As you become older, your sleep patterns can change and become inconsistent based on hormonal changes and your internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, circadian rhythm regulates “the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day.” Disruptions in your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle can impact weight gain/loss, mental health and whether you experience increased risk for heart-related events such as heart attack and stroke.
Since sleep is so important to helping your body function better, it is important to know what may be coming between you and a good night’s sleep.
Here are some factors which could cause you to lose sleep:
1. Caffeine and alcohol intake.
Too much caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns. When you drink caffeine, which is a stimulant, it moves into your bloodstream and stays in your system for about six hours before half of the caffeine is eliminated. The more caffeine you drink, the more it stays in and stimulates your system.
Alcohol is a depressant but has a similar effect. Alcohol causes you to relax initially but works against you getting deeper, more restful sleep. Alcohol impacts your rapid eye movement, also known as your REM or deep sleep. While you may initially fall asleep after having alcohol, it disrupts your sleep as the night goes on and you have less REM sleep.
2. Loneliness can cause sleepless nights.
Feeling as though you are alone or as though you have a lack of support from others in your life can impact your sleep patterns. A small study from the University of Chicago found that participants who felt lonely experienced more nighttime disruptions and restlessness.
If you are feeling lonely and believe this could be impacting your sleep, build a support system around you. When people have a support system, this helps them achieve better rest. Develop friendships and networks with people who can be there when you are going through tough times so you don’t feel as though you are dealing with things on your own. Additionally, staying active in the community, doing volunteer work, or participating in hobbies can help you counter those feelings of loneliness.
3. Working the night shift can throw off your body’s internal clock.
Your internal clock can impact and shape much of your sleep cycle, but insomnia can set in if you try to sleep outside of