In this day and age, it can sometimes feel like we are always on the go, always involved in the hustle-and-bustle of our adult lives, whether it be the commute to work, work itself, gym, house chores or errands. But within that hectic life, where it feels like we are multi-tasking every minute of the day, we look forward to going to sleep to rest our bodies as well as our minds, to reset for the next day. And then it comes to that coveted time and...you just can’t sleep. There are many reasons that you may not be sleeping and we are here to cover the 5 most common reasons below.
1. You had a bit too much to drink
We seem to believe that alcohol helps us sleep, but it has been found that it actually meddles with REM, which results in overall poorer quality sleep. Short-term effects of drinking alcohol are feeling sleepy and relaxed, but other effects of it are that it dehydrates the body and although you may fall to sleep easier, it only allows for a shallow and light sleep, which makes us feel more tired the next day. We should try to limit any liquids to three hours before we intend to hit the hay.
2. Your room isn’t dark enough
When you decide to go to bed, your bedroom shouldn’t have any lights on, especially any light coming from screens or electronic devices. Our brains, when exposed to light during the night, is tricked into thinking its time to wake up and reduces melatonin production, a hormone that causes sleepiness and lowers the body temperature. Anything from street lights, TV standby buttons, notification lights on your phone and digital alarm clocks could be the reasons you are not sleeping. Try switching the TV off at the mains and do not charge your phone in your bedroom. These small amounts of light disrupt the internal body clock. Turn off all of your screens within an hour of your bedtime and begin to wind down outside of your bed with a book or relaxing hobby in dim light.
3. Your room is too warm
People like to create a warm and cosy environment for sleep, however, a room that is too warm can cause you to wake up multiple times in the night, leading to a disrupted and broken sleep. Your body and brain like to cool down when you go to sleep, so if your room is too warm, it will disrupt the cooling-down process. Having a fan or opening your windows are good ideas to keep you cool and produce a consistent white noise- these will help you fall to sleep. Although you don’t want to be too cold as that can inhibit sleep as well.
4. There is caffeine still in your system
Caffeine has an average half-life of 5 hours, which means after 10 hours of drinking your caffeinated drink your body will still have one-quarter of the caffeine running through it. A lot of us drink more than one coffee a day, and many drink it later in the day. If this is you, try to drink it earlier in the day as possible. Caffeine can be found not only in coffee but also in fizzy drinks, tea, chocolate and some medications. Another idea could be to replace your later-in-the-day cup of coffee with something else that gives you that boost- exercise or being out in the sunlight.
5. You’re overwhelmed or wound up
Stress is the number one cause of sleep difficulty. Worries about work, family, finances or health can create feelings of anxiety which can cause difficulty in falling to sleep or even staying asleep. Ways to try to combat this are writing down any anxieties you have, any thoughts, or to-do lists, and do this before going to bed to help clear your mind. You could try meditating before bed or do some gentle yoga to relax your mind and body. If you have tried these things and you find yourself still lying in bed unable to fall to sleep, don’t just lie there worrying about things, get up and do something else that you find relaxing, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music in a dimly lit room.