Surprising reasons for disturbed sleep

How to ensure a good night sleep.
How to ensure a good night sleep.  Photo: Getty Images

We all know how important a good night sleep is, with the National Sleep Foundation recommending adults get six to nine hours a night. But visiting the land of nod as soon as your head hits the pillow isn't as easy for some.

Lack of sleep can affect people in many different ways, including co-ordination, attention, decision making and various health concerns.

While there are many obvious ways to ruin quality of sleep (coffee and smartphones), here are some surprising things people do during the day that can affect their sleep. 

Not making enough time for sleep

Eating right and exercising aren't the only aspects that need to be considered for a healthy lifestyle, the other aspect is healthy sleep, says Prof David Hillman, Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation.

Most people know how much sleep they need, but instead of allowing enough time they try to squeeze whatever they can. "That's when you get into this sleep restricted state where you think you are functioning alright but you are sub par," says Hillman.

Lack of exercise

There are many benefits to exercise and a good night sleep in one of them.

The New York Times reports for people without sleep problems, "Exercise and sleep seem to have a relatively uncomplicated relationship. You work out, fatigue your body and mind, and sleep more soundly that night."

However, "people with insomnia and other sleep disturbances tend to be 'neurologically different,'" and exercise doesn't always improve sleep straight away. That said, one study found adults with insomnia had improved sleep after four to 24 weeks of exercise.

Staying inside all day

We know the artificial blue light found on tablets and iPhones at night is bad for us, but sitting inside all day exposed to artificial lights isn't doing us any favours either.

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Dr Robert S. Rosenberg, Board- Certified Sleep Medicine Physician and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, told Bustle: "The more light you expose yourself to during the day, the easier it will be to fall asleep at night."

"Bright sunlight during the day strengthens our circadian rhythms and makes it more likely we will fall asleep at night."

Eating spicy foods

A study found adding spice to your dinner can affect the quality of sleep.

Australian researchers found adding tobacco sauce or mustard to meals before going to bed changed the sleep patterns of participants, experiencing less sleep and taking them longer to fall asleep.

Researchers said that after eating spicy food, participants had elevated body temperatures, which interferes with your body's natural sleep process.

Setting the temperature in your house too warm

As tempting as it is to sleep with an electric blanket or heater on during the cooler months, this causes your body to struggle with sleep.

Your body's core temperature follows a 24-hour cycle. "Sleep is most likely to occur when core temperature decreases, and much less likely to occur during the rises, " The Conversation reports: 

"During REM sleep (the deep sleep phase), our ability to regulate body temperature is impaired so in a clever sort of way the body "avoids" this stage of sleep during extreme cold or heat."

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