While some reasons for suffering a disturbed sleep pattern are pretty clear … coffee late at night, an unsettled newborn or noisy neighbors … others might surprise you.
Often, people do not have any idea why they are not sleeping so well. We blame one thing, when in truth it's another cause entirely.
Here are 7 reasons for disturbed sleep.
1. Pets in the bed. It's not uncommon for people to let a cat or dog sleep on their bed with them, evidence suggests that having animals in bed with you makes it harder to get quality sleep. Our pets have different sleep / wake cycles to us … so at 3:00 am it's playtime for your cat, sleep time for you. Even the mixture clinking of the tags of a collar can roouse you from sleep. If you can not bear to sleep without your pet, at least set them up a spot on the floor, so they can sleep right next to you, but not in bed with you.
2. Alcohol causes the body to respond in a more complex way than is commonly realized. Alcohol acts first as a sedative but after a few hours pass when blood alcohol levels drop you wake up again. You want to put down your glass two or three hours prior to bed … so enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but do not count on that nightcap before bed to do anything for you.
3. Undiagnosed GERD – nights are often especially difficult for people with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) because when they lay down the acid in the stomach comes back up the esophagus and this brings heartburn and pain. You may find sleeping propped on pillows helpful. Acid reflux is an unexpected culprit with sleep issues, and screening for it might be a good move, though not everyone with GERD has dramatic symptoms, sometimes disturbed sleep is the only symptom that presents itself. Getting treated is important as this helps with sleep and reduces the chances of suffering any serious health issues later on.
4. Medicines, Vitamins / Supplements are commonly behind disturbed sleep though you've severely suspect them. Both steroids and beta-blockers can also keep you awake at night. Opioid medicines for pain do make you drowsy as they take away your pain; they can also up your risk for sleep apnea. Botanicals like ginseng are actually stimulants; vitamin B6 and B12 can result in vivid dreams that disturb your sleep. Best to take these medications in the morning.
5. Even mild pain from any source can disrupt your sleep. Things like fibromyalgia, arthritis, headaches, backache or menstrual pain all bear the blame for some of us. The thing is, the pain does not have to be bad to disrupt sleep and it does not even need to wake you. Pain signals fragment your sleep; cutting the time spent in the deep, restorative phase. Those suffering chronic pain will often wake up more tired than the night before. The take home message is that even mild chronic pain should be checked out with your doctor as it's doing more damage than you think.
6. Being exhausted does not necessarily make you sleep better, and there's a difference between feeling totally wiped out and being sleepy. No matter how drained and tired you feel when you get home, it's a good idea to unwind before doing anything else, especially trying to sleep. Spend a few minutes sitting quietly first and this will keep you from tossing and turning once in bed.
7. Undiagnosed sleep disorders are a common problem when it comes to getting the sleep your body needs. Almost 40 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder – sleep apnea, limb movement disorders are both possibilities but since these disorders only show up when you're asleep, you probably do not know if you have symptoms or not. If your sleeping partner has these issues this can also disturb your own sleep.
Finding what can help you get the rest you need may take a bit of trail and error. Pay attention to the comfort and quiet of the room you sleep in. Practice good sleep habits as much as you can, and make getting the right amount of sleep as much of a priority as eating a healthy diet and exercising every day.
Take action if you're having trouble identifying what's behind your disturbed sleep pattern … you might need to be evaluated by a sleep clinic, but start by talking to your doctor about your sleep issues. Many people go for years undiagnosed and tired all the time … you do not have to be one of them.