5 Reasons You Struggle in the Dark

5 Reasons You Struggle in the Dark

August 24, 2018

We can all agree that we have some issues with sleep. Some of us may have trouble sleeping once in a while, and some might struggle on a constant basis. We also have our own sleep patterns and sleep rituals. Some may function better with 6 hours, and others need 8 or 9. It’s all preference and the way your body functions. However, there is no doubt in my mind that we can always use a little help with falling asleep.

What’s your issue with struggling in the dark?

Here are 5 reasons why you can be struggling in the dark:

1. Your room is the problem

Temperature can affect the way you sleep. I’m sure we've all had those summer nights where you just couldn't get cool enough or the winter times where your feet would not stay warm. There is no optimal sleep temperature, but some might enjoy a warmer room with less bedding or a cooler room with more bedding. It’s all based on your preference. Next time you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, try and adjust the thermostat a few degrees higher or lower. Most people I've talked to enjoy a cooler room. Some studies have shown that sleeping in a cooler room has shown more benefits, the prominent one being the promotion of melatonin release. Room temperature should be geared toward your personal preference.

Lighting is another key factor in the ways your room affects your sleep. There isn't something more frustrating on the days you are sleeping in than to get woken up by the lovely sunshine. Ideally, you want your room to be like a cave when sleeping, and that is dark. Avoid overly bright lighting in your room; dimmer lights are more beneficial because often times we have the lights on prior to going to bed. Eye masks or blackout curtains can benefit as well.

Noise will always affect your sleep. How many times have you woken up because your proactive neighbor decided to test out the snowblower 3 months before winter or that one guy that though cutting his grass at 8:00 a.m. was a great start to his day? Noise does have a positive aspect, however. Ever hear of white noise? This type of noise has improved many people's sleep. White noise is similar to white light; white noise is a combination of all frequencies that a person can hear. It is able to block out random muffled sounds that can be keeping you awake. Find a white noise playlist and give it a go. Noise-canceling headphones can also be a way to more restful sleep.

  • 2. Your stuck to your electronics

  • The light from your electronics is known as blue light. It is shown that this light causes suppression of melatonin. Blue light prior to sleep is also linked to fewer hours of sleep and more awakenings throughout the night. Blue light in the day has been linked to a greater attention span, alertness, and decrease daytime tiredness, which is exactly what you do not want when trying to fall asleep. Maybe your phone or TV is holding you back from a night of restful sleep. Think about it, how long do you spend on your phone or watching TV prior to going to bed. Those hours could have been devoted to sleep. I’ve caught myself many times going to bed at a later time because I found something interesting to watch on my phone or I get stuck on a new TV show. Cutting the electronics might be exactly what you need. You may even need a social media break.

  • 3. You may have a sleeping disorder

  • You’ve tried everything and are getting no results, maybe it’s time to see a professional. Sleep disorders are fairly common, and you may need to see your doctor and get a sleep study. A good idea is to look at your sleep habits and patterns. 1 in 3 people have at least a mild form of insomnia; unfortunately it may be you. All is not lost; a professional can help figure out what is causing your insomnia and on ways to prevent it from holding your sleep back. Another issue that can occur is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airways close and prevents air from entering your lungs. When severe, this can be a serious condition that can result in death. Sleep apnea affects roughly 22 million Americans. It is best to see a sleep specialist if you continuously wake up at night, constantly feel tired during the day, loud snoring, or morning headaches.  

  • 4. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes

  • We all know caffeine is a stimulate that keep us going. Drinking too much coffee or drinking it at night will have some severe negative impacts on your sleep. The half-life of caffeine is roughly 5 hours, which means it takes 5 hours for your body to get rid of half the caffeine. That means it takes 10+ hours to get rid of the caffeine in your system, which can be the exact issue for your inability to sleep.

    I’m sure we know at least one individual that professes how they have a drink of alcohol before bed and how they sleep through the night. That's great, but unfortunately, it might be hurting you. Alcohol disrupts our circadian rhythm, which impacts when your body knows to go to sleep. Alcohol taken 1 hour prior to sleep has shown to decrease melatonin production.  Another reason to cut alcohol prior to bed is because you will build a tolerance to its sedative effects, eventually needing to consume more for the same effects. This can be deadly for you and your liver. Cigarettes are just as dangerous for your sleep. The main reason is nicotine. You smoke throughout the day, and now you try to cut cold turkey while you sleep. You will be having some withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, headache, and sweating almost every time you go to sleep, especially the heavy smokers. Cut off these before bed and see how it can benefit you. 

  • 5. Turning sleep into a job

  • Another common issue is making it a job to go to sleep. Ok, it’s 9:00 p.m., time for bed brain. It doesn't always work like that, we do not have a sleep switch to turn on and off at our discretion. I need to be up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for work, I better sleep every minute. You don’t need exactly 8 hours of sleep each night. There are times where you might need 9, but there are also times when you can perfectly function at 6. Let the sleep come to you, don’t think about it, but also don’t think about the stressful day you had. It can be hard. Try incorporating some mindfulness or meditation prior to sleep to calm your brain and nerves. It can be beneficial to just relax and focus on your breathing, or even counting has benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    The key to a restful night is to figure out what is keeping you up at night. Cut out the habits of using electronics at least 30 minutes prior to bed, make your room a cave, or go see a professional. Be mindful with sleep be well with rest.


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