"Why can't I sleep?" With almost half of all Australians sleeping poorly or not all, according to research by the Sleep Health Foundation, it's a question we seem to be asking ourselves a lot!
If you're tired of waking up more tired than when you went to bed, and it seems like a good night’s sleep has more elusive than your half-remembered dreams of Chris Hemsworth, then the chances are the cause could be something you're doing (or even something you’re not doing). Here are 5 common reasons for a bad night's sleep!
1. Poor Diet
You may not believe it, but what we eat and our quality of sleep are actually intrinsically linked. Nutrition plays an important part in how many winks we get each night!
Don't believe us? One study that looked at nutritional intake and sleep quality, found that optimal average sleep time was associated with the highest variety of foods, and that both short and long sleep times were associated with decreased food variety.
2. Blue Light Exposure
You might think that extra half hour of Netflix is what helps you drift off before bed, but it's probably doing more harm than good.
The blue light emitted from digital screens like laptops, ipads and smart phones have such a profound impact on your sleep because they directly affect your body's production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making you feel sleepy, and blue light suppresses the production of this important hormone.
Try falling asleep with a good book or some mindfulness meditation to see if you notice a difference!
3. Alcohol Before Bed
"It's called a nightcap for a reason!" you say. Bad news: that delicious glass of Pinot that accompanied your dinner isn't doing your sleep any favours.
A new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Try switching out your evening wine for a soothing cup of tea.
4. Stress and Anxiety
When you're feeling stressed, there's not much you can get done or focus on properly - let alone plan for a good night's sleep. It's a chicken vs the egg situation - stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems, or make existing problems worse.
One of the best ways to get a good night's sleep when you're under stress is by implenting a solid sleep ritual and introducing some good sleep hygiene.
Getting to bed at the same time every night is a classic sleep ritual tip, so you've probably heard this one. But if you're someone with anxiety, the "classic" sleep tips are even more important because of your propensity for sleepless nights.
Of course, most important of all is to see a doctor or registered mental health professional if you are feeling the level of anxiety and stress you are experiencing is unmanageable or irregular to day to day life.
5. Too Much Caffeine
Here's another myth buster! We may think that a few cups of coffee during the day are what keeps us alert and helps exhaust us for a good night's sleep, but it's quite the opposite.
Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. The most obvious effect of the stimulant is that it can make it hard for you to fall asleep! One study also found that caffeine can delay the timing of your body clock - which will reduce your total sleep time. Caffeine also can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you enjoy.
The effects of caffeine can occur even when you consume it earlier in the afternoon or evening. One study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by 1 hour.
Did any of these sound familiar? If you think any of these issues might be the reason behind your bad night's sleep, you might want to try changing up your ritual and seeing if accounting for these makes a difference.