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10 habits that can negatively impact your sleep

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The quality of your sleep is one of the factors that impact the quality of your life the most. Arguably more than poor diet or not exercising enough. You know how you feel after a single night of under-sleeping. Grumpy, lethargic, easily irritable, and struggling to focus. Even if your other menopausal symptoms are under control, the lack of sleep can make your life a total nightmare!

Therefore, it’s important to put a conscious effort into getting a healthy dose of sleep, 7-8 h, or 5-6 h at the very least, by tackling the habits that ruin your sleep.

1. You sleep in on weekends to catch up on sleep

Problem:

You may feel better, but your body isn’t noticing a difference on a cellular level. Adverse effects of poor sleep like decreased insulin sensitivity, which contributes to diabetes, aren’t improved with a few extra hours of sleep here and there. The more erratic your sleep patterns are, the higher your risk of heart disease is. And when you sleep in, this can disrupt your ability to fall asleep that night and reinforce an irregular sleep pattern.

Solution: 

Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time. This is one of the most important steps to set yourself up for more and better sleep, according to Andrew Huberman, PhD, a neuroscientist at Stanford University School of Medicine. Melatonin is your body’s sleep hormone. It shuts off when you wake up and turns on again at night to prepare you for sleep. A key factor that regulates the melatonin’s production cycle is your wake-up time. Melatonin production ramps up 12 to 16 hours after you awaken. 

2. You sleep where it’s too noisy, too cold, or too hot 

Problem:

When you’re trying to sleep in a place that is overstimulating your senses, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep. If the stereo is blaring, your neighbours are arguing loudly, the lights are on, and it’s boiling hot or freezing cold, how can you expect to sleep?

Solution: 

If you don’t have double glazing and live in a loud neighbourhood, get this sorted! You don’t have huge control over the thickness of your walls if you rent the place where you live, but you can get a pair of earplugs if needed. If it’s too hot, keep your window and door open so the air circulates, or get a fan or air conditioner. Get rid of the thick pyjamas and duvets in summer and spray yourself with something refreshing like Rosey Rain to feel extra fresh.

3. You look at your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night

Problem:

New research from Northwestern University found that even small amounts of light when you’re supposed to be sleeping can raise your heart rate and glucose levels, therefore making you feel more energised as opposed to sleepy.

Solution: 

Resist the temptation to reach for your phone, even to check the time. The darker your room remains, the easier it will be to fall back to sleep and the better you’ll sleep.

4. You wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep

Problem:

First, don’t reach for your phone (see #3). Second, don’t panic. The more you stress out about being awake and not getting enough sleep, the harder it will be to fall back to sleep. Instead, try to relax. Even if you don’t fall back to sleep, it’s okay. Non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) can also be rejuvenating. NSDR is a hyper-calm state induced through meditation or hypnosis.

Solution: 

When you panic because you’re wide awake at 3 am, you set off your body’s flight-or-fight response, which is not conducive to sleep. Instead, you want to get back into your body’s relaxed, resting state. To help yourself improve your chances of falling back to sleep, try yoga Nidra, a form of meditation to bring on deep rest. Even if you don’t fall back to sleep, you’ll still be getting some quality rest.

5. You use your bedroom as a multipurpose room

Problem:

If you work from your room, watch TV in there, do home workouts and eat dinner, you might be tempted to engage in activities that stimulate your mind too much. You won’t be associating your bedroom with a place to rest and rejuvenate.

Solution: 

If you can’t or don’t want to remove all computers, telephones, and other gadgets from your bedroom, then at least, turn off all screens 30-60 min before bedtime and let your mind slow down naturally.

6. You have a glass of wine to help you fall sleep

Problem:

You may feel like it’s helping, but alcohol-induced sleep isn’t the best quality. While you may fall asleep faster, alcohol decreases deep sleep and causes you to wake up more throughout the night. It may also contribute to nightmares and snoring, which increases your risk for sleep apnoea.

Solution: 

Try a cup of chamomile tea instead. It has been found in studies to improve sleep. If you really feel like drinking alcohol, then do it several (3-4) hours before bedtime.

7. You drink coffee or black tea or smoke a cigarette before bed

Problem:

Caffeinated beverages can keep you awake for hours. Caffeine should be avoided in the 4-6 hours before bed. Likewise, the nicotine from a cigarette will ruin your ability to sleep.

Solution: 

Ideally, you wouldn’t be smoking cigarettes at all, but if you can’t/don’t want to give them up, smoke during the day and not in the evening. If you like the taste of coffee, then at least go for decaf in the late afternoon and choose caffeine-free fruity or herbal teas.

8. You get up to pee throughout the night and struggle to fall asleep quickly

Problem:

Frequent night-time bathroom visits are a classic sign of an overactive bladder. While it’s great that you’re falling back to sleep, every trip to the bathroom disrupts restful sleep. The fewer bathroom breaks at night, the better.

Solution:

Make sure that you’re well-hydrated during the day. This will prevent bladder irritation that can send you to the bathroom more frequently. And cut back on other bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, citrus, tomatoes and tomato-based foods, and spicy foods.

9. You snooze your alarm three to four times before getting up

Problem:

This is a sign that you need more sleep. 15-30 minutes of fragmented sleep isn’t going to help much. These short bouts of snoozing aren’t restorative and can make you feel more stressed in the morning.

Solution: 

Get a better night’s sleep by going to bed earlier or improving the quality of your sleep. Or, set your alarm later to enhance the quality of those extra minutes, and then get out of bed when it goes off.

10. You snore

Problem:

Factors like alcohol, weight gain, an uncomfortable sleeping position or uncontrollable allergies can contribute to snoring. Declines in oestrogen during perimenopause and menopause make women more prone to snoring.

Solution: 

If addressing these factors doesn’t help, talk to your doctor. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea, a breathing disorder that increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes.

Now that you know how your habits might be affecting your sleep—and your health—take action! Even small changes can improve your sleep. The result: you’ll have more energy, you’ll be more productive, you’ll be better able to concentrate, react more quickly, manage your emotions better, and improve your overall health. You may even notice an improvement in some menopausal symptoms, such as anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and forgetfulness.

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Meg's Quote

If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu –

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