Are you losing sleep over losing sleep? So are we. And like the other 70 million Americans burdened by bedtime bothers, we’re ready to put these problems to rest once and for all.
Not getting enough sleep – or being unable to fall asleep – affects every other waking moment of your life.
Your physical and mental well-being and success depend upon a good night’s rest.
Whether you’re unsure about why you’re suffering from sleepy-time struggles or you know exactly what is disrupting your dreams, we have a few tips to help turn things around.
The following are four reasons you’re not sleeping and what you can do about it.
Struggle With Stress, Anxiety, or Depression is Keeping You Awake
We’ve all been there – lying in bed, tossing and turning, or staring at the ceiling, utterly exhausted and yet wide awake as our minds race.
Stress, worry, fear; it’s not surprising that these feelings creep up when we’re in bed, undistracted and occupied with nothing but our thoughts.
Anxiety can be chronic, of course, but seemingly loves to makes its grandest appearance right before we hope to fall asleep.
A catch 22 if there ever was one, sleeping problems are well-known symptoms of anxiety, anxiety will keep you awake, and trying to get through a day when you’re wiped out will lead to even more anxiety. The exhaustion and fatigue resulting from our anxiety episodes cause even more anxiety, mood shifts, and possibly depression.
An anxious mind can also alter sleep cycles and negatively affect the sleep phase of the REM (rapid eye movement).
Perhaps most frustrating are the nights when we are anxious about not falling asleep, thus creating a prophetic, cyclical effect.
Chronic Pain Won’t Let You Get Comfy Enough to Sleep
A solid night of sleep is hard to come by when you’re experiencing chronic pain.
It’s hard to fall asleep and stay asleep when persistent pain makes positions uncomfortable and relaxation challenging to achieve fully.
Chronic pain can cause sleep loss, disruption, and change in sleeping patterns.
As is seen with many sleep conditions and problems, chronic pain can then be exacerbated by the sleeping deprivation they create, causing an endless chain of reactions.
Sleeplessness caused by pain can have patients waking more often in the night, experiencing shorter sleep durations, and getting lower quality sleep.
You Suffer From a Sleep Disorder
If sleep disruption has become a nightly occurrence, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.
The consistent, repetitive nature of sleeping patterns, behaviors, or habits that affect your health and well-being sets sleeping disorders apart from the occasional restless night.
Suppose you’re concerned about having a sleeping disorder. In that case, the best thing you can do is with a trusted medical professional to discuss your concerns and get some answers – and avoid stressing even more about the unknowns and what-ifs.
Common sleeping disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and parasomnias, to name a few.
Simply put, insomnia occurs when one has difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This sleeping disorder affects about one in every four Americans each year.
Insomnia can cause depression, irritation, weight gain, lack of motivation, and concentration deficits, and it may impact day-to-day functions and range from mild to severe.
Insomnia can also cause patients to turn to sleep aids such as drowsiness-inducing medication or alcohol, which can have negative repercussions on their own.
Non-prescription medication-induced sleep may not be as adequate or of the same quality as naturally-induced sleep.
Prescription medications, however, are one of the treatment options a medical professional may suggest, along with counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and change in routine.
Sleep apnea happens when someone sleeping experiences a disruption of oxygen intake. Patients can often be heard gasping, snorting, or snoring.
Sleep apnea can be caused by preexisting conditions, obstructed airflow, or internal biological communication.
No matter the reason, sleep apnea can cause drowsiness, memory impairment, and impacted quality of life as sleep is disturbed or refrains from being deep.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) causes unpleasant and sometimes painful sensations in your legs.
Patients experiencing RLS may report an itching, throbbing, creeping, aching, or tingling feeling in their legs and sometimes feel the overwhelming urge to move them.
It’s unknown what causes RLS, but we know it can impact sleep, as it tends to surface when patients’ bodies are relaxed or asleep.
Awakening in the night as your body kicks or moves to relieve the unwanted sensations can cause problems for those who suffer from RLS and their sleeping partners.
Parasomnia constitutes behavioral abnormalities that occur while asleep.
Typical examples include:
- Sleepwalking and talking
- Nightmares and night terrors
- Wetting the bed
- Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
Other parasomnias include behaviors such as eating, texting, or even driving.
Parasomnias can result from various causes and are best examined with the individually.
Your Circadian Rhythm is Off
Your circadian rhythm (the internal and biological clock that regulates bodily functions) operates on a 24-hour schedule.
Our circadian rhythm regulates hormone production by aligning with naturally-occurring light.
Using clues from the time of day and the amount of lightness or darkness present, your body will release hormones, change your body temperature, and modify your metabolism to alert your brain that it’s time for sleep.
When your internal clock is altered, difficulty becoming tired, falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up may arise.
A couple of factors can cause circadian clock confusion. Traveling, staying up later than usual, waking up earlier or later than expected, or changes in your daily and nightly routines can cause circadian shifts.
Because of our circadian rhythm’s susceptibility to light changes and patterns, the increasing use of artificial lights is causing our bodies to think that it’s still daytime. This is particularly true of short wave blue light from electronic devices such as televisions, computers and cell phones.
The photoreceptors in our eyes calculate blue light as daylight and send messages to our brain that our clock needs adjusting.
When our brain thinks it’s light out, it tells our circadian rhythm it’s not time for bed yet, and our bodies don’t release the melatonin we need to drift away.
What Can I Do For a Better Night’s Sleep?
Not being able to fall asleep has to do with the mind and body. So here are some tips for turning in and getting a good night’s sleep.
Set Your Clock
It’s called ‘bedtime’ for a reason, and as much as our inner child might want to resist, developing a bedtime and sticking to it can help reset your circadian rhythm.
Alignment of your circadian rhythm will encourage melatonin release and restfulness.
Achieving restfulness can help ward off stress and anxiety and less stress can mitigate difficulty in falling asleep the next night.
While it might seem trivial, establishing when it’s time to wind down will influence every aspect of your sleep.
Knowing what we do about our circadian rhythm’s sensitivity to light, sleeping in a dark and cool room is an excellent way to foster a sleepy state of mind.
When seeking sleep, turning off our electronic devices (c’mon, you knew where this was going) is also essential.
Experts suggest that we turn off those devices at least an hour before heading to bed. Better yet – don’t even have them in the bedroom.
Eat and Drink
Refrain from caffeine use later in the day and avoid tobacco and alcohol use before bed.
Caffeine can keep you up for far longer than intended, and while alcohol might seem like a sleep aid, helping you drift right off, it can affect your quality of sleep and make you more tired the next day.
Drinking less water and eating smaller meals in the evening and before bedtime will help minimize midnight bathroom breaks and allow you to sleep better.
Choose Natural Pain Prevention, Stress Relievers, and Sleep Aids
Natural pain and stress relievers and sleep formulas could help offset some of the symptoms that lead to sleeplessness.
The use of cannabidiol (CBD) is a prime choice for patients looking to curb pain, ease anxiety, and fall asleep organically.
CBD for pain relief, anxiety, and sleeplessness operates similarly to our circadian rhythm.
CBD enters and interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system that regulates homeostasis.
Homeostasis is the state of our internal balance. Regulating homeostasis means regulating our moods, appetite, sleep, and pain responses.
We communicate with our brain and central nervous system by introducing CBD into our system and modifying anatomical responses.
Incorporating CBD into your nightly routine can help round out your rhythm and subdue sleeplessness symptoms while fostering relaxation.
We’re all dreaming of a solid night of sleep. Knowing what’s taken you from snooze to lose and how to fix it will have you ready for bed.