important to recognize the causes of your sleep issues and seek medical advice if you believe you might have a sleeping disorder. Simple lifestyle changes can significantly improve sleep habits, therefore creating a happier and healthier self.
Written by Emma Carlson