If you lay awake tossing and turning half the night, you’re not alone. There are more than 70 recognized sleep disorders that affect 40 million adults in the US each year — 20 million more people have occasional issues with sleep. It’s not just the 18-plus crowd either. Children are not immune to sleep issues, and this lack of slumber has dire consequences.
Dr. Daniel S. Lewin, a pediatric psychologist and sleep specialist, explains, “Lack of sleep on a short term basis can cause over-activity, inattention, irritability and increased risk of injury.” Long-term sleeplessness can trigger depression, poor performance at work or school, and other health issues, including obesity. Poor sleep can take a toll on your energy levels and can leave you less able to resist sweet treats and other unhealthy snacks.
Many sleep issues require the assistance of a healthcare professional, and insomnia may be a side effect of another, potentially more serious, condition. However, everyone can benefit from preparing the mind and body for rest. This starts with changing up your bedroom.
No two people are alike, and even married couples often have different ways of falling and staying asleep. A few issues that might keep your eyes open include:
- A loud bedroom isn’t a restful bedroom. If you have noisy neighbors, consider using earplugs. Soft music or white noise can also drown out exterior racket.
- Bedroom color. There have been several studies on the psychology of color. It is widely accepted that blue hues are calming and relaxing. Angie’s List design expert and contributor Oseye Boyd asserts that bright colors aren’t conducive to a healthy sleep environment for adults and children.
- You’ve no doubt heard in recent years that the blue light coming off your device screen can keep you awake. But more than just avoiding the beams from your electronics, you should make a point to expose yourself to sunlight every day to promote and maintain a healthy sleep/wake cycle.
- Mattress comfort. This may be a no-brainer, but many people simply overlook their comfort at night. Your mattress should be suited to your particular sleep style and should not be a surface that you just begrudgingly fall upon when exhaustion sets in.
What you do during the day also has an effect on the ability to sleep at night. Obviously, drinking coffee right before bed is a bad idea. However, even something that makes you drowsy, such as a nightcap of red wine, can disrupt your ability to remain asleep. Similarly, eating too much before you go to bed can have your body working in overdrive, making it more difficult to get comfortable enough to doze off. Your physical activity plays a role too, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Moderate aerobic exercise can encourage deep wave sleep, although it is typically recommended that you avoid cardiovascular activities just before bed since the brain needs time to regulate your endorphin levels.
Stress Equals No Rest
Not sleeping can stress you out, and that stress can keep you from falling asleep. When you have a stressful career, money problems, or relationship woes, sleep may feel like a pipe dream. Cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, meditation, and guided imagery can help. Keep in mind, too, that exercise and a balanced life can also lower your stress levels.
If you’re constantly grumpy, reaching for coffee, or overindulging in unhealthy vices due to sleep deprivation, talk to your doctor. Rule out underlying medical conditions and then take measures to change your sleep environment. Something simple as a coat of paint and noise machine can often help you drift off to dreamland and reduce the negative effects of long-term sleeplessness.
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