21/02/2024

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Not Catching Enough Zs? Here Are 3 Common Sleep Problems (and How To Manage Them)

Not Catching Enough Zs? Here Are 3 Common Sleep Problems (and How To Manage Them)

Sleep helps maintain cognitive skills, including attention, learning, and memory, according to the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults sleep at least seven hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health and functioning, with most adults needing somewhere between 7-9 hours.

However, for those who aren’t getting enough sleep at night, sleep problems such as insomnia can make getting a good night’s rest more complicated. From insomnia to bruxism and even the challenges of having nightmares, here are just a few common sleeping problems — and how they can be successfully managed.

Your diet — and why it matters

According to one Harvard Health article, what you eat can affect your sleep. “Spicy foods can contribute to painful heartburn,” notes the post, which goes on to explain that big meals can leave you uncomfortably full (and over time, can contribute to issues such as obesity, which is a known risk factor for sleep apnea).

Too much caffeine can also cause sleeping woes by keeping you awake — in fact, it’s noted that it can take up to six hours to clear half of the caffeine from your body. “If you have enough caffeine, it’s still in your body at 4 in the morning,” states Harvard Health.

Thankfully, relieving sleep problems due to diet can oftentimes be remedied by being mindful about what you consume during the day and before bed. Harvard Health notes that solutions can include eating dinner at least a couple hours before bedtime and keeping the meal light, avoiding spicy, fatty foods in addition to alcohol and caffeine, and refraining from drinking too many fluids before bed.

The link between insomnia and nightmares

About a third of all adults report some insomnia symptoms, while six to 10 percent of adults have symptoms severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for insomnia disorder, highlights Healthline.

Symptoms include waking too early (and being unable to fall back asleep), spending a lot of the night lying awake, a consistent pattern of interrupted or broken sleep that doesn’t refresh you, and trouble falling asleep after going to bed, according to Healthline.

The post goes on to note that as a result, you may begin to experience other symptoms related to lack of sleep, which can affect day-to-day life. These include fatigue, irritability, other mood changes, and difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

Healthline lists several options for treating insomnia, including therapy, medication supplements, and natural remedies.

For example, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a ‘first-line treatment” for chronic insomnia in adults. While causes of insomnia can range from stress to jet lag and beyond, some people with insomnia may have trouble sleeping due to issues such as nightmares. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that insomnia is associated with an increased risk of nightmares. 

Nightmare disorder, however, is a disorder in which an individual experiences distressing nightmares, which happen often and can have an impact on well-being.

These nightmares can involve recurring dreams of threat or distress, though it’s important to note that this disorder will affect each person differently — for instance, some will have more severe nightmares than others. Causes of the nightmares may range from person to person, whether it’s stress, substance abuse, or sleep issues, to name a few. For those who experience nightmare disorder, consulting with a medical professional is important, as proper treatment may include a combination of psychiatric medication and therapy.

The value of unplugging before bedtime

Your smartphone can hinder your sleep in more ways than one.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, phones keep your mind engaged, and keeping it nearby at night can keep you awake with notifications, too. In addition to the content you watch before bed, it’s noted that engaging with your phone too close to bedtime can negatively impact the relaxing experience of falling asleep. That said, your phone can play a major role in your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to both sleep environment and behavior.

According to the Sleep Foundation, strong sleep hygiene involves having “both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep.” This includes creating an environment that is conducive to a good night’s sleep. This can be done in multiple ways, such as by avoiding bright lights and loud noises, ensuring that your bedding is comfortable, and setting the mood with relaxing scents (like lavender).

Creating a positive sleep routine sans your cell can be done by taking time to wind down at the end of the day, and maintaining consistency in your bedtime routine.

One way to implement good sleep hygiene habits is by creating a bedtime routine that focuses on relaxing activities before bed, rather than screentime. From reading a few chapters, writing in a journal, and even a quick yoga session, there is no shortage of options to choose from.

Getting a good night’s rest is imperative to good health, though there are several common sleeping problems that can impede a full night’s sleep. Thankfully, issues such as nightmares, dieting habits, and poor sleep hygiene can all be remedied.

This post was last modified on September 19, 2023 4:38 pm