It’s no secret that good sleep is essential. Without it, we struggle to work our best, communicate well, and live the most fulfilled life possible. However, studies show that sleep is the first thing people are willing to sacrifice when they need more time for other activities, and sleep deprivation is a chronic problem among Americans of all ages.
But what about less obvious factors that impact our sleep quality?
It’s one thing to stay up late on purpose to finish a project or prepare for a work meeting, but what about those nights when you want to sleep and just can’t? A lot of people know that their daily activities impact their sleep cycle, but they may not identify the many small factors that influence the amount of rest they get.
This guide will discuss 17 common lifestyle factors that impact our sleep, including activities many of us participate in every day.
1. Room Temperature is Too High
If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a room that’s too hot or too cold, you’re well aware that room temperature can have a major impact on a person’s quality of sleep. Near the end of the day, your core body temperature will begin to drop, signaling the brain that it’s time to go to bed. If you’re sleeping in a room that’s too warm, your body temperature can’t decrease enough to signal this transition, therefore disturbing your rest.
2. Room Temperature is Too Low
Alternatively, rooms that are too cold can also impact a person’s sleep cycle. If a person’s room temperature is too cold, they may wake up in the middle of the night feeling uncomfortable. Although professionals recommend that most people sleep with their room a little cooler than usual when it’s time to go to bed, there’s no need to make your bedroom an ice box. For many people, the perfect room temperature for quality sleep lies a few degrees below what they find comfortable during the day.
3. The Mattress is Too Soft
A plush mattress sounds great, but for some people, it isn’t the right option if they want high-quality sleep. Mattresses without enough support can be especially challenging for those who sleep on their back, causing pain throughout the day and poor sleep during the night.Not to mention, many people experience discomfort in beds that are too soft as their body sinks during their sleep.
A mattress may be firm enough when a person purchases it and become softer over time. To avoid sleep disturbances from a changing mattress, you should check your bedding regularly. Experts typically advise people to change their mattress once every ten years, if not more frequently.
4. The Mattress is Too Firm
Just as a mattress can be too soft and cause sleep disturbances, one can be too firm. If you’ve ever slept on a mattress that’s too hard, you may understand why they can substantially impact a person’s sleep. Sleeping on a mattress that’s too hard puts pressure on the body’s sacrum.
When this happens, especially over time, it can give rise to body aches and pains that won’t go away until the person’s sleeping environment changes. During a person’s sleep, a mattress that’s too firm can be very uncomfortable and lead to insomnia or broken sleep cycles. As mentioned above, it’s essential to check your bedding regularly and change as needed.
You probably know that smoking is correlated with higher rates of cancer and lung disease, but did you know it can impact your sleep as well? Nicotine, the addictive substance found in cigarettes and tobacco, is a stimulant drug. Similarly to how drinking a cup of coffee before bed can disturb your sleep, smoking any form of tobacco before bedtime can have a significant impact on your quality of rest.
The nicotine in tobacco encourages higher resting heart beats, higher blood pressure, and a release of norepinephrine in the brain, all of which create to a lesser quality of sleep for the person then if they hadn’t consumed the substance. In fact, the American College of Chest Physicians conducted a study in 2008 that found cigarette smokers are four times as likely as non-smokers to feel unrested after an otherwise full night’s sleep.
If you’re experiencing sleep problems and you smoke cigarettes, quitting may be the first step toward getting a good night’s rest.
6. Cell Phones and Other Technology
It seems like cellphones are to blame for many problems in modern society, but when it comes to our sleep, they may cause significant disturbances. If you’re looking at your cell phone in bed before you’re going to sleep, you may be disrupting your body’s natural Circadian rhythm. The Circadian rhythm promotes hormone production that promotes sleep or alertness, depending on the time of day and the amount of light present.
Smartphones and similar devices produce something called ”Bluelight” that encourages alertness in our brains. It disrupts our circadian rhythms, making our minds believe it’s daytime even during the night. Bluelight also stimulates brain activity, which can significantly hinder our quality of sleep.
In 2011, BMC Public published a study stating that sleep disorders, along with the symptoms of depression, were strongly correlated with high mobile phone usage. In the study, participants ages 20 to 24 years old were studied over one year, showing a strong association between poor sleep quality and mobile phone usage before bed.
By avoiding smartphone usage before bed, a person can significantly improve their ability to fall asleep and experience higher-quality rest throughout the night.
7. Showering with Cold Water Before Bed
Struggling to fall asleep? It might be because you’re showering or washing your face with cold water before bed. That’s right: cold water stimulates the body, causing your brain to release energy hormones that keep you warm. In turn, the rush of energy wakes you up.
This is a common reason why people wash their face with cold water or take cold showers in the morning to prepare for their day. At night, consider using lukewarm water as part of your bedtime routine. You may notice an immediate difference in your energy levels and your ability to fall asleep.
8. Drinking Coffee Late at Night
We talked about how smoking can keep you up at night because nicotine is a stimulant drug, and the same principle applies to caffeine. Drinking coffee in the evening can seem like a great way to wake yourself up and tackle some last-minute tasks, but it can significantly impact your quality of sleep. Even after the initial caffeine-rush passes, the substance creates additional energy in the body that can keep you awake when you’re trying to go to bed.
In 2013, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed or less is strongly correlated with disturbed sleep. The study strongly suggests that caffeine users avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages for at least six hours before bedtime. Ideally, you should consume your caffeine as early in the day as possible to avoid stimulant-based sleep disturbances at night.
9. Sleeping With Your Pets
If you have a cat or a dog, you might enjoy sharing your bed with them during the night. However, this can lead to significant sleep disturbances according to a 2002 study by the Mayo Clinic. According to the study, during which researchers surveyed 300 patients, they found that 53% of pet owners reported disrupted sleep every night.
Although animals like cats and dogs have shown many psychological and physical health benefits, there are no studies to suggest they improve our sleep quality if they are present in our bedrooms. If you’re struggling with disturbed sleep, consider sleeping a room without your pets.
10.Working the Night Shift
Working the night shift can have a major impact on your sleep quality. Our brains want us to be awake during the day and asleep at night, so fighting this natural cycle can lead to lower levels of serotonin in the brain and disturbed sleep cycles.
Additionally, many third shift workers find it challenging to get the sleep they need during the day. Between family obligations, going places while they’re open, and other distractions that demand attention, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the sleep you need during the day if you’re working during the night.
11. Feeling Isolated
Loneliness and isolation can make you feel sleepy all the time, but it can harm your quality of sleep. According to a study published in 2017 by Psychological Medicine, lonely people are 24% more likely to feel tired and have difficulty maintaining focus throughout the day.
The researchers suggest this may be because people who self-identify as isolated or lonely are also at a higher risk of depression. Being social, participating in hobbies, and treating clinical depression are always individuals can improve their sleep if they’re feeling isolated or lonely.
12. Using peppermint flavored toothpaste
Peppermint flavored toothpaste is extremely common in America, but did you know using it can affect your sleep? That’s right: in 2005, the International Journal of Psychophysiology suggested that the scent of peppermint stimulates energy production in the brain, inadvertently making the user feel more awake.
Although mint toothpaste is the most common flavor, there are other options available including cinnamon or bubble gum. Choosing a non-stimulating flavor of toothpaste is one small way people can improve their sleep without making a significant life change.
13. Sleeping Environment
The environment you sleep in also impacts your sleep quality. If you’re sleeping in a place where you don’t feel comfortable, it’ll be harder to relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep throughout the night. Many factors can impact your sleeping environment. The colors on the walls, cleanliness, and the size of the room can all improve your sleep or cause sleep disturbances.
For example, rooms with particularly vibrant colors or a broad spectrum of colors may negatively impact a person’s sleep quality. The shades may be too visually stimulating, causing insomnia as a person struggles to relax and fall asleep in the room. When choosing a color palette for a room, Justin Poile from VisionBedding recommends picking one dominant color and using several shades of that. This gives the room a cohesive look and helps any accent colors stand out.
It’s also essential to keep your room tidy and clean, so you aren’t distracted by disorganized belongings as you’re trying to fall asleep.
14. Eating Too Little
If you’ve ever gone to bed without eating dinner, you may understand how a restricted diet can impact your sleep quality. Some people try restricted calorie diets to lose weight, but they can have a devastating impact on a person sleep if they aren’t used properly. Consuming too fewer calories throughout the day can make the Mind seal to alert before bed as the person’s body looks for energy it doesn’t have.
Make sure you’re eating a healthy amount of food before during in for the day to encourage more restful sleep. If you’re hungry when you go to bed, your mind may not be able to relax, and you may experience insomnia until you satiate your appetite.
Alternatively, some studies show that sleep-deprived individuals eat more calories during the day than those who get healthy, quality rest. If a person is sleep-deprived, they may experience fluctuations in their daily appetite hormones which can lead to reduced appetite regulation. In these cases, a person may produce higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. This creates a cycle wherein a person eats more during the day and sleeps less at night.
Ideally, you should eat a moderate, healthy amount of calories during the day to promote healthy sleep at night. Too little and you may experience insomnia; too much, and you may experience disturbed sleep cycles.
16. Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
Think about the last time you exercised hard. You probably felt tired afterward, regardless of the activity.
Exercise helps our bodies regulate our energy stores. When we don’t exercise enough, it’s harder for our brains and bodies to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. Getting a healthy amount of exercise during the day is one guaranteed way to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
17. Sleeping With the TV On
It’s common for people to sleep with the TV on, especially if they sleep alone, but it can have a major impact on a person’s sleep cycle. The noise from a TV, radio, or MP3 player can make it harder to fall asleep and disrupt the mind as it’s trying to rest. To achieve the highest quality of sleep, it’s best to keep the bedroom quiet and distraction-free for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of the human experience, but many lifestyle factors can impact a good night’s rest. By paying attention to the factors that are impacting your sleep cycles and changing those that are causing disturbances, you can improve your nightly rest and feel better during the morning and throughout the day.