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The sleep saboteurs

Overview Tired of losing sleep? These six triggers could be the cause. Get onto them and wake up light and bright. There are a lot of different ways we can lose sleep. When you consider the huge impact that sleep deprivation can have on your short and long-term health, it makes sense to avoid these six sleep thieves from robbing you of shut eye. 

1. Sleeping on Weekends Sleeping in late on Saturday and Sunday mornings can induce a phenomenon similar to jet lag on Monday mornings. Little wonder some people find it hard to get out of bed and start their working week. Your body clock craves consistency. Try to get up at around the same time every morning, and go to bed early rather than sleep in when you are sleep deprived. 

2. A Night Cap Alcohol is the most commonly self-prescribed drug to induce sleep. A single alcoholic drink can induce a pleasant drowsiness, and reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep. But two or more drinks will reduce the quality of your sleep, suppressing REM sleep so you don’t wake up refreshed. Studies have shown that people who drink alcohol just before bed actually have a poorer sleep and are far more restless. 

3. Caffeine The caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even chocolate is a stimulant to your central nervous system, and can heightening alertness for six hours or more. So if you consume a cup of coffee at 4:00pm, that caffeine is still in your system at 10:00pm. It will lengthen the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and can interfere with your sleep quality. Try to minimise your caffeine intake after lunch.

4. Late Night Exercise While exercise in the morning and even afternoon is known to help you fall asleep, late night exercise can have the opposite effect. Exercise increases your heart rate and metabolism, and triggers the release of adrenaline, which will boost your energy levels for several hours. Exercise regularly, but not within 2 hours before bedtime. 

5. Bedroom Distractions If your bedroom is noisy, bright, or poorly ventilated, it could be interfering with your sleep quality. These distractions may not wake you up, but they can interrupt the transition into deeper phases of sleep. Try to keep your bedroom free of television and clutter, eliminate any distracting noises, and block out as much light as possible. A good quality mattress can also help. 

6. A Big Dinner Digestion takes up a lot of energy, and it can elevate your metabolic rate, interfering with sleep quality. It is best to avoid a large, rich or spicy meal within 2 hours of your bedtime. It’s also wise to limit your fluid intake close to bedtime to prevent nighttime awakenings from going to the toilet.

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