5 Reasons You Might Be Having Trouble Sleeping
There are few things more valuable than a good night's sleep. Your overall health and well-being depend on it.
When you sleep, your body recharges itself and prepares for the next day by storing new information and ridding itself of toxins, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Sleep also gives the nerve cells in the brain time to communicate and reorganize so they can continue to function in a healthy way. And while the brain does all of that, the body releases important hormones and proteins and repairs cells to restore your energy.
Despite its importance, millions of Americans struggle regularly to get adequate sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 35 percent of American adults get fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night.
If you've been struggling to get that restful 7-9 hours of sleep every night, here are some potential reasons why.
1. What you're eating or drinking is interfering with your sleep.
Going to bed too full or still feeling hungry is a one-way ticket to a restless night. Studies have found maintaining a balanced diet can help improve your sleep. Be sure to give yourself a couple of hours between your last meal and the time you head to bed. Consuming nicotine or caffeine too close to bed can leave your mind racing and your body alert, making it difficult to fall asleep (or stay asleep). The stimulating effects of these substances can last well into the night. And even though alcohol might make you feel drowsy, its chemicals can mess up your sleep later in the night, according to the Mayo Clinic.
2. You're going to bed stressed out.
Feeling stressed or anxious can make it nearly impossible to calm your mind and fall asleep. If stress is getting in the way of your snooze, you should try to decompress before bed. Whether through journaling or making a to-do list for the day ahead or even taking a relaxing bath or reading a book—it's important to make an effort to clear your mind before bed. Meditation and deep breathing exercises right before bed may also put you in a better headspace to sleep.
3. Your sleep schedule is all out of whack.
Keeping an irregular sleep schedule can make it difficult to get quality rest when you need it most. Several things could be responsible for a bad sleep schedule including napping during the day or even having too much screen time right before bed. Studies have shown short cat naps ranging from 20-30 minutes may be effective in boosting energy throughout the day while long naps and late naps can make it much more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. The blue light emitted from electronic devices such as cell phones, TVs or laptops can leave you overstimulated, making it hard to keep a regular sleep schedule. One potential solution is using a blue light filter on your phone or setting aside the hour before you go to sleep to be technology-free. Doing so can help calm your mind and prepare it for sleep.
4. You worked out too late in the evening.
Setting aside a few minutes each day for physical activity—whether a run or a simple walk around the block—has been found to promote restful sleep at night. That being said, putting in some time at the gym too late in the day can leave you with too much energy to fall asleep. If you're having this problem, try to adjust your schedule so your last workout falls at least a couple of hours before you need to get to sleep.
5. You might have a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome are more common than you might think. Unfortunately, they also often go undiagnosed. If you make all the right choices to promote restful sleep at night and find yourself still unable to get adequate rest, don't hesitate to make a doctor's appointment. Your doctor will make sure that your lack of sleep isn't due to any other underlying health issue and may recommend a sleep study to get to the root of the problem. Sleep is essential to maintaining your health. Effective treatments are available for sleep disorders, so don't wait to ask for help.