A good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy life. However, sleep disturbance affects more people than you can imagine. For this reason, it is important to know what to do when you can’t sleep.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. This may present in different ways, including trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, causing you to wake up several times throughout the night.
Unfortunately, a lack of sleep may promote poor health and increase your risk of various health conditions. This is why it’s always essential to understand the cause of lack of sleep to address it accordingly.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, different factors could contribute.
This article takes you through the various causes of poor sleep and what you can do to sleep better, thus promoting good health.
Reasons why you’re not sleeping well:
Understanding why you are experiencing trouble sleeping can help you make the necessary changes, including visiting your doctor if need be. This can, as a result, prevent both the long-term and short-term dangers of inadequate sleep.
1. Too much caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, and drinking it in the evenings or right before bed may interfere with your sleep quality.
It has a half-life of about 5-6 hours. That means it takes 5-6 hours for half the amount of caffeine you take to be processed and eliminated from the body. Thus, by drinking coffee late in the evening, high levels of caffeine will still be in your system during your sleep hours, consequently interfering with sleep.
2. Issues with room temperature
Room temperature is an environmental factor that can greatly contribute to the comfort and quality of your sleep.
According to a 2012 study, the temperature in the room you’re sleeping in plays an important role in achieving undisturbed sleep throughout the night.
For instance, a very hot room can cause more frequent awakenings throughout the night, thus interfering with the deep restorative sleep. One study looking at different survey respondents found that sleeping in the hot summer months resulted in poor sleep. This is due to the inability of the body to cool itself and the interference of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
When asleep, your brain moves through different phases, one of which is REM. This starts within the first 90 minutes of falling asleep and cycles every 90 minutes. It’s a state of deep sleep with an increase in brain activity. It’s often characterized by rapid eye movements, changes in body temperature, and fast and irregular breathing, among others. This is also the phase where you are likely to experience dreams.
The REM phase of sleep is beneficial to memory, mood, and learning, and a lack of it may result in physical and mental issues. A lack of REM sleep may also reduce coping skills, increase the risk of experiencing migraines, and increase obesity.
A cool but not cold sleeping environment of about 65°F (18.3°C) is ideal to ensure your brain goes through all the essential phases of sleep with no disruption.
3. Too much stress
Stress is a common cause of sleep deprivation. Research shows that stressful events like losing a loved one, divorce, concerns about work, finances, health, or family may make it difficult to fall asleep, leading to temporary amnesia.
4. Poor sleep habits
These may include irregular bedtime schedules, watching TV or eating from bed, exposure to blue light before bed, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, or prolonged naps.
5. Regular travel or inconsistent work schedule
Your circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that guides your sleep-wake cycle. Suppose you are always traveling, working late, waking up early, or have a job schedule that keeps changing. In that case, it can interfere with your circadian rhythm, metabolism, and temperature regulation, making it difficult to sleep well at night.
6. It could be a sleep disorder
If your lack of sleep is chronic and you don’t seem to grasp what’s happening, you could be having a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. This is a common condition that briefly stops one from breathing due to upper airway obstruction. As a result, blood oxygen levels drop, heart rate increases, and sleep is disrupted since one has to wake up so they can breathe.
If you suspect sleep apnea as your cause of lack of sleep, see a doctor.
Other common sleep disorders include restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and narcolepsy.
7. Alcohol intake before bedtime
While alcohol intake may make you feel drowsy, it does interfere with your circadian rhythm, thus affecting your normal sleep pattern.
One study found that moderate alcohol intake reduced sleep quality by 24 percent, while excessive consumption reduced sleep quality by about 39.2 percent.
Effects of sleep deprivation:
If most of your nights involve tossing in bed with no quality sleep, you may experience some of these short and long-term effects.
- Memory issues
- Mood changes
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Low sex drive
- Thinking and concentration difficulties
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Slowed thinking
- Reduced attention span
- Lack of energy
- Poor decision making
What to do if You Can’t Sleep
While some people may easily experience good quality sleep, some may require extra effort. Here are the things you can do to help you sleep better.
1. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
A study published in Scientific Reports suggests that exposure to blue light in the evening can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. This is because, blue light stimulates the retina, which can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, causing problems such as insomnia.
Blue light is also known to suppress the production of melatonin, which is responsible for helping us fall asleep. The more blue light our eyes are exposed to, the less melatonin we produce. The study found that people who watched TV or used electronic devices in the evening were more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who didn’t.
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try limiting your screen time in the evening and avoid using electronics close to bedtime.
2. Avoid coffee later in the day
Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. A recent study found that people who drink coffee before bedtime have more trouble falling asleep and have a harder time staying asleep.
Besides, coffee is a stimulant, which means it can increase anxiety and stress levels. When caffeine is ingested late in the evening, it has a stronger effect on the body and raises blood pressure and heart rate. This combination can lead to increased anxiety and stress throughout the night, which can disrupt your sleep cycle and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Coffee is also known to interfere with sleep patterns. When you drink coffee late in the evening, it enters your bloodstream almost immediately – this means that it will match your brain quickly. This rapid influx of caffeine can disrupt normal sleep cycles by making it difficult to fall asleep and wake up naturally in the morning. In addition, caffeine also inhibits the production of melatonin, which is responsible for regulating our sleep cycles. What Teas Help You Sleep Better?
3. Try to sleep and wake at the same time consistently
One option is to try to sleep and wake at the same time consistently. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm and improve your overall sleep quality.
There are a few reasons why it’s important for people to sleep and wake up at the same time every night. First, sleeping at the same time helps regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm. This can help you get a good night’s sleep and stay healthy overall.
Second, sleeping at the same time can help you avoid getting stuck in a cycle of insomnia. If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, trying to sleep and wake at different times each day may not help.
Finally, sleeping at the same time can improve your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
4. Avoid irregular or long naps during the day
Short naps during the day can help keep your body running smoothly, but long naps can interrupt the natural sleep cycle and cause a variety of problems like interfering with your ability to get a good night’s sleep later in the night. If you take a 90-minute nap, for example, you might not be able to fall asleep until 11 PM or later.
Naps work best when taken in shorter bursts (10-20 minutes) and combined with regular bedtime habits.
5. Avoid alcohol in the evenings
There is a strong link between alcohol and sleep, with people who drink alcohol often reporting poorer sleep quality. In fact, one study found that people who drink alcohol in the evening are more likely to have problems sleeping than those who don’t drink at all. Researchers have confirmed this link by investigating the effects of alcohol on sleep in mice.
The study found that mice who drank alcohol had problems sleeping and were less able to regulate their body temperature. They also showed signs of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can affect sleep. The researchers believe that these effects may be due to the way alcohol impacts the release of hormones in the brain.
So if you want to get a good night’s sleep, avoid drinking alcohol and alcoholic beverages in the evening. It might not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s definitely worth it! The Dangers Of Drinking Alcohol.
6. Exercise every day
Exercise has been linked to better sleep since the dawn of time. This is because exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Furthermore, when you exercise, muscle cells produce growth hormones, which also impact our sleep patterns. All of these effects work together to make exercise a powerful ally in improving your sleep quality.
Effective exercises to try include:
1. Aerobic exercise: This type of exercise helps to increase your heart rate and improve your overall cardiovascular health. It also helps to improve blood flow to the brain and aids in the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that have pain-relieving properties. Aerobic exercise can be done in a variety of ways, including walking, running, biking, swimming, and using an elliptical trainer.
2. Weightlifting: This type of exercise helps to improve muscle strength and tone, which can help to reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. Weightlifting can be performed using a variety of weights, including barbells and dumbbells.
So if you want to get the most out of your slumber, start incorporating some regular exercise into your routine!
7. Avoid large meals before bedtime
Large meals before bedtime can lead to poor sleep quality. According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, people who had a large meal before bedtime experienced poorer sleep quality compared to those who ate a smaller meal or nothing at all. The study found that participants who had a large meal before bedtime had a less restful sleep and woke up more often throughout the night.
The researchers speculate that this imbalance in energy consumption may lead to increased levels of cortisol, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Additionally, eating large meals before bedtime might promote weight gain and obesity in the long term. Therefore, if you want to improve your sleep quality and health in general, it’s recommended that you avoid eating large meals before bedtime. See 18:6 Intermittent Fasting
Final thoughts: what to do if you can’t sleep?
Inability to sleep well at night is a common condition that could occur for different reasons, including high-stress levels, poor room temperature, poor sleep habits, sleep disorder, or alcohol consumption before bedtime. Likewise, avoiding these triggers can tremendously improve your sleep quality.
It’s always essential to address your cause of poor sleep as a lack of good quality sleep may lower your immunity and increase the risk of developing various health conditions.
And if your problem is medically related, it’s important to seek medical attention for proper management.
Other related articles:
- Top 10 Benefits Of Getting Enough Sleep
- How To Sleep Better?
- Is Napping Good For You?
- Best Low Carb Snacks
- 6 Essential Nutrients You Need
- Benefits of Nature
- Foods Good For Skin
- How Much Fiber Per Day?
- Foods That Detox Your Body
- Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
- How To Boost Cortisol Levels Naturally?
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Speaking of bedroom environment optimization, it seems like you never mentioned anything about air quality. Although, this can significantly affect how quickly you fall asleep.
To ensure clean air in your bedroom, you can:
1. Ventilate the room 5 minutes before bedtime.
2. Add some indoor plants (they are natural air purifiers). But make sure you are not allergic to them.
3. If you have an air conditioner in your bedroom, clean its filters regularly. Dirty filters are often the cause of poor indoor air quality.
Thank you for your input, yes that’s so important to keep the windows cracked to let in the fresh air. I appreciate your feedback.
Great information thank you for sharing these.