In an increasingly busy world in which people are finding themselves pulled in a million different directions at once, getting enough sleep every night can be more difficult than it should be. There are a whole range of techniques that you can use to help you drift off, but sometimes it seems like nothing works as well as it should. A useful bit of information to know is what external factors actually direct your sleep. That way, you are in a better position to be able to control them to help you get the shut-eye that you need for both your physical and mental wellbeing. So, let’s take a look at some of these.
Of course, light is one of the top external factors that can both directly and indirectly affect your sleep. Directly, light makes it more difficult to drift off, while indirectly, it influences the timing of your internal clock. Our eyes contain light-sensitive cells which tell the brain whether it is daytime or nighttime. Since the invention of the light bulb, we have become much more exposed to constant light than our ancestors. If you are struggling with light entering through your bedroom window, try a blackout blind to keep it out.
You are probably already well aware how difficult it can be to get to sleep if you are feeling too hot or too cold. When you actually going to sleep, the set point for your body temperature goes down. This is designed to induce sleep which is why people tend to do better in a room that is cooler. Make sure that you don’t pile up your bed with too many blankets and think about getting a Casablanca fan to help regulate temperature. It has also been found that cold feet can be a factor in waking you up in the middle of the night, so consider sleeping in socks if this is the case.
Individuals across all age ranges tend to find it more difficult to get to sleep if they are experiencing high levels of stress. When they do actually fall asleep, it tends to be lighter, including more REM sleep and less deep sleep. Your body is designed to wake up to combat any danger, which is why going to sleep in a stressed condition is not a good idea. People use a range of techniques to tackle stress, but it generally helps to stick to a bedtime routine that includes calming exercises such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
There are a wide range of chemical factors that influence both quantity and quality of sleep. Some of the most common include alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. All of these substances need to be limited as much as possible, particularly when it is leading up to bedtime. Even though alcohol may help you to drift off at first, the quality of sleep that you get is usually a lot worse which is why many of us wake up feeling tired after a few drinks.
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