Internal and External Factors that Affect Sleep


We have all been there. We are unable to sleep but are not sure why. Is it something we eat or drink? Is there any way we can combat the sleepy feeling? This article might have the answers you are looking for. Many factors affect the way we sleep, both external and internal. Here is what you need to know about how you do/ do not sleep.

External Factors That Affect Sleep

  • Caffeine

Caffeine affects our sleep. Our bodies produce a chemical called adenosine which helps combat sleepiness. However, caffeine messes with this chemical.

Caffeine from green and black tea, coffee, and soda all affect our sleep patterns. I personally enjoy a cup of tea in the morning, and I will sometimes drink tea during the day, but I make sure to drink water during dinner and before I go to sleep.

A good rule of thumb for all you caffeinated beverage drinkers out there: If you do drink tea or coffee, then try decaf before bed or drink water before sleeping.

  • Alcohol

While alcohol has been known to help you sleep, it can also cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Sleep apnea is also affected by the consumption of alcohol. As with caffeine, reduce your consumption before going to sleep.

  • Light

Light can affect the way we sleep. Our bodies, or more specifically, our eyes use light to know when it is time to sleep or time to be awake.

However, if we have artificial lights on while we sleep, our eyes cannot adjust, thereby causing us to be awake during the night. If you do need a light on at night, a nightlight in the hallway would be your best bet.

  • Smoking

Cigarettes, cigars, and vape machines all contain nicotine, that addictive chemical in these and other products. Nicotine is a stimulant that acts like caffeine, causing you to stay awake when you want to catch some shut-eye. Either quit or do not smoke an hour before bed, and your sleep will improve.

  • Jet lag or changes in work schedule

Flying from one end of the country to the other messes with our internal clock, causing jet lag. Letís say you live on the east coast in Florida, and you usually go to bed around nine. However, you have a business meeting in Las Vegas, and you had to fly out to the meeting.

Vegas is two hours later than Florida and so bed around nine in Vegas is eleven in your home state. The feeling of jet lag affects your sleep, making it hard for you to sleep.

Changes in your work schedule also affect sleep.Say that you are used to working the afternoon shift at work but are called into work the night shift, or graveyard shift instead of your usual shift. This messes with your internal clock and affects your sleep.

  • Sleep environment

Much like how our outside environment has a huge influence on our health and wellness, so does the environment in our bedrooms.Not only does the light in our bedrooms affect our sleep, but so does noise, room temperature, and electronics such as televisions.

Some people sleep better when the room is colder while others prefer a much warmer temp.

Soothing noises, usually created by white-noise machines, can help us sleep but loud noises disturb our sleep.Having a television or a laptop computer in the bedroom can affect sleep.

Watching TV or doing things on the laptop while in bed keeps us awake and reduces our chances of a good nightís sleep. Turning the TV off or shutting down the computer before bed will help reduce the chances of wakefulness.

Internal Factors That Affect Sleep

  • Body Temperature

Body temperature has a lot to do with how we sleep. If our body temperature is too high or too low, we cannot sleep. Taking a bath an hour/hour and a half before bed helps to reduce our bodyís temp, allowing us to sleep.

There are many bed cooler systems out there to regulate your body temperature while you sleep. These systems can be used with your mattress or even your comforters and bedding. You can use these systems to help you find your ideal sleep temperature, and sleep comfortably.

  • Medical Conditions

Whether we suffer from chronic pain or any sort of mental disorder such as depression or stress, all these can affect your sleep. Pain can happen at any time in the night, jarring you awake and commanding all of your attention. Pain medications can help, but sometimes they do not start working until thirty minutes to an hour later.

How you combat pain is different from what others do to relieve their pain. Just find the right method for you and make it work. Stress also affects how you sleep. Stress can keep you up all hours in the night. Reducing stress or anxiety helps you to sleepbetter.

Exercising before bed can help relieve stress or even reading a book before bed can help as well. Eating a healthy diet helps reduce stress too.

  • Snoring

Snoring can affect sleep. If you or your spouse snore, it can jar you or them awake if the snoring is loud. If you sleep alone and snore, sometimes you will wake yourself up if you snore too loudly. Breathing strips can help reduce snoring.

Being aware of what is causing your sleep deprivation/apnea will help you find ways to fix the problem and allow you to adjust your lifestyle, sleeping area, and any other areas you feel need to be changed.