For the past week, it has been impossible for me to fall asleep before 3 am unless I take ZzzQuil. I’ve heard that using electronics before bed can impact your ability to fall asleep, but it has never taken me so long to get some rest. I want to find out what else may be causing my restlessness.
One reason, according to WebMD, may be stress, “when you’re stressed out, your adrenal glands release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which keep you amped up and struggling to snooze.” With school work, extra curricular activities, and all the new experiences college has to offer, I have definitely been stressed and anxious lately.
Additionally, eating too much before bed can cause reflux, according to Alon Avidan, MD, associate professor of neurology and associate director of UCLA’s Sleep Disorders Program. This can lead to coughing, heartburn, and more pain, which all obviously cause discomfort while trying to sleep. I find myself, like most college students, eating late at night while trying to finish up homework, or when I have cravings.
Forbes offers another interesting cause: exercising too late. They say, “If you exercise within three hours of trying to sleep, you’ll overstimulate your metabolism and raise your heart rate causing restlessness and frequent awakenings throughout the night.” As a busy college student, I sometimes find it hard to figure out a time to go to the gym. Thus, I have been going later in the day, sometimes after dinner. This could definitely explain why I am wide awake and energized at night.
Now that I know what may cause my sleeplessness, I want to know how to fix it. CNN offers several tips to help. They say to try the “4-7-8” exercise in which you inhale your breath for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. This will slow down your heart rate and regulate your breathing, helping you sleep faster! A funny tactic is to put on socks when you sleep. Professor Ancoli-Israel says that while sleeping, the perfect temperature is to be cooler in the core and warmer on the outside of your body. Further, “one study revealed that wearing socks dilates your blood vessels and can help blood flow, leading to a more optimal temperature for snoozing.”
From now on, I will watch my exercise, food intake, and stress levels more carefully. Also, when I can’t sleep, I will try these simple tasks and see if they work!