There are several factors that can interfere with healthy sleep at night. These factors can both defined as external or internal. Knowing these factors in detail can certainly help you eliminate some of them from your daily life.
External factors that affect your sleep:
- Lighting: Our body clock gets adjusted according to the changes we observe in our environment. Therefore, it automatically starts to wind down as the brightness levels start to decrease. Bright lights can trick the body clock to assume that it is still day. This makes the body clock to delay sleep timing.
- Sleep environment: Environmental factors can affect your sleep. These include the feeling of safety at the place of your sleep, and how comfortable the bed is. Most people find it difficult to fall asleep, when they move to, or visit a new place.
- Jetlag: As earlier explained, the body clock might suffer if there are changes in exposure to light to the eyes. Jetlag also has the same effect on the body. It takes time to adjust to different time zones, thus disturbing our sleep timings.
- Shift-based work: Shift-based work affects the sleep quality the same way as jetlag. This is because the body clock is not able to work properly. Variations in the sleep timings every other week or month confuses the body’s clock, and this results in bad sleep.
Medication: Many chemicals like such as caffeine and nicotine disturb the sleep quality. Many medications like anti-depressants also have some chemicals which interfere with the healthy course of sleeping.
Internal factors that affect your sleep:
- Body aches or other pains: Certain pains like muscle or joint pain, or even headaches can keep you awake at night. These conditions bring discomfort to a person, which makes it difficult to fall or remain asleep for long.
- Anxiety or stress: Our bodies are built in such a manner that they respond to stressful or dangerous situations by remaining awake. Same happens in during stress, depression or anxiety, where the person finds it difficult to get a complete sleep at night. Most of the times in such cases, a person gets more REM sleep than deep sleep.1
Lifestyle and cultural influences on sleep
Recent studies have proved that cultural differences among different societies can affect sleep timings and quality. Reports also state that there are differences in sleep timings in countries like Japan and Spain. According to this study, the Japanese get the least amount of sleep with just 6.2 hours of every night. ON the other hand, Spanish people falls asleep later compared to Japan, but they also wake up much later than most other countries.2
The same study also showed that Northern Europeans go to bed early and wake up earlier, compared to Southern Europeans.3 The lifestyle changes that affect sleep patterns and the quality of sleep can include your work timings, eating habits, exercise etc. Moreover, odd working hours or family pressure can result in the lack of quality sleep.