Right now, we are facing a global sleep-deprivation crisis. We do not realize that poor sleeping habits lead to health issues, which can turn out to be chronic.
Stats from the Sleep Health Foundation show that 45 percent of Australians are not getting the recommended amount of sleep at night.
What This Article Is All About?
This article will walk you through the main lifestyle factors that can affect your sleep followed by some effective solutions.
Let’s get to it.
Top 4 Overlooked Reasons for Sleep Deprivation
# 1: Are You Taking These Medications or Drugs?
A large number of people in the modern world is dependent on medications and recreational drugs for a variety of reasons. The presence of caffeine and nicotine has made matters worse. Anything that includes these items is most likely to disturb your bodily functions, especially your sleep.
Research at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center, Detroit brought to light something alarming. Even when taken 6 hours before bedtime, caffeine can reduce total sleep time by 2 hours and sleeping efficacy by up to 20 percent.
Apart from caffeine, nicotine, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs also play a huge role in not letting you sleep better without drugs. Medications that are categorized as stress relievers or anti-depressants tend to disturb the chemical balance in your brain, leading to disturbed sleep.
# 2: Are You Struggling With Some Physical and Emotional Health Challenges?
Whether you suffer from long-term health challenges like diabetes or temporary illnesses like the common cold, it is most likely to leave a negative impact on your sleeping pattern. Moreover, chronic pain can also contribute to the lack of sleep.
Similarly, if you have any kind of respiratory disorder, you are more likely to have a poor quality of sleep. Also, stress levels and poor mental health can keep you awake. Sleep and mental health have an intimate connection that many people fail to realize.
# 3: Your Workplace is the Main Culprit?
Have you been stressed at work lately? Probably that’s the reason you are unable to sleep and always feel tired.
You might not realize this but your work environment has a lot to do with your sleeping habits. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), produced some staggering figures related to working conditions and sleep disorders.
According to the surgery, around 37 percent of the working class at any given time is affected by severe sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation leads to poor concentration, reduced efficacy, and overall can compromise your physical and mental wellbeing.
# 4: Find the Reason in Your Room
This is perhaps the most overlooked element when it comes to sleeping better without drugs. At times, the reason for you not being able to sleep better can be as simple as having a noisy atmosphere.
The overall ambiance of the room you sleep in has a lot to do with comfortable sleep. It mainly revolves around the lighting, bed quality, noise levels, and so on. If any of these factors go through even the slightest of changes, you are likely to experience changes in your sleep cycle.
For example, it is impossible to sleep knowing there is a war going on and anyone could barge into your room. Situations like these keep an individual alert and worry about their safety instead of managing a quality sleep cycle.
Top 11 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Sleep Better Without Drugs
Fortunately, sleep deprivation is preventable and can be tackled without the aid of unnecessary pills.
Yes, you can manage to sleep better without drugs by simply following a few simple rules mentioned below.
# 1: Look Before You Eat
The high caffeine content in your food and drinks messes up your sleep cycle and can lead to severe sleep deprivation. That is why it is not recommended to have a cup of coffee before you are off to bed.
Moreover, to sleep peacefully, you should avoid consuming foods with high spices, especially if you are not into exercising. Spicy foods tend to cause heartburn and this usually happens if you take dinner right before going to bed. Acidity and gas might seem like normal issues but can severely comprise the quality of your sleep.
Pro Tip: Here are the foods to eat and foods to avoid if you want to improve your sleep.
|Foods to Eat
|Foods to Avoid
|Tryptophan (a sleep-promoting substance) rich foods bananas, egg, honey, and warm milk
|High fat and fried foods
|A little carb-rich snack cracker, bread with cheese can also help. However, don’t overindulge!
|Caffeine-rich foods like coffee, cola, tea, and types of chocolate
|Relaxing teas like chamomile tea
|Try other foods like kiwi, walnuts, fish, and soy foods,
However, you need to make sure that you are done with dinner well before your bedtime to minimize the risk of acid reflux, heartburn, or stomach gas.
# 2: Exercise at Least 30 Minutes Every day
The importance of exercise cannot be emphasized enough. Apart from helping you sleep better without drugs, it brings numerous other benefits to your body as well.
If you are physically active, you are more likely to sleep better. As per research, exercise helps with proper sleep in a multitude of ways.
First, exercise helps you digest food properly. This way you don’t get indigestion, heartburn or feel full when it is time to sleep. Also, physical activity helps manage a healthy body temperature required for a sound sleep. Besides, exercise helps reset your inner body clock back to normal. This is called the circadian rhythm.
Finally, exercise releases a lot of good hormones like serotonin in your brain that can promote sleep.
Pro Tip: Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity workout at least several hours before going to bed. However, keep in mind that exercising late can somehow adversely affect your sleep pattern.
# 3: Try Breathing Exercises
In addition to physical exercises, breathing exercises have a lot in store for you, especially if your mental health is the main reason you can’t sleep well.
Such exercises are designed to calm your nervous system and help your body to gear up for a good night’s sleep.
Pro Tip: Just 5 to 10 minutes of deep breathing before going to bed and after getting up in the morning can do wonders for your sleep cycle.
# 4: Stay Hydrated
Imagine having to wake up in the middle of the night just because you feel thirsty. Annoying, isn’t it?
It is perfectly normal to wake once in a while to get something to drink. If it is becoming a pattern then you are probably not drinking enough.
Your nasal passages and mouth become dry when you are not drinking enough water throughout the day. This, of course, causes a certain level of discomfort when you are off to bed.
You need to be careful about hydration if you snore or you suffer from any intensity of sleep apnea. The human body tends to lose fluid when you breathe while sleeping especially if you breathe from your mouth. The ideal way to stay hydrated is to drink water throughout the day instead of gulping down a water bottle right before sleeping.
Pro Tip: Again, be cautious about the timing. Avoid drinking anything (even plain water) an hour or two before going to bed. You don’t want to wake up now and then rushing to the toilet.
# 5: Fix Your Surrounding – Check These 6 Things
Now, this is important. Here is the checklist of things to fix in your surroundings before you head off to bed.
- Lock the Door– Make sure you lock the doors before sleeping to rule out the chances of safety issues.
- Tidy Your Room– Other than safety, cleanliness of the room you are in affects your sleep. People with tidy rooms tend to sleep better compared to the ones with messy rooms. A better idea is to always take some time out to tidy out the room before you sleep.
Scattered stuff on the bed makes it uncomfortable for you to freely move around the bed and eventually, you suffer a broken sleep cycle. The process of deep cleaning your room itself can declutter your mind in many ways and help you keep up with the complexities of daily routine effectively.
- Check the Lighting– It is always advisable to keep the lighting to the minimum. Use dark colored blinds if there is too much light coming from the outside. You can use blindfolds to keep all the light away. If you are someone not comfortable sleeping in pitch dark, use bulb with a low-intensity light or blue-colored light.
- Check the Sounds– Annoyed by a clock ticking? Remove it from your room. Anything that could be a potential source of noise should be switched off, kept out or switched to the least noisy mode.
- Check the Temperature- It is also important to manage room temperature, especially in countries like Australia. The temperature shouldn’t be too cold or too hot for the sake of better sleep.
- Check the Smell- Some smells make you feel good and make you fall asleep quicker. You can diffuse essential oils into the air or light scented candles for a while to maintain a peaceful environment for sleep.
# 6: Bed, Mattress, Pillow, and Bedding- Check These 4 Things
If you have done all of the above and still tossing in your bed finding the right posture, chances are that your mattress or pillows are not giving your body the support it needs.
Here is the checklist for you.
- Choose Your Bed Wisely– Make sure you invest in a quality bed that does not squeak when you toss or turn. Also, make sure it is sturdy enough to give your body the best support.
Pro Tip: Don’t use your bed for anything else except to sleep. Don’t watch T.V, use your phone or laptop, and don’t even eat when you are in bed.
- Choose a Firm Support Mattress– Choose your mattress carefully. You don’t want your mattress to sag, neither do you want it to be extremely stiff. Make sure your mattress is soft enough to make your body feel at ease yet it should be rigid enough to go with the contours of your bed.
Pro tip: Check your mattress in person and try not to buy it online. This way, you get to feel the mattress, its material, and the kind of support it would give your body. Buying a mattress is a serious business.
- Choose the Right Number of Pillows– Make sure you are using the right number of pillows. Don’t use too many or too little pillows.
Pro Tip: Make sure your neck is at level with the rest of your body when you are sleeping. This prevents your neck from overstretching and you don’t wake up with an aching back or neck.
- Choose the Right Bedding– Choose the right bedding material. In a country like Australia where it is always warm, make sure your bedding is made of breathable material such as cotton.
Pro Tip: Make sure the pillows, mattress, and bedding don’t have an odor. This can put you off and prevent you from sleeping. Make sure all these things are clean and smell nice.
# 7: Manage Stress
It is almost impossible to avoid stress. However, you can always manage your stress.
Here is what you can do to manage stress.
- Choose an Overall Healthy Lifestyle– An overall healthy lifestyle is essential for controlling stress. It is also important to figure out the major causes of stress in your life and dealing with them.
- Seek Expert Help– If you think your mental health conditions are somewhat chronic or difficult to control, seek professional help right away. Cognitive behavior therapies can help overcome your fear and stress.
- Balance Between Work and Life– It is also recommended to maintain a healthy work-life balance if you wish to sleep better without drugs. Try not to bring our office to your home, especially to your bed.
- Avoid Stressful Situations– Do not expose yourself to stressful situations before sleep. For example watching news late at night, engaging in arguments, etc.
- Try Stress Managing Techniques–
You can try stress managing techniques, like:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Warm baths before bed
# 8: Observe These Screen Rules
Excess screen time around bedtime is among the most important causes of disrupted sleep cycles.
The artificial light in such screens prevents the release of sleep hormones in the human body. This keeps you alert and awake through the night. Therefore, managing screen time is highly essential for your physical and mental well-being.
Here is how you can manage your screen time.
- Distance Yourself From Screens At Least an Hour Before Bed– You can either read a paper book as a substitute or simply distance yourself from the screen when your bedtime is near.
Get done with screen-related tasks well before sleeping and eliminate the risk of a sleepless night. Set a certain time slot during which you can use the screen.
- Keep Track of Average Screen Usage– Moreover, keep track of your screen usage every day to know whether you are on the track or not. Try to cut back on unnecessary screen time.
- Use Screen Filters– Using screen filters for your laptops, T.Vs, and mobiles is also an effective way to reduce the exposure to the harmful screen light throughout the day.
# 9: Manage Your Daily Routine
Pulling an all-nighter for the exam the next day is not a good idea if you wish to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Once you start sleeping throughout the day and work during the night, it becomes difficult to back to normal. Always start your day early to get done with every task on time.
Avoid skipping meals because doing so does not allow your body to function properly and eventually that affects your overall sleep pattern. Eat well in breakfast and avoid overeating at night.
Most importantly, take good care of your hygiene because a clean mind and body help you sleep faster and better.
# 10: Avoid Medications and Drugs
Unless necessary, it is best to distance yourself from medications as much as possible. Medicines can cure the relevant problem well, but they come with a set of side effects, and ruined sleep is one of them.
If you have minor health issues that are potentially not too serious, then go for natural remedies to cure the issue.
# 11: Avoid Alcohol and Nicotine
Consuming alcohol and nicotine around bedtime can be disastrous for your sleep. Drinking and better sleep certainly don’t get along well.
It may help you fall asleep, but it does not have what it takes to get a healthy good night’s sleep. Alcohol relaxes your muscles to an excessive extent which does not allow you to have a normal breathing pattern when sleeping.
According to a study, moderate alcohol intake reduces sleep quality by 24 percent and high amounts by 39.2 percent.
Consuming nicotine also affects your sleep quality drastically. Research shows that smokers tend to have higher chances of insomnia compared to non-smokers.
Sleep and Drugs-FAQs
The list below includes the common side effects of drugs for sleep.
– Dryness of mouth and throat
– Tiredness during daytime
– Poor hand-mind coordination
– Cardiovascular issues
– Memory issues
– These can precipitate insomnia in the longer run
Always make sure to use these pills following expert advice.
Abruptly ending a sleeping pill course can be troublesome for you to handle because such drugs come with serious withdrawals that affect daily functioning. Medical practitioners recommend to taper off sleeping pills gradually to avoid painful withdrawals. While you are at it, it is important to take care of your diet, exercise, and hydration.
Sleeping aids include sedatives that compel you to become used to it. You develop a psychological and physical dependence on these pills with long-term use.
Fortunately, no. It takes a few days but the pattern eventually comes back to normal given that you make the necessary efforts that we have mentioned in the article above. However, prolonged sleep issues can lead to health issues which makes the matter worse. Even in this case, the problem can be fixed.
No doubt, sleeping pills, and other recreational drugs help you sleep but they certainly do not help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle. If you are concerned about your health in the long run then it is about you start taking measures mentioned above can help you sleep better without drugs. There is no greater blessing than sleeping without popping pills to sleep.
Dr. Muhammad Usman is a Doctor, Nutritionist, Wellness Coach and a Researcher with a deep insight into all aspects of writing related to health and science.