Health and Fitness – Why Can’t I Sleep?

By: Janet Hunt
Often I cannot sleep at night or I sleep very poorly. And I hear the same concern from many of my students, which is not all that unusual. According to the American Sleep Association, 35.3% of Americans report sleeping less than seven hours a night which is the minimum recommendation for most of us. Chronic lack of sleep does more than make us tired. It lowers our immune-system functioning and increases our risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Lack of sleep also negatively impacts cognition –, impairing memory, judgment and concentration.

If you fall into that 35.3%, below are some suggestions that may help you. First, set up your bedroom. If unwanted noise or silence is an issue, a fan can help neutralize the sound. Ensure you are sleeping with the right mattress and pillows.
Now that you are set up, here are some sleep dos and don’ts:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (give or take 20 minutes).
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal near bedtime as it can interfere with digestion. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can interrupt sleep in the middle of the night
  • Keep all blue light electronics out of the bedroom (TV, smartphones and tablets).
  • Exercise regularly but not right before bed if it tends to rev you up instead of calm you down.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep after five to 10 minutes, get out of bed and sit quietly in another room (don’t turn on electronics).

Below are some ideas that can promote sleepiness:

  • Hot bath/shower
  • Reading
  • Gentle stretches
  • Journal writing
  • Hot cup of decaffeinated tea
  • Meditation
  • Quiet time

Now that you know some do’s and don’ts, it is time to set up some sleep rituals. First, look at your current sleep habits and identify the negative factors. My bet is the culprits are TV and smartphone. I hear people say they watch TV until they fall asleep or play games on their phone.

If all else fails, see your doctor. But I would turn to drugs as a last resort. Often they will make you groggy the following day; and all drugs have side effects. In my opinion, the less you take the better off you are.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.