A good night’s sleep is all-important for quality of life and health. If you have prediabetes, adequate sleep is especially important for losing weight and managing blood sugar to lower risk for diabetes. Still, as Lark DPP mentioned, a variety of factors can get in the way of getting optimal amounts of sleep.
Luckily, many of them are easily addressed! Here are some common barriers to getting enough quality sleep, and what you can do about them.
1. Not Setting Aside Enough Time
Does this sound like you? You wake up with an alarm clock to get in a workout, get the kids off to school, and/or get to work. At night, you do not get into bed until you have finished all of your tasks, no matter how long they take. This is a recipe for being short on sleep. Instead, set aside enough time for sleep by counting back from when you need to wake up. For example, if you need 8 hours of sleep and need to wake up at 5 am., bedtime should be 9 p.m.
2. Being Physically Inactive During The Day
People who exercise or are physically active tend to fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night. Working up to the DPP goal of at least 30 minutes per day of physical activity can improve sleep.
3. No Bedtime Routine (or too short)
Bedtime routines are not just for children. If you jump into bed right after you finish working, exercising, or running errands, you may have trouble falling asleep. Your heart may be pounding and your mind may be racing because, in effect, you are asking your body to go from 100 to 0 in a few seconds. A longer bedtime routine serves as a transition by giving your body and mind the message that it is time to rest.
4. Getting Distracted (too short bedtime routine)
It takes time to get through a bedtime routine, but so many distractions can cut short that time. Time can pass quickly when you are doing addictive or engaging activities, such as watching TV, scrolling through social media, texting, or playing video games. Keeping an eye on the clock or setting a timer to remind you when it is time to wind down for the night can help you set aside enough time for a thorough and effective routine.
5. Poor Sleep Environment
Is your room too loud, too warm, or too bright? Those can all interfere with sleep quality and quantity. Try to make your room quiet (or turn on some white noise or wear ear plugs), cool it down (under 68 degrees), and darken it with dark or blackout curtains if necessary.
6. Your Phone Is Near You
A ringing phone is obviously disruptive, and so is one that buzzes or rings every time you get a notification. A phone set to “silent” is a step better, but it can still be distracting, since people are likely to check their phones when they are nearby and on. Ideally, phones should be off and out of the bedroom. Otherwise, they should at least be on “silent” and placed out of reach.
7. Too Much Stress
Does your mind race when you are supposed to be sleeping? Do you fret about work, health, family, or finances? Managing stress better can help you sleep better. Strategies include letting go of what you cannot control, making a plan for what you can control, and doing some of the same things that may help you sleep better anyway: being physically active during the day and meditating, stretching, taking a bath, reading, or doing another relaxing activity before bed.
8. Indigestion Or Even Just Too Much Food Too Late
A heavy meal or evening snack too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Heartburn and indigestion are possible, but too much food can keep you up even without outright discomfort. Eating a lot may signal to your body that it is daytime and time to use up the energy you got from all that food. Instead, a smaller dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, and only a light snack if at all, can improve sleep.
9. Buzzed (caffeine)
Remember the coffee you drank to keep you awake all afternoon? The caffeine could still be working by bedtime. The effects can last 5 or more hours, so it is best to be aware of when you have your last dose. Caffeinated coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks may be the most common sources, but for sensitive people, chocolate can also keep you up. If you suspect that caffeine is the culprit that is preventing you from falling asleep quickly, you might want to avoid it after lunch.
Alcohol may make you feel tired, but it is known to interrupt sleep. If you are waking up groggy without knowing why, and you tend to have a glass or two of wine at dinner, you may want to try eliminating it for a few days to see if that helps.
Falling asleep faster feels great and is just as good for your health. Often, a few small changes in your daytime and bedtime routines can prevent you from lying awake at night. As a bonus, these changes are the same ones that can help with weight loss and blood sugar control, and Lark DPP is ready to coach you as you establish healthy habits to lower diabetes risk.