Do you know, off the top of your head, how many people struggle with sleep problems each and every night? In the United States alone, it’s over 60 million people. That’s million, with an m. Are you one of those people? Are you in this 20% of the population who struggles to get good sleep each night? Hopefully knowing you’re not alone it’s a bit of a consolation. But the next step is to figure out what to do about it.
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. The next step is to figure out what is causing the problem. Most people rush to their doctor or the drugstore in order to find some sort of magic pill which will cure their sleep problems for them. Unfortunately, this is more of a band-aid over a bullet hole – and could make your sleep problems worse over time! Before you resort to a pharmaceutical solution, sit yourself down and try to figure out why you’re having such a hard time sleeping. There may be a practical, easy, affordable solution right at your fingertips.
Problem #7: Your Sleeping Environment Is Too Warm
Your circadian rhythm is largely responsible for making you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. We’ve talked before about how certain types of light exposure can influence this. But we haven’t talked too much about temperature. You feel awake in the morning both because of bright sunlight and because the temperature rises with the sun. Conversely, after the sun goes down, the temperature drops. Feeling cooler in the evening helps contribute to the natural drowsiness you experience as part of a healthy day-night cycle.
Unfortunately, not all of us are rich enough to follow proper sleep hygiene etiquette and set our thermostat to 68° every night. It costs money to cool your home that much. Alternatively, you can try:
- Using fans to cool down your bedroom – just make sure they are of a lower wattage than that of your AC unit so that you know you’re saving money
- Take a hot bath or shower before bed – this bumps up your body temperature in the short-term but cools you down shortly thereafter, prepping your body for breast
- Sleep naked!
Problem #6: You Need an Afternoon Nap (but You Aren’t Getting It)
The more that scientists look into the human sleep cycle, the more they begin to realize the health benefits of naps – regardless of age. We understand how an afternoon nap may sound antithetical to the conventional advice of “stay awake until your body is dying for sleep”. But there are plenty of studies which show that a power nap between 30 and 60 minutes in the afternoon – especially if it coincides with your post-lunch crash – is it a great way to pep yourself back up and tackle the rest of your day.
Problem #5: Your Sex Life Is Lackluster
If you’re having trouble getting quality rest, sleep experts agree that you should reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only. But if you’re having trouble with one, you may start to have trouble with the other. Not getting enough sex, not being satisfied in the bedroom, or not getting any sex at all can leave you restless at night. If you have a significant other, you should open up a dialogue about spicing things up between the sheets. If you’re single, you can either try to find a partner or purchase some intimate toys that’ll help you spend more quality time with yourself.
Problem #4: You’re Drastically Underestimating Your Caffeine Consumption
Lots of people overestimate the amount of caffeine they consume in a day as well as their tolerance to it. One of the easiest things you can do – and one of the first things you should do – if you experience sleep problems is to take a careful inventory of your caffeine consumption. You should limit your intake to about 1 to 2 cups in the morning. You should also stop drinking any and all caffeinated beverages after 12:00 PM. Otherwise, you could end up tossing and turning all night.
Problem #3: You Don’t Have the Right Exercise Routine
If you aren’t getting enough exercise or the right kind of exercise, you could be causing yourself sleep problems at night. It’s common sense if you think about it. Why do you think children sleep like, well, babies? Because they’re constantly running around and being active all day long. Try increasing your activity level, even if all you’re doing is taking a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood after dinner. It should make a significant difference in your sleep.
Problem #2: Anxiety!
We were going to put this as our number one problem, but then we discovered a problem which is much more common and potentially much more serious (more on that in a minute, though). Sometimes, it can be as simple as one bad day at work, one miserable parent-teacher conference, or an overwhelming to-do list that you barely make a dent in by the time your bedtime rolls around. It could also be something as serious as chronic anxiety or depressive mood disorder. Either way, your anxieties can follow you to bed and haunt you awake at night.
When it comes to mild occurrences of everyday anxiety, simple things like meditation or a hot bath before bed (like we mentioned earlier) can help relax you enough to get ready for rest. If it happens very frequently and very intensely, you may want to talk with a therapist or with your doctor about more effective solutions. You should never be afraid to ask for help if your emotional struggles are having a severely negative impact on your physical health.
Unfortunately, for some people, their doctors may reach for the quickest, easiest solution and write them a prescription for an anxiety medication or a prescription sleep aid. But this isn’t always the best thing to do, because…
Problem #1: You’re Using the Wrong Sleep Aid
Prescription sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication can cause long-term brain damage which makes it difficult to get healthy rest. Even over-the-counter prescriptions can cause harm to your nervous system. But natural herbal sleep aids like Avinol PM have exactly what you need to feel relaxed and sleepy when you need to. It’s gentle and safe, yet more effective than most other options. And it’s healthier for you in the long run, too.