We’ve all been there. Tossing and turning, watching the minutes tick by on the clock, but we still can’t fall asleep. Here are some reasons that sleep may be alluding you.
1. You wind down by checking your phone
Whether you’re checking email or social media on your smart phone, or even indulging a guilty pleasure with a few levels of Candy Crush, you may feel these mindless tasks are relaxing you for the night. Truth is, the blue-light emitted from your mobile device is throwing your circadian rhythm out of whack. Not only does it make it more difficult to fall asleep, the sleep you do get throughout the night is not restful or restorative. If you absolutely can’t fall asleep without checking your phone, make sure that the screen brightness is turned down. If you have an iPhone, try out the Night Shift Setting.
2. Too many or too thick of a blanket
Your body goes into a cool down process when you climb into bed for numerous physiological reasons. So, while it’s tempting to cuddle up in warm pajamas or to layer on the blankets, especially in the winter months, you are making it more difficult for your body to achieve the optimum sleeping temperature. Studies show that 66 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum room temperature for a good night’s sleep. Another way besides ditching the extra layers to achieve a cooler temperature is to use a cool-to-the-touch pillow, mattress protector, or mattress.
I know, I know. I’m taking all the fun out of it now. And you may be thinking “But I fall asleep faster after having a drink or two.” The sleep achieved after alcohol consumption is really sedation, and is not the same thing as restorative sleep. One interesting study even showed that alcohol changes sleep patterns in the same way that receiving small electric shocks all night long would. Once your body has metabolized the alcohol, your sleep should not be affected. On average, it takes one hour for the body to metabolize an ounce of alcohol, or about a shot, so time your drink and bedtime accordingly.
4. Too many pillows
Throw pillows are a great aesthetic but sleeping on more than one pillow every night is not ideal for sleep. Your pillow should help you achieve a neutral spine position, meaning your neck should be straight while laying on your pillow. Besides neck alignment issues, too many pillows can also restrict your airway, so your body will not be able to fully relax.
5. Watching the clock
Doing the math of how much sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep right now is not helpful for a couple of reasons. One, you’re putting pressure on yourself to achieve a task you have no control over; no one can control the exact time they fall asleep. Two, you’re not allowing your mind to rest by making it to math when it shouldn’t be thinking at all. Focus on resting instead of the actual act of falling asleep. By shifting your focus, you’ll drift off to dreamland faster than demanding something from your body it can’t do.
What other things have you found to be counter-intuitive to sleep?