Having Trouble Sleeping?
My clients ask me questions I’m sure you wonder about too.
I have a personal training session scheduled for 7:00am with a prospective client. I set my alarm the night before for 5:00am so I can be on time for my client at 6:00am. I wake up at my scheduled time feeling extra good and get ready to start my day.
What? Why is this post titled “Having Trouble Sleeping” if it sounds like I had a great night sleep? Well, this isn’t about me at all. At about 5:30am I got an email from my prospective client asking if she can reschedule our session because she has yet to actually fall asleep. Hold on, so she confirmed our session the night before and since that time, she’s just been up all night? Yes, that exactly what happened and when I asked her why she wasn’t able to sleep, can you guess what she said? “I don’t know why”. That got me thinking, maybe other people are having this problem. So here are 5 of the most common reasons people can’t sleep at night but they probably aren’t aware of.
I think it’s safe to assume that most people have figured out that an old beat up mattress can make for a pretty uncomfortable sleeping experience. If you accompany that with pillows that have losts their fluff and you’re lucky if you can average 2–4 hrs a night without waking up in all sorts of pain. Have you ever thought about the way you are using your mattress? When you lay in bed doing work, your brain begins to associate your sleeping space with your job. If things are going well at work, then you have nothing to worry about. If things aren’t going so well, you’ll find it very difficult to fight anxiety. The urge to take your laptop out and check your emails or work on that project can become overwhelming. You may have left the office but you are literally taking your problems to bed with you.
Fix: Sit at a desk, sit on the floor or find another room to work in. Protect your bed as a safe place used for only two reasons. Sleep and sex.
2. All of the lights
It’s bad enough that our phones are with us more than we are with our loved ones and hold more personal information about us than we would even share with our best friend. When we are exposed to the blue and white lights that radiate from our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and tvs at night, it prevents our brains from releasing melatonin (a hormone that tells our bodies it’s night time). That means it takes longer to fall asleep because your brain thinks you should be up.
Fix: Turn off all electronic devices 30mins to 1hr before bed time. Use the alarm on your phone to wake you up. I know, I just said don’t use your phone before bed but the great thing about using your phone’s alarm is you can set it and forget it! Setting an alarm doesn’t mean check instagram and twitter. “If you don’t want me to check social media on my phone, shouldn’t I just get a digital alarm clock…… hmmm…...” Well, digital alarm clocks give off a red/green or blue light that can also keep you awake in a dark room. If you have to use one, turn it so that it faces away from you. This way, the light from your clock isn’t hitting you in the face while you sleep and if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, you won’t create anxiety by subconsciously counting down how much time you have left before your alarm goes off.
It’s not just about what time you eat. What you eat matters too. We know that what we eat is important to our overall health. Our bodies use amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to create the calming neurotransmitters that helps us fall asleep. When our diet lacks variety, or contains a lot of processed foods, we don’t get those beneficial nutrients. This causes our bodies to struggle to complete the biochemical reactions that help us get to sleep and stay asleep.
Fix: Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality meats. Eat foods high in magnesium, like halibut, almonds, cashews, and spinach, and foods high in vitamin B complex, like leafy green vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Avoid eating 1–2hrs before bed so your food can be properly digested. While you’re at it, do the same with water and other liquids because waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is also bad for a good night rest.
4. Irregular sleep times/sleeping routines
Tonight you went to bed at 9pm, tomorrow you go to bed at 12am. On weekends you say, it doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep because I don’t have to go to work the next day. If you can live this way, wake up and feel great, then more power to you. If not, you’re better served not calculating the amount of sleep you need based on what you have to do the next day. When you don’t have a routine that regulary tells your brain it’s time for bed, you will have an increasingly harder time falling asleep. When you were just a baby, your parents taught you when it was time for sleep by nursing you, rocking you, and turning off the lights. When you got older they would say “turn the light off, brush your teeth and go to bed” Nothing has changed now that you’re older, if anything, those lessons are more valuable to you now that you’re an adult because nobody will set that habbit for you anymore. Our brain will cooperate with us alot more when it’s time to go to sleep if you trained your body to give off cues to let your brain know that it’s time to call it a night.
Fix: Start a routine. Shower before you go to bed. Brush your teeth at the same time every night. Turn off your electronics at the same time every night. I know it’s impossible to keep the same exact routine 365 days a year but if you keep your routine as often as you possibly can in the begining, it will work wonders for you.
5. Your partner
Don’t we all just love a nice warm body next to us at night? Well not if they are the reason you can’t get to sleep. You’re always hot but they’re always cold, they regularly get into bed after you’ve fallen asleep, they wake up regularly in the middle of the night,they grind their teeth, snore, or talk in their sleep. If this sounds like your current situation, then you my friend have quite a delma. You’re saying to yourself “my partner might do some of these things and I’ll admit, it annoys me but I’ve been with them for years, it doesn’t actually bother me that much”. Well, just because you’ve gotten use to their behaviors or patterns doesn’t mean you’re immune to the affects they have on your sleep. Address these problems early or you’ll resent them later on.
Fix: Get a new partner!
I am not an expert on sleep but these are just a few ideas I’ve given my clients to help them beat the no sleep bug. Well, except for leaving their partner. I suggest trying to work it out (but in my head, my advice is to just leave them lol).
If any of these tips were helpful or insightful, let me know. I would love to hear from you. If you really like it, please share.