With all the bio-hack talk about blue light, and simple home hacks for setting up your bedroom for the “perfect sleep”, you would think that with only a few simple lighting changes and turning down the AC by a few degrees all our our sleep problems would be a thing of the past. But the truth is, this is not even close to the case, and in this part 1 of 2 blog I’m going to be discussing the BIG 3 reasons I have found for people to not sleep well, and in part 2, what we can do to start to fix these for a better sleep tonight.
So what are the BIG 3 Sleep issues, well that’s a bit of a mislead, as it's actually 3 BIG categories, in which a number of variables fall into place, but the 3 big are;
And here’s the tricky part, they are far from mutually exclusive. For an easy example, think of stepping on a tack. The tack is environmental, it’s something outside of your body. Once you step on the tack, your sensory system sends a message from the impact point to the brain that something is wrong, that’s physiological, and your brain then registers pain, discomfort, unease, disturbance, and you react, that’s the psychological. So you can see there is often a blending of these 3, and the same is true when it comes to our sleep.
Environmental - Fix Your Space
So let’s start with the easiest part to fix; the environmental. And this is where most health professionals start and end their discussions about how to sleep better because these are the things we can control very easily.
Light - We can reduce the brightness, buy special bulbs like my favourite Bedtime Bulb, use blackout blinds, get some morning sun, wear a sleep mask, and wear good quality blue-blocking glasses glasses.
Temperature - We can control the temperature of our air and even our beds to maintain the perfect temperature to promote deeper sleep.
Noise - For this again we can make sure our rooms are quiet, or free of off beat, or non-flowing sounds. Research has shown us that we sleep well in two kinds of environments, complete silence, or with an on going and contrast low rumble. This is because even though we are sleeping, our brains still register random sounds, so if we can drown those out with a contrast low sound, we can also sleep better. This is very relevant to those who might live in places like down towns, or near railroads, airports, etc.
Scent - Strong scents can keep us awake, and even stimulate our brains, while others can help us sleep.
Physiological - Fix Your Body
Next we get to Physiological, and this gets a little more in-depth, and we start to get into hormones and your bodies structure
Are you doing things in the evening that are messing up your hormones? For example, the bright light I spoke about disrupts your body’s natural hormone rhythms and prevents the cascade that would allow melatonin to be released.
If you exercise at night, or other stresses, and even diet related issues, we can raise cortisol too high, or raise adrenaline, disrupt glucose metabolism. Are you lacking magnesium in your diet? Are you dehydrated? Over hydrated? Are you doing things to raise your heart rates, or raise your blood pressure. All of these can affect our ability to get to sleep, or get a deep sleep.
Are you overweight? This could cause sleep apnea. Do you snore? Are you a mouth breather (leading to dry mouth)? You could even have nasal or sinus issues causing obstructive sleep apnea (nasal obstruction is a problem reported by approximately 15% of the general population). Maybe it's aches and pains? Ulcer pain? Or even a medication / supplement side effect. Kidney and thyroid issues can also lead to sleep issues. Maybe you're sensitive to caffeine and don't realize the connection?
Psychological - Fix Your Mind
And finally we get to one of the BIGGEST causes, and the one no one talks about because it’s complex, and it can’t be sold in a bottle or wrapped in an easy package to sell you, and that’s the psychological.
Do you have any issues on your mind that are stressing you out? Often we are very good at ignoring our problems in the day, keeping busy, distracted, focusing on other projects, but once you hit the pillow, I promise you all those worries are going to come bubbling up.
Are there financial issues your facing? Bills. High credit cards? A broken car or soon to be broken car?
Are you having relationship issues? Or maybe no relations at all?
Are you facing an illness, or worried about someone who is?
Do you have a to do list or a must get dome list that just keeps growing, or not getting done?
Arte you watching emotional, or stressing TV and movies?
Are you working late on your computer?
Do you hate your job? Your car? Your home? Maybe there’s someone in your life causing you too much stress stress. A boss, co-workers, and the list goes on an on and on.... But the thing is, YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL THIS if you want to get a good nights sleep. Following a few “sleep hacks" from some bio-hacking guru of the internet is honestly, pretty much 100% useless to you.
Now that you know what the BIG 3 are, in the next blog I’ll help you develop some strategies to fix them, and I can tell you this. I suggest you follow up with blog #2, as we need to understand that we need to prioritize our sleep if we want to live stronger, longer and better.