Sleep is a fundamental component of overall health, yet it remains elusive for many. While common factors such as diet, inconsistent sleep schedules, inactive lifestyles, and excessive caffeine consumption are widely recognized contributors to sleep difficulties, there are several lesser-known factors that can also significantly impact sleep quality. Uncovering these unexpected culprits can be instrumental in achieving more restful nights. Let’s explore some not-so-obvious sleep snatchers.
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Sleeping next to pets
If you have pets such as dogs and cats, chances are you allow them to cuddle up next to you in your bed at night. While comfortably snuggling with your fur babies is known to reduce stress and anxiety, it doesn’t always lead to a good night’s sleep.
Let us take the example of cats. Cats have different sleep-wake cycles than humans, so allowing them to sleep on your bed might wake you up at odd hours. Studies show that cats can be as disruptive to sleep as humans sharing a bed. Try to regulate cuddling with your pets to daylight hours, and train them not to enter your bed when you call it a night.
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Hidden Side Effects of Medications
Chemicals potentially have a profound effect on your sleep-wake cycle. Regardless of whether you’re reaching into your medicine cabinet to treat the common cold or to take your daily anti-hypertension pill, it is important to be aware that certain medications could lead to having trouble sleeping.
Speak with your doctor if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of sleep; they might switch you to a lower dosage. Remember that certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, an often overlooked fact.
Sleeping on an old mattress
If you have tried several remedies and still cannot find the reason why you can’t sleep through the night, it might be time to look into your mattress. An old mattress is unable to support your body weight and over time, it wears on the pressure points of your body. Consequently, the blood flow to one side of your body could decrease, causing discomfort in sleep. This creates aches and fatigue the next morning.
A study on elderly people revealed that those who slept on uncomfortable mattresses experienced higher levels of insomnia. Regardless of your age, your mattress should be neither too firm nor too soft for an ideal night’s rest. Choose wisely when you purchase your next mattress and change it out every 10-15 years.
Also Read: 12 Steps To A Better Night’s Sleep
Allergies’ Silent Impact
Nasal allergies affect almost everyone and can definitely lead to trouble sleeping for both children and adults. Apart from seasonal variations, allergies caused by indoor dust mites and air pollution might also keep you up, as per Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology research.
To reduce allergies, it’s recommended to keep windows closed and remove pollen from your clothes and hair. Although antihistamines could help you combat allergies, they have other side effects. Other ways to prevent allergies are to clean your bed often and take a quick, warm shower before bedtime.
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Alcohol Before Bed
Although a glass of wine or nightcap may help you doze off faster, according to the National Sleep Foundation, it can cause wake-ups later in the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol, inhibiting restorative sleep. It can also cause your body temperature to rise, leading to vivid dreams or sleep terrors, aggravating breathing problems, and resulting in restless legs, all of which contribute to poor quality of sleep.
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Lack of Daylight Exposure
Adequate daylight exposure is crucial for regulating our circadian rhythm, which controls sleep-wake cycles. Natural light, especially in the morning, helps suppress sleep-inducing melatonin, promoting alertness. However, during winter or in lifestyles with limited daylight, this rhythm can be disrupted, leading to sleep difficulties and mood changes, as seen in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Therefore, ensuring sufficient natural light exposure, particularly in winter, is vital for maintaining regular sleep patterns and overall well-being.
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One reason the urban population struggles to sleep through the night is that the busy nightlife is a hindrance to a restful night’s sleep.
It gets worse if you live by a busy street with activity all through the night, as revealed by a World Health Organization (WHO) guideline study. Noise from a busy street could be a major sleep disruptor.
Since moving may not an option, try to use sleeping aids like earplugs and white noise machines to keep the noise at bay.
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