Ever since I’ve gotten to college, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I never had issues sleeping before, at least not that I can remember, but now it’s a problem every night–I’m never tired when I’m supposed to be, and then I feel tired in the morning when I’m supposed to be waking up. When I do manage to fall asleep, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night.
I’ve tried some over-the-counter sleep aid stuff, but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Experts, can you help me?
Our sleep schedules are a very important part of our overall health, including both our mental and physical health–so it’s a shame that they’re so easy to throw out of whack!
As you’re finding out, a life without regular sleep can be very difficult, indeed. Research tells us that sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of problems, affecting everything from our moods and our productivity levels to our physical health. Students do better in school when they get more sleep, young people are less likely to exhibit risky behaviors if they have a good sleep schedule, and people are happier when they’re one hundred percent rested.
Yet, like you, many of us don’t get enough sleep. According to the CDC, more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep. Some of those folks know it, and some of them know why–but others don’t even realize that they have a problem, even though their lack of sleep affects their health and everyday lives in various ways. So what’s going on? Why are all of these people not getting enough sleep?
There are a wide range of factors that could impact sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep, experts say. You could, for instance, have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are far more common than many people realize. For instance, sleep apnea alone affects more than 20 million Americans, say the experts at SoClean, a company that makes an automated cleaner and sanitizer for CPAP machines (often used to treat sleep apnea). It’s possible that you have a sleep disorder of some sort, which could help explain your frequent nighttime awakenings in particular.
However, you don’t have to have a physical issue to have poor sleep patterns. Sleep problems can also stem from your mental health: stress, for instance, can damage your ability to get restful sleep. Since your sleep problems seem to have emerged following a change in your lifestyle and environment–your move to college–this seems like a strong possibility. Again, doctors can tell you more: consider speaking to your primary care physician about this, and discuss the possibility of seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist to reduce your stress (your school may have therapists and other on-campus resources that can help, too).
Last, it’s also possible to have poor sleep that has nothing to do with either physical or mental health. Simple lifestyle decisions and habits can have a big impact on your sleep. Your body is designed to sleep at certain times in a cycle, and throwing off that cycle can leave your body reeling and unable to tell when it’s supposed to be tired. Be careful about staying up too late: try to fall into a rhythm of going to bed and waking up at about the same times each day. During the day, make healthy decisions: eat well, get exercise, and avoid alcohol, especially in excess and before bed.
However, there aren’t too many ways to narrow down the potential causes of your sleep problems given the information you provided–in fact, it would be irresponsible of us to do so. However, you can get the answers you seek by turning to medical experts with the background knowledge that we’ve provided here. Make an appointment with your doctor and come prepared to be honest about your lifestyle and any sleep-related problems you’ve experienced. In the meantime, also consider making sensible changes to your lifestyle to see if reducing stress or getting into a rhythm helps. You’re making a great decision by choosing to focus on getting better sleep, and we think you’ll find that your efforts are rewarded. Good luck!
“Bedgasm (noun)- A feeling of euphoria experienced when climbing into a bed at the end of a very long day.” – Unknown