Sleep is an activity so closely connected to our health and wellbeing that much of our physical and mental functioning depends on it. It can be classified as a “health-related activity” much like eating, drinking, and exercising. The average person spends a third of their life sleeping. If there is a chronic lack or excess of sleep in our daily routines, the negative results become apparent almost immediately.
A lack of healthy sleep (often referred to as “sleep deprivation”) has been known to drastically increase the risk of several disorders such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. On the other hand, excessive amounts of sleep have been found to lead to mental impairment issues such as, brain fog, grogginess, and fatigue.
A common problem in the hectic pace of contemporary life is the inability to get a healthy amount of sleep regularly. Life is often fast-paced and through the exhaustive rush of work, school, and other occupations, it becomes increasingly difficult to catch up on the sleep our bodies need.
Sleep may be disrupted for any number of reasons and irregular amounts of sleep may compound night over night. Young adults typically need a greater amount of sleep, however, the need stabilizes at around 7-8 hours over the age of 19. To catch up on those lost hours of sleep, we need to understand what causes these sleep disruptions in the first place.
Waking up in the middle of the night is referred to as a sleep interruption. There may be many interruptions throughout the night that disrupt our sleep cycle and routines. These interruptions are signs of a fault somewhere in our daily routines. In the long run, they can reduce awareness of our surroundings, alertness, attention span, and memory. Several studies have shown that sleep interruptions that continue for several nights in a row can cause worse symptoms than an inadequate amount of sleep. Here are a few potential causes of interruptions:
- Irregular Sleep Schedule: If your sleep cycle is unbalanced, the body will show signs of inefficiency during your daily tasks. An unbalanced sleep cycle (also referred to as a “scattershot sleep schedule”) basically means that you are sleeping at irregular times every day and at irregular quantities. The resulting imbalance bleeds into the body’s capacity to function properly. You may feel excessively tired, sensitive to pain, and your attention span and memory function may be affected too.
- Blue Screens/Electronic Devices: The use of electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets provides an easy avenue to disrupt sleep. It is common practice to use smartphones to check messages or stream videos at night, in bed. These activities often make you lose track of time. On top of causing you to go to sleep later, blue light emitted from screens stimulates your brain and makes it difficult for the mind to calm down. This is one reason it often becomes difficult to sleep at night.
- Alcohol and Caffeine: Both alcoholic and caffeinated beverages have been shown to disrupt sleep schedules. This sleep disruption is due to the biological effects that these substances generate within our bodies.
Sleep Solutions: Fixing the Problem
Despite the challenges to getting a good night’s sleep it is possible to control your sleep schedule and to learn how to sleep better. It all starts with educating yourself before planning a routine that can work for you. Here are some ways to help you catch up on sleep and fix your sleeping schedule:
- Keep a sleep diary: It can help to track your sleep disruptions in order to identify the root cause of these disruptions. For example, if you spent the previous night tossing and turning, you can take a closer look at any circumstances or behaviors earlier in the day that may have contributed to your poor sleep. These might include eating a meal too late in the day, consuming caffeine, exercising in the evening, using electronics before bed, etc.
- Establish regular sleeping times: You must go to sleep and wake up at the same time regularly to be able to create a harmony that your body can get used to. Not only will this increase your body’s efficiency but it will also provide you with the proper amount of energy required daily.
You can also use your sleep diary to challenge yourself to go to sleep earlier. Give yourself a checkmark for each night you get to sleep before a certain time and reward yourself when you reach a certain number of check marks.
- Avoid overeating: It is important to avoid heavy meals close to your bedtime as the digestive process actively engages the body and may prevent you from physically winding down and drifting off to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol/caffeine: Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages near your bedtime as stimulation and dehydration may prevent your body and mind from winding down at night.
- Reduce the use of electronic devices: Blue lights from electronic devices are a problem near bedtime. Remember to avoid using them in bed so you don’t disrupt your body’s melatonin production – an essential hormone associated with a balanced sleep cycle.
- Establish a regular exercise routine: Try to get regular exercise and regular exposure to sunlight. These are positive habits that not only help regulate sleep behaviors, but also provide your body with healthy exertion that may make you more tired at night.
- Consult a health practitioner: If you feel that you are still having problems getting healthy amounts of sleep or if you are suffering from conditions such as sleep apnea or insomnia, consider seeking professional help.
Balancing your busy life along with your sleep schedule depends on your ability to control circumstances that interfere with sleep. It all starts with knowing the problem before attempting to craft a solution. Here at Can-i Wellness, we support your health and wellness journey. Our Can-i Sleep oral spray supplement is formulated to help you fall asleep, get back to sleep and wake up feeling amazing.