Sleep disturbances and nightly wakefulness are the banes of everyone’s circadian rhythm. Sometimes, you can name the disturbance. You know what’s bugging you. You know why you aren’t sleeping well and how to fix it is as elusive as your dreams.
Sometimes, however, your sleeplessness has little or no logical explanation. It’s like that time when you awoke at three a.m. thinking the alarm clock surely failed to wake you until you checked the actual time. Why are you awake when you should be asleep? The truth is that your environment may be to blame.
The air we breathe may not be as pure as we think and that can wreak havoc on sleep. Pet dander, pollen, dust, and even mold or mildew is enough to lead to disturbances, particularly if you are sensitive to allergens.
Sometimes, it seems like our environment works against us, especially when it comes to allergies and nightly sniffles and sneezes among other things. With up to 50 percent of Americans suffering from allergies, find solutions to overcome this common problem is easier than you think. It involves the following:
- Stay on top of mold and mildew
- Control pet dander
- Controlling pollen brought indoors
- Dust and clean often
- Manage asthma, hay fever, and other allergies
- Use an air purifier as an added measure
Staying on top of cleaning and air purification is key to overcoming many of the allergens that plague you indoors. Yet, what about other things that plague sleep, like chronic pain?
Name the Pain
Living with chronic pain is a royal pain and one that can wake you at night. You turn from your back to your side and your lower back suddenly throbs. Or, your knee aches so bad that you can’t get comfortable.
If you’re living with chronic pain and your regular, nonprescription medications are not cutting it, call your doctor. It may be that you need additional therapy, stronger medication, or a more serious problem that needs to be addressed before the Sandman returns the favor.
Searching for Sandman
The phrase “I dream of…” makes no difference if you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia is a condition that comes to mind, but it’s often caused by external factors we can control like stress, shift work and jet lag. Finding ways to adjust to outside factors such as these while protecting your dedicated sleep time is essential to a healthy body and getting adequate, quality sleep. Yet, temperature also plays a role. The Sandman can do only so much if your sleep environment is stuffy or involves arctic conditions.
Some Like it Hot
Temperature makes a huge difference in how well you sleep. So important is temperature for sleep that the Journal of Physiological Anthropology conducted a study on it. While more information is needed, what we do know is that the best temperature for sleep is roughly 84°F (or 29°C). Any hotter or colder than this and you’ll risk having more wakeful hours each night. So, avoid using the “arctic blast” setting on the A/C during summer or cranking up the thermostat to 400 degrees Kelvin in winter and you should be just fine.
Regardless of how warm or cool you like your sleep environment, don’t forget about proper lighting..
This Little Light of Mine
When it comes to sleep, don’t take things lightly. In fact, getting down with “dim” or not at all is best for better sleep quality. The worst lighting to have is blue lights, which includes fluorescents and today’s digital LED lights. Considering most televisions, computers and smartphones contain these kinds of lights, consider unplugging at least 30 minutes before you snooze. The reason is that blue lights stimulate the brain and disrupt your circadian sleep pattern.
Rhythm. This leads to more sleep disruptions. So, power down for better sleep.
A frightening 45 percent of Americans report that they don’t get enough sleep. Why should you be one of them? If your environment impacts your sleep, in a big or small way, making a few simple changes now can transform the way you sleep.