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What's affecting my sleep?

There are many things that affect your sleep that you may not know about


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Are you struggling to get shut-eye every night? There are many things that can negatively affect your sleep and if you try to change your habits around sleep, you’re much more likely to get better quality snoozing time at night. Here are some things to think about or even cut out to help improve your sleep.

Why can't I sleep at night? 

Poor sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is your routine around bedtime that helps you get to sleep. Certain things such as eating a large meal before bed or drinking alcohol or caffeine can all negatively impact your sleep. Similarly, things such as watching tv late a night or spending a lot of time on your phone can negatively impact your sleep also. Good sleep hygiene can look different to different people, but having time to wind down before trying to go to sleep in a calm space is often a good place to start. 

Caffeine

This has a major impact on your sleep. Caffeine is in coffee, but it’s also in tea, fizzy drinks and other things you may not realise. Try to avoid any high-caffeine drinks after 2pm to help you get a better sleep at night.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can make you feel drowsy and tired, but it can also affect your sleep negatively. If you’re drinking alcohol, it is best to stop at least a few hours before going to bed and try to drink a lot of water before falling asleep.

Smoking

Smoking stimulates your brain making it harder to get to sleep. If you’re a smoker, try not to smoke in the hours immediately before going to bed.

Eating

Eating late and at inconsistent times isn’t good for your sleep, and it is better to try to eat earlier and at the same time every day. If this is not possible for you due to a late schedule, try to prioritise food that won't feel to heavy in your stomach before being to bed. Read our article on eating well as a shift worker to find options that might work for you. 

Heat

Cooler temperatures are better for sleep, so if your room is too hot, you’ll probably have a hard time getting to sleep. If it’s too warm, leave the heating off and make sure your duvet is light enough, especially during the summer months. 

Screentime

Did you know that staring at laptop, phones or TV stimulates your eyes and brains? This makes it much harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid staring at screens for the hour before you go to bed.

Anxiety and stress

If you’re tossing and turning worrying all night, you’ll struggle to get to sleep. Anxiety and stress are two of the biggest things that can eat into our sleep. Try to do relaxing activities before going to bed, such as listening to music, relaxation exercises or mindfulness. At times worrying thoughts may come to mind – write it down and come back to it in the morning. Learn more about managing your stress.

Pain

Pain is a well known sleep enemy. Simply put, if you’re in pain you won’t be able to sleep well. It’s best to contact your doctor if you have unexplained or untreated pain, as they will likely be able to offer you treatment.

Medications

Some medicines can stimulate you and interfere with your sleep. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about this if you think it may be impacting your sleep.

Lack of sunlight/daylight

Yes, there’s not a whole lot of sunshine here in Ireland. We’ll admit that. However getting daylight of any kind is important to regulate the sleep/wake cycle – in other words if you do not get enough sunshine/daylight, you may have trouble sleeping.

Shift work

Shift work can really mess with your sleeping as the body ends up totally confused about what time is day and what time is night. Learn more about sleeping when you work irregular hours.

Want to learn more about sleep? Read our article on 10 great ways to improve your sleep.

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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Published April 26th2015
Last updated July 9th2018
Tags sleep insomnia mental health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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