PsychologistIf you are one of the many people who have trouble sleeping at night, you may be wondering why and how it can be remedied. Sleep disorders are common and they vary from having difficulty falling asleep, waking up multiple times during the night, and waking up early to not getting enough deep sleep. They all result in sleep deprivation, which affects you in multiple ways.

A lack of quality sleep over time does more than just cause you to be tired. It actually causes long-term health issues such as high blood pressure and obesity. Your lack of energy also affects your healthy eating, exercise, and leisure activities. There are a number of reasons why you may be having trouble sleeping at night.

How much sleep should you be getting?

Some people look at sleep as a luxury and sacrifice it for other things such as work and social activities. It turns out, however, that sleep is a necessity and a sufficient amount is needed each night for good health.

The amount of sleep that is needed varies according to age, general health, and activity level. In general, the amount of sleep that you need decreases as you get older.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that infants from birth to two months of age get 12 to 18 hours of sleep daily, while those aged three to 11 months should get 14 to 15 hours. Those between the ages of one and five need 11 to 14 hours and five to 10 year olds should get 10 to 11 hours.

Adolescents aged 10 to 17 function the best with 8.5 to 9.5 hours a day. Adults need seven to nine. Although these are general guidelines, it will change from one individual to another. Those who have an acute or chronic health conditions tend to need more sleep than average, as do those who are extremely active.

What if you’re under excess stress?

Most of us experience some type of stress during the day, and for some the stress is so great that it starts to interfere with sleep. The American Psychological Association reports that the majority of Americans experience moderate to high stress on a fairly regular basis and that 44% have reported an increased stress level over the last five years.

Most people excessively worry when stressed, which causes them to be too wound up to be able to sleep. Hours are spent lying awake in bed thinking about the problem. There are also hormones released during stressful times that can keep you in a more alert state, which restricts sleep.

What are you doing prior to bedtime?

If you are struggling with getting a good night of sleep, evaluate what you are doing in the hours before bedtime. Caffeine is one reason why people can’t sleep at night. WebMD reports that it can take anywhere from eight to 14 hours to get rid of half of the caffeine in your body. This means that consuming caffeine after even 10 a.m. can negatively affect sleep for many.

Drinking alcohol before going to bed will also affect your sleep quality. It may be easy for you to fall asleep, but once the alcohol levels start to fall in your body, you will often wake up. Your sleep is also not as deep, which your body needs in order to fully heal. It is recommended to stay away from alcohol three to four hours before you go to bed.

What and when you eat before bedtime will affect sleep as well. If you eat a big and heavy meal shortly before bed, acid reflux can result. It also causes a less restful slumber. Not eating enough can also affect your sleep. Eat a small snack an hour or so before bedtime if you haven’t eaten much to avoid waking up.

Exercising too close to bedtime will also affect sleep for many people. After a workout you often are more energized for a couple of hours, which will interfere with sleep. Try not to work out within three hours of lying down.

If you are taking supplements, vitamins, or medications, check to see if there are any that may list trouble sleeping as a side effect. Some have an agitating effect, which can affect sleep.

Are your hormones out of balance?

Hormones can cause sleep problems. This is one of the reasons why depression often affects sleep patterns, as hormones and other brain chemicals are out of balance.

Females tend to notice sleep disruptions due to shifts in reproductive hormones during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation. Not only do the hormones affect sleep-inducing chemicals, they also sometimes cause pain and discomfort, which will keep you awake.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, investigate what may be the cause. It may be something as simple as a snoring spouse or a pet that keeps pestering you while in bed, or it may be something else that will take some life changes to fix. It is worth taking the time to find out the cause, however, in order to prevent future health problems from occurring.