Totally true story. I went through a horrible stretch a few years ago where I was beyond exhausted. I was not sleeping and felt groggy all day. But despite being exhausted, I would lie awake all night tossing and turning. So I totally get that you can be exhausted and still not be sleeping.
During the worst of that stretch, I averaged under 20 hours of sleep A WEEK. Let me tell you, that’s way too little sleep. If you relate, then today’s post is totally for you. Because we’re going to examine parts of your lifestyle you might be unaware are screwing with your sleep.
Eating too close to bedtime
Life can be busy. And sometimes the evening races by. And you’re eating dinner right before it’s time for sleep. This can screw with your sleeping for a few reasons.
First, your body’s natural digestion process can keep you awake. Not to mention the potential for indigestion. Plus, it’s hard to relax when you’re uncomfortable and full. Plus, if you eat a lot of carbohydrates, you can have a blood sugar dip while sleeping which can cause you to wake early.
Drinking “hidden” caffeine
So you probably get that you shouldn’t drink a Venti latte right before bedtime. But don’t forget that coffee isn’t the only caffeine source. You might have other things in your nighttime routine keeping you up.
Most non-herbal teas contain caffeine. Even really healthy sounding ones like yerba mate, chai, and green tea. And definitely don’t forget about chocolate. Oh, and for sure energy drinks. Even decaf coffee contains some caffeine.
Keeping your home too bright
Back before we had electricity, the sun would set, and the darkness would signal that it was time for sleep. Now not only do we have electricity keeping things light past sunset. We have laptops, smartphones, kindles, and all other sorts of bright electronics.
This artificial light sends super confusing signals to your brain. Your brain is dependent on darkness to create melatonin, the sleep hormone. You could be exhausted and still not sleeping because the artificial brightness is telling your brain it’s day, even when it’s clearly not. Dim the lights and electronics to get your brain ready for sleep, well before you actually close your eyes.
A lot of people will have a drink to two at night to help them relax. This routine helps them let the day go. And then they fall easily to sleep.
However, this might not lead to the best quality sleep. While alcohol initially relaxes you, it doesn’t keep you relaxed. In fact, it can lead to delayed sleep difficulties. Meaning you’ll easily fall asleep, but you’ll wake up before morning and be unable to settle down again. And this can leave you plain exhausted.
Eating too much sugar
So you know that caffeine keeps you up. But did you know that sugar can leave you wired as well? And the sugar you eat in the later afternoon and early evening is most damaging.
Keep in mind that sweets aren’t the only place you’ll find sugar in your diet. You’ll find it in sauces, salad dressings, bread, granola, some chips, canned soups, prepared dinners, and many other places. Start acting like a spy and weed out the sugar from your diet. And you might just find yourself sleeping like a baby.
Heating up the bedroom
No, I’m not talking about romance, silly. Keep doing that. I’m talking about what you do with your thermostat. Because a warm room can lead to a sleepless room.
So don’t crank of the heat too high in winter. Instead, sleep under blankets that you can remove as you sleep. And if you don’t have air conditioning in summer, get as many fans and crack as many windows as possible.
You’re taking the wrong supplements
Vitamins and essential oils can be good for you. But if you use supplements, be aware that some of them can mess with your sleep. For example, vitamins B6 and B12 are very energizing and should only be taken in the morning. Vitamin C is pretty stimulating as well. And peppermint essential oil can leave you completely wired.
On the flip side, there are supplements that are great for the evening. Magnesium can totally help you wind down. And lavender essential oil is phenomenal for relaxing. Just make sure to be aware of the type of supplement you’re taking before bed.
So if you’re exhausted and not sleeping, these are some sneaky things that might be to blame. Small adjustments can lead to big lifestyle changes. So don’t be afraid to give something new a try.
Melissa Blevins says
Can I add that over-stimulation from tv, computer, phone, tablet is likely a major culprit?! I sometimes stay up working until 1:00am and can’t shut my brain off! Great post!
Very well written. We keep our bedroom pretty cool and it definitely helps us sleep better! Great advice.
omg i’m guilty of ALL of these factors! Eating too close to bed time is something that has been affecting me and i’m trying to change it. Something i’ve found helpful is to burn some sage before bed and turning on pandora spa channel!
Esse D says
The next time I’m having a night of insomnia, I’ll try turning down the thermostat. I’ve been doing better lately, but just in case, I’ll keep all these points in mind.
Mike Morgan says
Great tips, I love diffusing lavender oil before I go to sleep. Also, i’ve definitely experienced bad sleep quality with alcohol as well, I also noticed I feel so much better when I wake up if I didn’t drink the night before, even if it was only one drink.
I continue to try to cut out screen time an hour before bed. It’s a constant struggle. I’m also thinking about ordering light blocking panels to attach to the back of my bedroom curtains to keep it darker. I already throw a hand towel over my modem and have post-it notes stuck over the buttons on the fan.
RoseMary Griffith says
Then there are those people who can drink caffeine and go to sleep! I’m sure not one of them. The only supplement I take in the evening is calcium w/D, having learned about the B vitamins the hard way. 🙂
I just re-read your other post about Magnesium, so I think I will give that a whirl. The Kindle HD Fire has a night mode–Blue Shade–that I think helps with that dimming of the lights.
When it comes to late-night screen exposure, I find that what I’m doing makes a big difference, e.g., reading the news will rile me up and definitely make it more difficult to fall asleep, but if I’m listening to music at YouTube then the effect is minimal.
The news can really be so unnerving – especially late at night.
I don’t do any of these except having my phone on at night and have brightness in my room if I turn it off I can’t fall asleep at all right now it is 1:33 am when I seen this and I try some of this to see if it helps thankyou.
Leah, I hope you get some sleep!