What to do if you can’t sleep?

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.

Some common causes to look out for include:

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 schedule, watching TV or eating from bed, exposure to blue light before bed, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, or prolonged naps.

5.   Regular traveling 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
  • Irritability
  • Slowed thinking
  • Reduced attention span
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor decision making

Tips to help you sleep better:

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.

  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
  • Avoid coffee later in the day
  • Try to sleep and wake at the same time consistently
  • Avoid irregular or long naps during the day
  • Avoid alcohol in the evenings
  • Optimize your bedroom environment, including temperature
  • Rule out a medical condition

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:

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  2. How To Sleep Better?
  3. 6 Best Sleep Inducing Teas To Drink At Bedtime
  4. Is Napping Good For You?
  5. Best Low Carb Snacks
  6. 6 Essential Nutrients You Need
  7. Benefits of Nature
  8. Foods Good For Skin
  9. How Much Fiber Per Day?
  10. Foods That Detox Your Body
  11. Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
  12. How To Boost Cortisol Levels Naturally?

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