10 Reasons Why You Can't Sleep And How To Fix Them

Having trouble sleeping?  Below are 10 of the most common reasons why with suggestions on how to correct them.


1. Your room isn’t dark enough.

Ideally, your bedroom shouldn’t have any lights on, especially light emitted from a TV or any electronic device. When

your eyes are exposed to light during the night, your brain is tricked into thinking it’s time to wake up and reduces the

production of melatonin, a hormone released by your pineal gland that causes sleepiness and lowers body temperature.

Light emitted by electronic devices is especially troublesome because it mimics sunlight.


2. Exercising too late.

If you exercise within three hours of trying to sleep, you’ll overstimulate your metabolism

and raise your heart rate causing restlessness and frequent awakenings throughout the

night.  Try to exercise in the morning or no later than mid to late afternoon, which will result

in sounder sleep.


3. Drinking alcohol too late.

We tend to think of alcohol as a sleep inducer, but it actually interferes with REM sleep, causing

you to feel more tired the next morning.  Granted, you may feel sleepy after you drink it, but that’s

a short-term effect.  Here’s a great video at WebMD about alcohol and sleep.


4. Room temperature too warm.

Your body and brain wants to cool down when you sleep, but if your room is

too warm you’ll thwart the cool-down process.  Having a fan in your room is a

good idea because it will keep you cool and produce a consistent level of white

noise that will help you fall asleep. Just don’t get too cold, because that will disrupt

sleep as well. (You can also try cooling your brain.)


5. Caffeine still in your system.

The average half-life of caffeine is 5 hours, which means that you still have three-quarters

of the first dose of caffeine rolling around in your system 10 hours after you drink it.  Most

of us drink more than one cup of coffee, and many of us drink it late in the day.  If you’re

going to drink coffee, drink it early.


6. Clockwatching.

Though it’s hard not to do, don’t look at your clock when you wake up during the night. In

fact, it’s best to turn it around so it’s not facing you.  When you habitually clockwatch, you’re

training  your circadian rhythms the wrong way, and before long you’ll find yourself waking

up at exactly 3:15 every night.


7. Getting up to watch TV until you’re sleepy.

This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, watching TV stimulates brain activity, which is

the exact opposite of what you want to happen if your goal is to sleep soundly. Second, the

light emitted from the TV is telling your brain to wake up.


8. Trying to problem-solve in the middle of the night.

All of us wake up at times during the night, and the first thing that pops into our heads is a big

problem we’re worried about.  The best thing you can do is stop yourself from going there and

redirect your thoughts to something less stressful. If you get caught up on the worry treadmill,

you’ll stay awake much longer.


9. Eating protein too close to bedtime.

Protein requires a lot of energy to digest, and that keeps your digestive system churning away

while you’re trying to sleep — bad combination.  Better to have a light carbohydrate snack.


10.  Smoking before bedtime.

Smokers equate smoking with relaxing, but that’s a neurochemical trick. In truth, nicotine is

a stimulant.  When you smoke before trying to sleep, you can expect to wake up several times

throughout the night; much as you would if you drank a cup of coffee.

What to do When You Can't Sleep

People with insomnia tend to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night, or

they wake up too early in the morning. There are ways to help with each of these patterns:

Tips for falling asleep

• Carve out at least 30 minutes of wind-down time before bed in which you do something

relaxing, such as read a book. Dim the lights in the house slightly for an hour or so before


• Disconnect from close-range electronic devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets, as

the light from their screens can alert the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.

• In order to calm your mind, do a breathing or relaxation exercise.

• If you get into bed and cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and return to another space

in the house to do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music. Lying in bed awake

can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. Instead, you

want your bed to conjure sleepy thoughts and feelings only.

• Wake up at the same time every day. Even if you have a hard time falling asleep and feel tired

in the morning, try to get up at the same time (weekends included). This can help adjust your body's

clock and aid in falling asleep at night.

Tips for getting back to sleep at night

• Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can promote wakeups

during the night.

• Make sure your sleep environment is quiet and dark throughout the night. Use darkening shades to block

streetlights and early morning light, and a fan or noise machine to block sounds.

• Practice a simple breathing exercise.

• If you are unable to fall back asleep for 20 minutes do not lay in bed and worry about not sleeping, get up and

   go to a space in the house to do a relaxing activity, like reading, with dim light.

Tips for avoiding waking up too early

• Make sure your sleep environment is quiet and dark throughout the night. Use darkening shades to block

  streetlights and early morning light. Consider earplugs or a fan or noise machine to block sounds.

• Practice a simple breathing exercise.


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