What Causes Sleep Problems?

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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Do you keep tossing and turning throughout the night? Are you having problems staying asleep at night? While most adults consider this as a normal part of aging, it is not always your age.

An occasional night of restlessness might not affect you much, but constant sleep disturbances might have a significant impact on the quality of life, make you irritable and drowsy during the day, and result in weight gain. Your immunity may also get affected, making you more susceptible to infections.

 
 

There are various factors that cause nighttime restlessness and disturbed sleep, and we will be addressing some of the most common ones here.

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1) Heavy Midnight Snacks

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Eating a late-night snack is not necessarily bad, as people who sleep late feel hungry and are usually unable to sleep. But, it is essential to eat the right kind of snacks at night. A greasy meal or snack can disturb your sleep and cause heartburn or acid reflux. It also affects the quality of sleep and makes you feel sleepy the following day. Instead, opt for healthy snacks, such as some nuts, a few crackers, etc.

 
 

2) Temperature

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If you get up in the middle of the night feeling too cold or too hot, then it is the temperature of the room and your body to blame. Before you sleep, remember to adjust your thermostat to around 65 ℉ or 18 ℃. Also, keep a blanket handy, so you can cover yourself up if you feel cold.

3) Electronics

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It might be fun to watch videos or play games as soon as you hit the bed, but the blue lights emitted from electronic devices produce large amounts of energy and throw your body off balance. This light from your TVs and smartphones stimulates the brain, keeps you alert, and prevents you from falling asleep. Limit phone time an hour before sleep, and instead, read a book.

4) Anxiety and Stress

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Do you find yourself staying awake and stressing over the events from work? If yes, then it is time to distract yourself at night before you sleep. Listen to soothing music or read a book until you feel incredibly sleepy and relaxed that you automatically doze off. This will avoid unnecessary thoughts and anxiety, resulting in a good night’s sleep.

5) Irregular Sleep Pattern

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Sleeping and waking up daily at different times might affect the quality of your sleep. An hour here and there does not matter, but drastic changes can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle of your body. To avoid this, make and stick to a schedule. Train your body to sleep and get up at fixed times every day. This keeps the internal clock alert during the day and sleepy at night.

6) Lack of Physical Activity

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Various studies have shown that a lack of physical activity increases the risk of insomnia and other sleep problems. Exercise is not only the key to a healthy lifestyle but also crucial for a peaceful sleep. But, do not exercise at night right before hitting the bed. Increased heart rate before bed makes it difficult to fall asleep. Working out in the morning is considered best.

7) Sleep Apnea

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Sleep disturbances are not always due to our lifestyle, but sometimes, it can be signs of a sleep disorder. If you constantly experience sleep disturbances almost every week for a few months, it can be a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Here, a person wakes up in the middle of the night as breathing gets disrupted suddenly. If you feel you have sleep apnea, consult a doctor online.

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