Weekly Wellness: Help! I can't sleep!
COLUMBIA - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again and again). Sleep is incredibly important. It’s vital for your health, keeps you from gaining weight, helps you be more productive at your job, and helps your body heal.
With that said, sometimes we just can’t fall asleep. And it can be SO aggravating. Most people can fall asleep within 10 to 15 minutes of hitting the pillow. But if you’re still not asleep after 30 minutes (or longer), this list of possible culprits might be to blame:
Consuming caffeine. Having caffeine later in the day can affect your sleep. The cutoff time for coffee is 2 p.m. Caffeine can affect you for six, seven, eight, maybe even more than 10 hours.
Drinking alcohol. Alcohol can affect REM sleep and can cause you to wake up throughout the night. It is recommended to stop drinking alcohol within two to three hours before bedtime.
Using electronics. There is research that suggests that blue light sources (like from your phone, tablet, or laptop) can suppress the body’s production of melatonin. (Melatonin is a hormone that controls your body clock, and those levels typically increase as it gets darker in the evening.) So try to cut out your electronics as the night wears on so that your body can get that melatonin cranking.
Watching TV. The amount of blue light your television emits depends on the type, but no matter what, the light is bright (and, remember, bright light can impact your melatonin levels). Turn off your television an hour before you go to bed.
Exercising. In one study of more than 2,600 adults, those who did at least 2.5 hours of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week saw a 65% improvement in sleep quality. They also said they felt more alert during the day. But it depends on WHEN the exercise occurs. A study in the journal Sleep looked at how the time of day women sweated impacted their sleep. Those who exercised in the morning had less trouble falling asleep. If you’ve been working out in the evening and you’ve been struggling to fall asleep, see if you can change your workout time and give yourself a three hour buffer between workout and bedtime.
Eating spicy foods. Avoid spicy foods and anything else that might upset your stomach close to bedtime. Some experts suggest that you shouldn’t eat within three hours of bedtime, but others suggest that a light snack is just fine. Everyone is different so maybe paying attention to WHAT you’re eating vs. WHEN you’re eating it might help.
Turning up the heat. Keeping the house cooler is better for your sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation says 60–67°F is the ideal sleeping temperature zone.
Working. In a 2014 study, people who worked on their phones at night were less productive once they were in the office the following day. And all that late-night work can create burnout.
Hopefully some of these suggestions will help and you’ll be sawing logs again soon.