Factors Affecting Sleep

Understanding the intricacies of factors that affect sleep is crucial to identify potential disruptors and pave the way for improved sleep hygiene. Let's delve deeper into the external and internal factors affecting sleep, along with lifestyle and cultural influences, and how they intertwine with our sleep patterns. 


External Factors Affecting Sleep


1. Lighting: Our bodies rely on environmental cues like light to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Bright lights, especially in the evening, can suppress melatonin production, delaying the body's readiness for sleep by tricking the internal clock. 

2. Sleep Environment: Comfort and a feeling of safety in the sleep environment are paramount for quality sleep. Changes in surroundings, like sleeping in a new place or an unfamiliar environment, can cause disturbances in falling asleep easily. 

3. Jet Lag and Shift-Based Work: Travelling across different time zones disrupts the body's circadian rhythm, causing jetlag. Similarly, shift-based work schedules with varying sleep timings can confuse the body clock, impacting the quality and consistency of sleep. 

4. Medications: Certain medications and substances, such as caffeine, nicotine, and some prescription drugs like antidepressants, can interfere with sleep by altering neurotransmitter activity or stimulating the nervous system, affecting sleep duration and quality. 

Factors affecting sleep


Internal Factors Affecting Sleep


1. Physical Discomfort: Body aches, muscle or joint pains, headaches, and other physical discomforts can hinder the ability to fall asleep or maintain a restful sleep throughout the night, leading to sleep disturbances. 

2. Stress and Anxiety: Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, or depression can trigger hyperarousal responses, keeping individuals awake or causing frequent awakenings during the night. These conditions may lead to an imbalance in sleep stages, resulting in increased REM sleep and reduced deep sleep.

3. Lifestyle and Cultural Influences 

Cultural norms and lifestyle choices significantly influence sleep patterns. Variances in work schedules, dietary habits, exercise routines, and societal pressures differ across cultures, impacting sleep timings and sleep quality. For instance, studies reveal variations in sleep duration and sleep timing among different regions globally, like the differences observed between Japanese, Spanish, and European sleep patterns.




Understanding these factors affecting sleep will empowers individuals to adopt strategies that promote better sleep. Incorporating sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, managing stress, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, can help mitigate the impact of these factors on sleep quality.

While some external and internal factors may be beyond our immediate control, cultivating healthy sleep habits plays a pivotal role in optimising sleep quality and overall well-being.



Keep exploring: Click on Healthy Sleep, Thing to do after suspecting sleep problems , and Factors affecting Sleep to read more articles 




I want to know about:*

I am over 18 years of age, have read and accepted ResMed’ s Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, am aware that my personal data will be processed for the purposes outlined in these documents.

Thanks for submitting the form.

Sleep Revitalizes your Mind, Body, & Heart

The body goes under many transformations, while it is in the state of rest during sleep. There are many essential functions that take place in the body such as tissue repair, memory and energy restoration, release of essential hormones, muscle relaxation, and others. While you are asleep, the brain releases indispensable hormones that promote tissue growth. This process helps your body rejuvenate from the daily hustle bustle. Moreover, tissue growth aids in the recovery from wounds or cuts. Sunita Kumar, Co-Director, Centre for Sleep Disorders, Loyola University Medical Centre, aptly remarks that during sleep the body produces more white blood cells, to fight countless bacteria and viruses1. The heart rate also registers a dip during sleep, which according to Ms. Kumar, strengthens the heart as it is at rest with lowered activity. Moreover, a good night’s sleep also reduces the chances of getting afflicted with heart diseases.

Good Sleep = Sharp Memory

Sleep is a time, when becomes sharp and strong. Sleep quantity and quality play a fundamental role in determining what one remembers and what one doesnt. Therefore, development of long-term memory (LTM) from short-term memory (STM) happens during sleep.  Scientific researches state that the brain follows a different mechanism for storing memories through the hippocampus and neo-cortex areas. Hippocampus helps you to remember your life experiences (childhood memories), while the neo-cortex is responsible for remembering the concepts you learn (name of a color). Communications and sync between the two, helps in learning new data and updating old ones.

Sleep Steers Hormonal Hunger

Sleep not only affects your energy levels and mental functions, but also regulates your body weight. Improper sleep is related to the increasing cases of obesity, worldwide2. Many hormones which regulate the feeling of hunger (ghrelin) and signal the feeling of being full (leptin), are all influenced by the quality of your sleep.  Leptin: This is also known as satiety hormone, which is produced by the fat cells of the body. It prevents overeating by sending signals to the brain that the body does not require more food, as there is enough to fuel the body.  Ghrelin: This hunger hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which signifies the body that there is need for food. This hormone rises in the body, when you feel hungry and decreases when you have consumed some food.  Studies show that people who have disrupted patterns of sleep - have larger appetite, because of higher ghrelin secretion and lowered secretion of leptin. This imbalance in the secretion of these hormones is a result of improper sleep patterns3.