Almost half the population has trouble sleeping. This means that half the population get by six hours sleep or less, including many who struggle with toxic or restless sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping this article will offer some help…
What causes trouble sleeping?
Sleeping troubles are often referred to as “insomnia”. Insomnia is defined as the inability to get to sleep or sleep well at night.
Typical causes of insomnia include:
- Health conditions including: asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer and chronic pain
- Jet lag
- The amount of caffeine consumed
- Lack of the right vitamins and minerals
- Mood disorders including depression or anxiety
How trouble sleeping effects your well-being
Sleep is vital. Sleeping well helps the body function. Without sleep, the body will break down mentally as well as physically.
Lack of sleep can cause lack of concentration, moodiness and sluggishness.
Trouble sleeping also affects your immune system. If you don’t get enough quality sleep you are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Trouble sleeping can also affect the speed with which you recover.
Ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is also linked to an increased risk to of obesity and it also affects how your body reacts to insulin – the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar).
The first things to try if you are having trouble sleeping
The basic advice given for overcoming sleep troubles includes:
- Waking up at the same time each day. Set an alarm and get straight up.
- Eliminate alcohol and stimulants like nicotine and caffeine
- Limit naps. If you nap for more than 10 minutes during the day you may go into a deeper sleep which may affect your nigh time sleep
- Exercise regularly. Exercise relieves anxiety, stress and depression. It increases body temperature, then post exercise temperature drops which can promote falling asleep
- Limit activities in bed i.e. turn off phones and tablets, TV’s and laptops.
- Do not eat or drink right before going to bed
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable
Having taken the above advice many people still struggle with sleep. When this happens you will need to dig deeper to find the causes.
Questly.life looks at 10 quests that help you live life in the best share possible. Within Questly sleep is rated highly as one of the top 10 factors effecting your well-being. For that reason a whole quest is dedicated to sleep.
The sleep quest on Questly deep dives into the topic of sleep. It covers all the basics you would want to consider and helps you set goals for your sleep. You can then dive deeper and explore other possibilities that may be stopping you from sleeping.
How you can use wearable tech to track your sleep
It’s important to be able to track your sleep patterns as accurately as possible. Sometimes you may sleep more than you realise. Other times you may sleep less than you thought. Using a tracking device like a FitBit can be helpful as it will more accurately help you understand your sleep patterns.
The screen shot below shows a decreasing trend of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping and you monitor your sleep, you can follow the pattern. By monitoring sleep you might start to notice that you sleep better on some nights, but not others.
This information give you data about what’s happening with you sleep. If you then monitor what happens around sleep you might see patterns start to emerge.
For example, you might sleep well two nights in the week. What you will want to consider is why you slept so well on those nights, but not the others.
It might be that you were more relaxed on the two nights or you might find that something happened on the other five nights that effected your sleep.
You may also find this video helpful. It looks at trouble with sleeping.
Using data to help your sleep patterns
If you have tried the seven items above, and you are monitoring your sleep and you notice there are some nights you sleep less well, other considerations could be:
Overall Nutrition – Nutrition is extremely beneficial in helping you get quality sleep. Overeating can affect your sleep, as can spicy foods. Studies have shown that people who have the most trouble sleeping are likely to drink less water and consume more calories, whereas people who sleep better tend to drink more water and consume less calories. The people who slept the best also had more varied diets.
Studies have also looked at how sleep influences eating habits. What research suggests is that lack of sleep interferes with hunger and satiety hormones crucial to regulating appetite.
What this suggest is that the relationship with food works both ways… good diet can help you sleep, but good sleep can help you make better food choices.
Sugar – Do you eat a high sugar diet? When you eat a high sugar diet your body is constantly looking for more sugar. Your insulin levels spike and fall and your body will wake you up looking for another hit of something sugary.
The problem with sugar is that it can build through the day, so if your day starts with a sugary breakfast then as the day goes along, you’ll crave more. Try starting your day with a breakfast that contains no sugar and no processed sugars – like bread. Also try to avoid white rice and pasta. Also keep fruit to apples, pears and berries. Avoid pineapples, peaches and mango. Keep bananas to a minimum.
Magnesium – A magnesium supplement may help you fall asleep. Many teenage girls and adult male and females suffer from magnesium deficiencies. Lack of magnesium in the body will effect sleep.
Magnesium is known to shut off a receptor in the brain and tells the brain it’s time to sleep.
You can get magnesium in a powder form. Take one or two tea spoons shortly before bed.
Another way to get magnesium into your body is through the skin by making up a magnesium spray. You can spray this directly onto your legs and arms. Some people will find the spray itchy and irritating. It can also feel a bit tacky if you are wearing trousers. What you can do is apply it 20 minutes before showering and wash it off.
B6 – Vitamin B6 helps with melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of it are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Some people struggle to absorb B vitamins. This is likely to happen when the gene in the body is turned off that controls it. Not everyone has this problem. The best way to find out if this is a problem for you or not is to take a DNA test.
If you struggle with sleep it could be your body’s way of telling you are not getting enough vitamin B. If that is the case this is worth checking out due to the other health risks that lack of vitamin B can cause.
If you find the gene is turned off, supplementation is the best way to get B6 into your body in high enough doses. You may want to look at this B6 supplement.
Geopathic Stress – Sometimes where you live may stop you sleeping. Your environment may be actually be what is stopping you from sleeping. This could be due to electromagnetic fields or ground stress.
Believe it or not, the stress in the ground, in the area where you live can affect your sleep. It could be an intersection of roads, a radio mast or ancient stress in the ground. This could be caused by living on an energetic earth line, often called ley lines. It could also be caused if you home is built on or close to a plague, burial or battle ground or a place where high stress has happened in the past.
This video explains more on how Geopathic stress can cause trouble sleeping.
Is your bed stopping you from sleeping?
In the old days, sleeping on a hard bed or floor was probably advisable, but those days seem to be behind us.
If you wake in the morning with a stiff back it may mean your mattress is too firm. This may be because you are “extension sensitive”. Extension sensitivity can be caused by excessive sitting or even through exercise which is biased towards extension based training (like running, jumping or squatting.
When you sleep on a hard bed it can also cause you to extend, which is the last thing you want, when you have been extending yourself all day.
Softer bed may be more preferable for you, but be careful with memory foam beds may also not be best for you as they form around you and lock you into extension.
When you go to buy a bed, give it a through test, spend more than 5 minutes laying on it. if you have to cross your feet the bed is likely going to be too hard for you.
Irritable Leg Syndrome can cause trouble sleeping
Irritable Leg Syndrome is also known as Restless legs syndrome and Willis-Ekbom disease,. It’s a common condition of the nervous system. It causes an irresistible urge to move the legs and twitches. It can also cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs. For most people who suffer with this it is often worse in the evening or at night.
Other factors associated with the development or worsening of Irritable Leg Syndrome include: Iron iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy.
- Many antidepressants
- Allergy medications
- Antihistamines and over-the-counter sleep aids.
- Nearly all centrally active dopamine-receptor antagonists, including anti-nausea medications.
You can alleviate Irritable Leg Syndrome. Try these methods:
- try some gentle stretching or yoga postures, starting about 15 minutes before bed. For example, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and touch your toes. ALso try folding your legs underneath your bottom and sitting on your heels
- give your legs a gentle massage
- Have a hot bath or try an ice pack
- Avoid heavy eating in the evening
- Avoid alchohol
- have your GP check your iron levels or take a personal blood test.
How an overactive mind causes trouble sleeping
The shouldn’t be overactive, or overstimulated at the time you are preparing to sleep. Ideally it should be calm and ready for sleep. However, some people’s brains seem to wake up when it is time for bed. Almost as soon as their head hits the pillow the brain switches on.
Ideally, at bed time, the brain is tired and ready for sleep, but if this is not the case it can be that you are neither mentally or physically tired. This could mean you need more exercise during the day. This may seem to contradict some advice that suggest meditation or visualization techniques at bedtime.
There are many potential causes that may lead to trouble sleeping. Some causes are obvious, like irritable leg twitches, other less so. The obvious problems are easier to address i.e. irritable legs, a hard mattress or lack of daytime exercise. if these problems are obvious start here.
With the less obvious symptoms it may be worthwhile seeing a nutritionist for dietary help. You could also asking your doctor for a blood test highlighting iron, B6 and magnesium.
A wearable device like a Fitbit can hep you more accurately monitor your sleep.
You can also use Questly.life to view your health overall and update your progress monthly.
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