Twelve Things that can Disrupt Your Sleep

America is Exhausted


America has become a 24 hour society, and we are paying the price for the luxury of grocery shopping at 3:00 AM and working around the clock. The problem is so profound there are concerns that sleep deprivation is affecting the collective brain power and creativity of the American people. We are a society of somnambulists—and we are dangerous, both to ourselves and others. Technological advancements were supposed to provide more leisure time, but it hasn’t yet offered enough to get a good night’s rest. We are more on the go than ever, and America is exhausted. Most adults get 6-7 hours of sleep each night, well short of what is required for an active adult. The sleep deficit is enough that even sleeping in on weekends doesn’t correct the problem.

Without adequate rest, the brain works harder to function correctly, and with diminishing returns. Concentration, judgment and reaction times are quickly impaired. Slurred speech, irritability and depression soon follow. A prolonged lack of sleep eventually leads to paranoia and hallucinations, and can even result in physical impairments including diabetes and heart disease.

A National Sleep Foundation survey indicated that 60% of Americans admitted to driving a vehicle while feeling drowsy. At least 100,000 auto accidents a year are said to be caused by sleep deprivation, resulting in over $12 billion in property loss. It has been suggested that famous disasters from the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger to the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker could be attributed (at least in part) to the individuals responsible for making decisions suffering from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation was deemed a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, as well as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union. The Challenger incident jeopardized the future of NASA and the space shuttle program, while the Exxon Valdez oil spill and nuclear facilities accidents threatened the environment, the economy and lives.


We Need More Sleep

Americans are exhausted
Americans are exhausted
Sleep deprivation was said to play a role in the Challenger accident
Sleep deprivation was said to play a role in the Challenger accident
60% of Americans admit to driving while drowsy
60% of Americans admit to driving while drowsy
Watch what you eat before bedtime
Watch what you eat before bedtime
Limit your alcohol consumption
Limit your alcohol consumption
Turn off the television in the bedroom
Turn off the television in the bedroom
More rest will give you a physical and mental edge
More rest will give you a physical and mental edge

Twelve Factors that can Affect Your Sleep


How can we get a more restful sleep at night? We can understand and control factors that affect our ability to sleep well. Many things can interfere with our rest, but the following list includes some of the most common causes of poor sleep.

1. Food. Digesting a meal is not a passive activity. Our stomach, circulatory system, pancreas and digestive track are all quite busy after a big meal. In addition, a spicy diet may result in acid reflux while rich, heavy foods in the evening can lead to indigestion.

2. Alcohol. Although alcohol might help you fall asleep, it interferes with dreaming and deep sleep stages. To minimize the effects of alcohol on restful sleep, it is recommended that a drink with dinner be the final drink of the day.

3. Liquids. Drinking too much water can awaken you during the night to use the bathroom, particularly if you suffer from diabetes or other medical conditions that contribute to frequent urination. You will be better rested if you drink less before bedtime.

4. Caffeine. Caffeine is a strong stimulant that interferes with both your ability to sleep and the quality of your rest. If you must drink caffeinated beverages, they should not be consumed after dinner to ensure sound sleep.

5. Exercise. Vigorous exercise elevates the heart rate and inhibits your ability to wind down. Strenuous activity may also aggravate aches and pains that can keep you awake. Studies have revealed that when you exercise in the morning, you will more easily fall asleep at night. Exercise in the evenings did not help and often inhibited falling asleep.

6. Sex. Sex can be pleasant and relaxing, but it can inhibit sleep if it is not both physically and mentally rewarding. If the time with your partner is not satisfying, frustration or emotional issues can surface and affect your sleep.

7. Smoking. Nicotine is a powerful central-nervous system stimulant. Many smokers also confess to waking after four or five hours with nicotine cravings. If you must smoke, it is recommended that your last cigarette of the day be at least four hours before bedtime.

8. An irregular schedule. Your body responds to a regular schedule of activity and sleep can be affected by working rotating shifts or long hours. Even when getting enough sleep, if your sleeping patterns are irregular you will notice the effects. Your sleep is most restful at night.

9. Room Temperature. Temperature extremes can affect your rest. You won’t sleep soundly if your room is too hot, and a cold room interferes with REM sleep. A comfortable temperature for sleeping varies widely between individuals, but it has been suggested that 60-65 degrees is considered a “good sleeping” temperature.

10. Television. Most Americans have a television in their bedroom, and the urge to see how a program ends or catch a late-night talk show can be powerful. If you fall asleep while watching television, program your TV to shut down after 30 minutes so it is quiet and dark while you’re sleeping.

11. Light. You will sleep best in a dark, quiet room. Too much light affects our internal clock, and it has been determined that illumination from a television or even a clock can interfere with restful sleep.

12. Sounds. Some may enjoy falling asleep to music, but the volume should be low and the music must shut off after awhile. Sudden or jarring sounds (even from music) may cause you to wake up in the night, preventing you from reaching deeper levels of sleep.

If focusing on these conditions doesn’t improve your quality of sleep, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder and should consult a doctor.



Wake up, America


Most Americans are sleep deprived, even though the benefits of a restful sleep are myriad. A good night’s sleep is crucial to your physical and emotional well-being. Sleep boosts your memory and makes you more alert; it reduces stress; it keeps your heart healthy; and, it reduces the risk of cancer and depression. With eight hours of sleep each night, you can awaken alert, refreshed and able to begin your day without reliance upon stimulants.

Fighting sleep deprivation is not an all-or-nothing proposition: small changes can mean significant improvements. Getting a little more rest will help, even if it still isn’t quite enough. Monitoring the environment you sleep in to ensure optimal conditions for sleeping well will also yield positive results. Watching when and how much you eat, drink or smoke will dramatically improve the quality of your rest. A little more sleep will make a noticeable difference and America will be a safer, healthier society.


Good night, everyone.


Want to learn more about sleep and how it affects us? Click on the link to read this outstanding article--     Sleep: Do We Need It?


Are you getting enough rest?

How many hours of sleep do you average per night?

  • 4 hours or less
  • 4-6 hours each night
  • 6-7 hours each night
  • 7-8 hours each night
  • At least 8 hours each night
  • I sleep all the time
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Comments 44 comments

coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike, I knnow I don't get enough sleep. I stay up way too late and then desicpline myself to get up early to exercise..I do try to allow myself time to sleep in at least 2 days, but seems my body is used to getting up early so I end up not really sleeping in.

Great hub - very useful!

CS


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

When I was keeping my RN license up to date and maintaining my continuing education credits, I took a course on this very subject. You did an excellent job of summarizing what was taught! Little changes can make a huge difference in our lives. Rating this hub useful, for sure!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks for reading. I don't get enough rest, either, but I'm trying to do better. It has recently become more important to me because lately I have felt physically ill if I don't get enough rest for several days in a row, as if I'm coming down with the flu. A good night's sleep and all is well again. I have only noticed this in the last year or two, which told me it was time to pay closer attention to simple things like going to bed on time. Which I need to do soon.

Thanks again for stopping by. Sleep well.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for your kind words. I am a firm believer in small gains--too many of us adopt an "all or nothing" mentality that become self-defeating. My biggest issue with quality of sleep for now is my love of soda. A Coke or Pepsi in the evening is usually very appealing--but not all that helpful. I am doing better in other areas, so perhaps I can soon focus more on this one.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Just A Voice 6 years ago

Well I'm screwed! I failed 6 out of the 12 points of getting a good nights sleep.

Problem is I'm a night person, and my job demands me to be a day person. Even though I can get into a routine of getting up early...I can't get to bed early. So I'm averaging about 4 to 6 hours a night depending. It doesn't sound like that is a good thing. The only time I get a long rest is a)I'm totally exhausted or b)I use a sleep aid.

Good hub Mike~ although now I have one more thing to stress about...lol


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State

Great Hub Mike- I know for a fact that I don’t sleep near enough-which is why when I finally do calm down and stop long enough to relax...I tend to pass out. But most of the time it isn’t that easy and have trouble turning off my mind and putting to rest the list of things I have to complete that will never be complete. Thanks for the hub-Rated Up and Useful


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Your insightful hub about sleep deprivation has prompted me to devote this couplet to you:

Are you not sleeping as long as you like?

Then note these conditions suggested by Mike!

Thanks for your inspired coverage of the subject and creative photos.


Megavitamin profile image

Megavitamin 6 years ago

Great information! My sleep schedule is always in extremes. I need to work on getting myself into more of a routine. Thanks for the tips.

Good night, Mike!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

I'm glad I read this because I am guilty of about half the points above, but didn't know the consequences until reading this Hub. (A chicken toastie at 12.30am, Coca cola, Satellite TV. A small glass of Baileys always helps me dose off, but now I know why I can't remember my dreams. lol.

Excellent Hub. I'm taking some positive Action.

Regards. :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Voice! I didn't mean to stress you out, but hopefully you can get more than 4-6 hours of sleep a night before too long. I understand being a night person, there is a part of me that seems to automatically become more alert once 11:00 PM hits. I have learned to get to bed before 1:30 or 2:30 in the morning, but staying up that late is not beyond me if I am in the middle of something. I am working on trying to keep a regular schedule, however.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you get the rest you need.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

HC, thanks for reading. Just like my response to Voice's comments, I share some traits with you. Like you, I tend to keep going until I can't push it any further, and then I collapse. I have tried to set limits for myself and keep a regular schedule. I'm working on it but I'm not quite there yet. I also have a very active mind, and it is sometimes hard to slow my thoughts down sufficiently to relax. The impetus for writing this was my own need to improve my sleeping habits. They are better than they were, but......

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, your mini-poem was terrific. I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your own creativity. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Megavitamin, I hope your schedule isn't so dramatic it isn't possible for you to get the rest you need, although I know that is exactly the case for some folks. A routine does seem to help. Thanks for stopping by and reading, I appreciate it.

Sleep well.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Elena. I'm much like you are, I will go for a late-night snack, and I am addicted to Coca-Cola--my one true vice. It is encouraging to feel my writings can benefit someone, so thank you for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated. Pleasant dreams.

Mike


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Hi Mike-I'm one of those people who sleep 8+ hours for a couple of months, then I find myself wandering the house-or playing in the forums on HP-until 3 or 4 in the am.

I definitely think there's an emotional element at work!

Thanks for the hub-I'll bookmark it to read again when I can't sleep! :)


Baileybear 6 years ago

excellent hub. I've had a vice of cola too (becaues I can't eat much other stuff in the way of junk with adverse reactions). Think it is disrupting my sleep. Have weaned to 1/2 can/day. Am also trying to set a new pattern as need to get up earlier for new job (I'm not an early bird), so I'm not getting restful sleep at moment


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lorlie, thanks for stopping by. I hope you benefit from your bursts of energy--or at least enjoy them. I am finding it more difficult to stay awake late at night than I used to, and at this point I'm okay with that. Whatever your sleep pattern, I hope it works for you. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Baileybear, I admire and envy your ability to cut your consumption of soda down to a half-can a day. I'm working on it, but you definitely have me beat in that regard. I hope you can get used to waking earlier for your job--I know it's murder having to get up before you're ready to, each and every day.

Good luck, and thanks for stopping by.

Mike


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

I'm going to tell my mom to TURN OFF THE TV! Me, I sleep like a baby.......... until the dogs start in with their 2 am howl........... gotta love 'em! ~ Kaie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Sleep, clears the cobwebs... I spent 15 months getting about 1-3 hours sleep each night. You always felt like having a hang over. SCUBA was ONE thing that helped cope. I had to do it to complete a self-imposed need to complete Bachelors degree before I got out of service.. Start to finish in 15 months while I worked full time during the night! When in times of crisis, we can really excel. However, as you noted, it can be dangerous and after getting "older," I wonder, What for?"


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kaie, thanks for reading. If your Mom watches television late at night, by all means suggest she turn it off. She will fall asleep easier and her sleep will be more restful. Pets are an unusual element in the "good night's sleep" equation--they definitely run on different schedules than people do. Thanks again for stopping by, and glad to hear you already sleep well.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Dallas, thanks for your comments. It sounds like you were really pushing it hard for awhile. I never got by with less than 3-4 hours sleep on a regular basis. You are absolutely correct, however--in times of crisis, our mind and bodies rise to the occasion and we can do amazing things. Hopefully your schedule is more normal now--a normal night's sleep really does make a difference in the long run. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a highly informative hub Mike!

I also have a hub on sleep. Can we link up? You covered here what I did not cover in my hub, so it will be great to link up. What do you think?

God bless!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jill, thanks for stopping by. I would be happy to link hubs with yours, and I greatly appreciate the offer. Thanks for the suggestion.

Mike


zzron profile image

zzron 6 years ago from Houston, TX.

Excellent topic, I am a long-distance truck driver and we are allowed by law 10 hours for a break at the end of 11 hour day of driving. Part of that 10 hour break is used for taking a shower, eating or just relaxing for a little while before going to bed.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

zzron, thanks for your comments. Truck drivers perhaps have the most difficult challenge of all in finding restful sleep, even with the schedule you have described. The ten hour break doesn't allow much time between eating and sleeping, and there is also the problem of not having familiar and comfortable surroundings to sleep in. Frankly, I don't see how you guys manage to do it. You show a lot of grit and determination while getting your job done.

Thanks again for your comments, and I hope you are able to get the rest you need to perform your job well. Take care!

Mike


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Hi Mike,

Thanks!

I just added the link to my hub. You can link back too.

http://hubpages.com/health/sleep--do-we-need-it

All the best!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jill, thanks! I have linked back to your hub, as well. Thanks again.

Mike


equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

We cannot all be rich, nor pretty, nor have all the talents and abilities listed on the book of virtues. But I sing haleluja for having the one little grace of sleeping like the dead.

Some days I sleep 2-3 hours, and other days 6-8 hours. But when I'm sleeping, I'm in bussiness. My heart comes to a near standstill.( I actually think my metabolism is slowing down so much, that a few braincells is gone by wake up time due to O2 starvation.)

Whilst asleep, the dogs can bark, my home can be on fire, the garden service can mow the lawn, neighbours can throw a wild party - nothing wakes me.

Upon waking, I am refreshed and can jog another mile or two. I think I do not do the REM thing! No time for that...

Your hub is very well presented with the facts nicely sorted. I am sure it will help a lot of people, coping with a world wide problem. They say stress is the disease of our time, but I have to agree with you. If humans sleep better, the stress levels will reduce on its own. Voted up and rated useful.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Equealla, thanks for reading. I envy you if you can fall quickly into a sound sleep and wake up rested and energized. You are one of the lucky ones--especially compared to most Americans. I am a light sleeper and awaken frequently to noises and sounds that wouldn't bother others. I hope that if your home really is on fire you will notice, but it's good that you can sleep so peacefully.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you continue to rest well.

Mike


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

these are all so true, but I'd add one more: kids... it seems to pop into my head when I get woken up by a "needa go potty" at 2, 3 and 5 in teh morning that kids do break my sleeping pattern! Stumbled and rated up!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Rebecca! You're right, of course--kids are a major obstacle to getting a good night's sleep. Unlike watching television too late, however, I'm not sure there's much we can do to help that situation except wait for them to grow. At least we know it will get better!

Thanks so much for reading, and for the rating and stumble! I appreciate it a great deal!

Mike


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Most of the time my sleeping hours are between 5-6 a night. For some reason it seems the need for sleep has become less over the years. Once I shut my eyes I'm out like a light on most nights. However, there are nights when pain seems to keep me awake. This helpful hub should bring more sleep to many Mike. I rated it up because you did a wonderful job! A++


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan, thanks for the rating and the kind words. I have found myself sleeping a little less than I used to, but the minimum number of hours for me to function well has probably increased a little, as paradoxical as that might sound. Where I once could get by with 4-5 hours of sleep a night but needed eight, I now find myself needing at least 6 hours of sleep, but seven is about the maximum now. It is an odd thing, but I assume for me it might have something to do with age.

The fact that you can sleep soundly is good, and hopefully whatever pain is keeping you awake is not serious.

Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it.

Mike


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

Great info Mike . .. up until my early 20's I could used stay up till all hours. . then i became a mom and took advantage of any hour that I could sleep. . .but since I was pregnant I have this thing where I wake have to eat a cookie (yes it has to be a cookie .. double stuffed oreo is the preference) then I go right back to sleep . .my daughter is off in college but I still wake for that cookie (sometimes 2) doesn't seem to interrupt my sleep for come morning I feel rested and ready to go.....

Rated up and useful!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Wavegirl, thanks for stopping by. When I was younger I could stay up very late--in fact, it's only within the last 5 years or so that I really drag if I don't get enough sleep on a regular schedule. The cookie is an interesting aspect of your pattern. I wonder if it has perhaps become a signal to your brain that it is time to relax? Whether that's the case or not, it is a nice story and I thank you for sharing it.

I appreciate your stopping by, come back any time! Take care and thanks.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Excellent info, especially for a guy like me, who's been struggling with sleep deprivation for years. Perhaps my biggest problem is the irregular schedule--I just can't seem to be consistent. I'll keep in mind some of these other things as well, such as not eating or drinking before sleeping. Awesome, thorough info.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Benny, thanks for writing. An irregular schedule can ruin the chances for a good night's sleep--the body operates best when our routines are consistent. It has also been said that we sleep better at night than we do in the daytime, so even if our schedule allows for regular sleeping habits, it would seem we still are not as well off if we are sleeping during the day.

Hope you are able to sleep well soon.

Mike


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Mike - I read where they have found that some children with ADD had sleep apnea. When they removed the kids' tonsils and adenoids (something that was done regularly years back) the childrens' behavior and focus improved within a week! Those kids with the ADD were sleep deprived!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Dolores, that is a fascinating discovery. Improved behavior within a week is remarkable! I know they used to remove tonsils, and if it makes a difference in childrens' behaviors, that seems a great reason to go back to the practice. That seems far better than medicating kids.

Thanks for the information about apnea and ADD, it is an amazing discovery.

Mike


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

You chose a great subject to write about Mike. I know I am one of the many sleep deprived. I sleep like a baby, but only for five to seven hours some nights.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lovelypaper, thanks for stopping by. I think so many of us are sleep deprived--I know I haven't been getting enough rest lately. I can usually do pretty well on seven hours, but five or six just isn't enough. It seems like society is geared toward making certain we can't get the rest we need. I'm trying to do better, though.

Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope you sleep well.

Mike


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