We’ve all been there – tossing and turning in bed, staring at the ceiling and counting imaginary sheep, desperately trying to coax our minds to sleep. Difficulty sleeping is a common struggle for many, and while the reasons for this can vary widely, there are also some likely culprits that may be keeping you wide awake at night. Want to learn more? Let’s dive into the mystery of why you just can’t seem to catch some Zzzs:
Stress, Anxiety & Overthinking
The hustle and bustle of daily life can take a toll on our mental well-being, and bedtime seems to be the perfect moment for our brains to replay all the worries and stresses of the day. And when our thoughts begin to race and the stress starts to get to us, it can be difficult to wind down. Calm your mind before bedtime with relaxation techniques like deep breathing. Keep a bedside journal to jot down thoughts, unloading your mind and easing into restful sleep.
Screen Time Before Bed
We’re all guilty of looking at our phones too much before we go to bed, right? It’s all too easy to fall into a digital rabbit hole of endless scrolling or late-night binge-watching. But did you know that doing this disrupts our body’s natural circadian rhythm? It over stimulates our brains and the artificial blue light emitted by these screens interferes with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. That’s why experts advise that you stop looking at your phones at least an hour before bed, or at the very least, turn down your screen’s brightness and make it black and white to make it less stimulating.
Unresolved Emotional Issues
Think back to the last time you had trouble sleeping. Was there a heavy feeling in your chest that had you tossing and turning all night? Unresolved emotional issues can leave your mind feeling too hung up to go to sleep, so it’s important to seek support and talk to someone about the emotional baggage you may be carrying, especially if it’s seriously interfering with your sleep.
Poor Bedtime Rituals
What do you do to get ready for bed? For most people, the answer is usually something like washing their face or brushing their teeth. But because our bodies love routine, it’s important to create bedtime rituals to signal to ourselves that it’s time to wind down and help us fall asleep faster. So find something soothing to do — like gentle yoga, reading a physical book, or listening to a podcast — and make a bedtime ritual that works best for you.
Lack of Exposure to Natural Light
Another reason why you struggle to sleep may be because of a lack of exposure to natural light. Do you spend most of your day indoors or in dimly lit places? Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of natural sunlight daily to regulate your body’s internal clock and promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Avoid sleeping in too much during the day, too, as this can make it harder for your body to distinguish between night and day.
Too Much Caffeine
American filmmaker David Lynch once said, “Even a bad cup of coffee is better than no coffee.” And while most of us would probably agree, did you know that it may be doing more harm than good to our sleep? Coffee is a fantastic pick-me-up in the morning, but it stays in our system for 6-10 hours, hindering our ability to fall asleep. So, as you savor that morning brew, avoid drinking another cup 6 hours before bedtime to ensure a better night’s sleep. Or opt for decaf instead to satisfy your late-night cravings without any sleep-disrupting side effects.
Understanding the reasons behind your sleepless nights is the first step towards banishing them. So, which of these reasons is keeping you awake at night? Got any other insightful tips you’d like to share in the comments down below?
- Harvard Medical School (2021 Aug 13). “8 reasons why you’re not sleeping.” Harvard Heatlth Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/8-reasons-why-youre-not-sleeping
- Mayo Clinic. (2024 Jan 16). “Insomnia: Overview.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
- Ullman, M. (2023 Mar 31). “Why Can’t I Sleep?—Why You’re Not Sleeping and How to Get More Rest.” VeryWell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/reasons-for-not-sleeping-well-and-how-to-fix-350760
- Risher, B. (2023 Jul 14). “Why Am I So Tired, but Can’t Sleep?” Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/tired-but-cant-sleep