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7 Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep and Ways to Fall Asleep Fast

A good night’s sleep is essential to our happiness and wellbeing, but unfortunately it’s not always easy to get enough shut eye every single night. Sometimes, you are not able to sleep because of stressful life events happening that cause your mind to race. Other times, your sleep environment may not be properly set up for you to get a good night’s rest.

If you have had a prolonged period of not getting enough sleep, you may even be suffering from an underlying sleep disorder. Our sleep quality is heavily influenced by our mental and physical environments, but the good news is that there are many ways to take back control of these environments to get better sleep, starting with your bedroom and sleeping on a high quality, supportive mattress.

Why Can’t I Sleep?

Let’s explore seven reasons why you might suffer from a lack of sleep, so you can tackle the root cause behind your insomnia symptoms and get back on a healthier sleep cycle. We’ll then discuss ten strategies on how to sleep better and how to fall asleep faster when you find yourself lying awake at night. Read on for some scientifically backed tips on how to get good sleep. Here are seven of the most common reasons why you might have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep:

  1. Caffeine – Consuming coffee or caffeinated teas, even in the afternoon, can prevent you from falling asleep later at night. Some people metabolize caffeine more slowly than others, so try cutting out coffee or setting a “caffeine curfew” at least six hours before you need to fall asleep.
  2. Stress – When we are going through particularly stressful times or emotional periods, it can be difficult to stop the racing thoughts that keep us lying awake at night. Further, with more cortisol present in our body from the stress, our minds are more alert, making it even more difficult to sleep.
  3. Disrupted circadian rhythms – Our sleep cycle is heavily impacted by our body’s circadian rhythm, which is essentially an internal 24-hour clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness. If you’re sick, are suffering from jet lag, or have unpredictable sleep and wake schedules, then your circadian rhythm might be disrupted, causing you to lose sleep.
  4. Temperature – Your bedroom shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. The ideal room temperature for good sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you sleep cold, you can buy an extra blanket or portable heater to put by your bed. If you sleep hot, try sleeping with a mattress with a cooling cover like the Nectar memory foam mattress with a Tencel Cooling Cover.
  5. Lights and sounds – Our bodies prefer dark, quiet rooms to sleep. If you have bright lights shining in your room or live on a noisy street, for example, you may have a harder time getting to sleep and staying asleep. You can consider an eye mask if you have bright lights or a partner that likes to stay up later than you.
  6. Sleep disorder – some people unknowingly suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which causes troubled and shallow breathing while you sleep, ultimately disrupting you from a good night’s sleep. Other potential sleep disorders include narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking, and bruxism. If you suspect you have an underlying health condition that is affecting your sleep, it is important to speak to your doctor right away.
  7. Underlying medical condition – Common causes of insomnia include anxiety, depression, allergies, asthma, back pain, and gastrointestinal distress. A bad or old mattress can also cause sleep disorders. Talk to your doctor to identify any underlying medical conditions that could be costing you a good night’s sleep.

What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

Here are ten methods recommended by sleep professionals for ensuring you get a good night’s rest, even when you feel like you can’t sleep:

START A WIND-DOWN ROUTINE 30 MINUTES
BEFORE BED.

Set an alarm for half an hour before you wish to go to bed. When the timer goes off, make a conscious effort to wind-down on any activities or work you were doing, including shutting down all electronics and social media. Use this time to relax, unwind, and mentally transition yourself from “awake” mode to “sleep” mode.

Disconnect from electronics and all screens an hour before bed.

Even before fully winding down, it is wise to turn off all electronics and screens at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. This is because these screens emit blue light, which interrupts our circadian rhythms by tricking our mind into thinking it is still day time. This light will also delay the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep. By turning off blue light, we give our brains time to adjust to it being dark out, which is when our circadian rhythms start preparing us physically for sleep.

Wake up at the same time every day

By keeping a predictable sleep cycle and wake cycle, our bodies adjust and we have an easier time getting to sleep when we want to. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, even on weekends when you might be able to sleep in longer. This might sound difficult, but you will benefit in the long term if your body can following a predictable sleep and wake schedule.

AVOID CAFFEINE IN THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING

Set a caffeine curfew for yourself–you can experiment with the specific time–and aim to avoid all caffeine after this time. Some people metabolize caffeine more slowly than others, and need more hours between their last coffee and their bedtime in order to get sound sleep.

AVOID ALCOHOL CLOSE TO BEDTIME

While alcohol may make you feel sleepy or help you fall asleep faster, the quality of your sleep will not be as good, and your body is more likely to wake up prematurely, once the alcohol has been metabolized. Avoid having drinkings right before bedtime and your body will thank you for the better sleep quality you will experience!

THE 4-7-8 BREATHING EXERCISE

This simple breathing exercise is known to help relax us and get us into a sleepy state. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Inhale for four seconds
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
  3. Exhale for eight seconds
  4. Repeat this process until you fall asleep.
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LISTEN TO A PODCAST, AUDIOBOOK OR GUIDED MEDITATION

Listening to a quiet, monotonous recording can distract you enough from the racing thoughts that keep you awake, while also keeping your stimulation levels low enough to relax you. There is even a podcast called Sleep With Me that provides comforting background noise and purposely boring stories that can actually help you fall asleep.

Get an ACUPRESSURE treatment

Try a simple acupressure technique that helps relax your body and gets you ready for sleep:

  1. Press your thumb into the spot at the top of your nose between your eyebrows for 20 seconds.
  2. Next, go down to your feet. Press on the space your big toe and second toe for 20 seconds

set aside time to JOURNAL

If you experience racing thoughts and worries while trying to get to sleep, write them all down in a journal before bedtime. There is something therapeutic about letting all of your thoughts out onto the page, and you can free up your mind to truly relax.

GET REGULAR EXERCISE

Regular exercise is scientifically proven to increase the quality and duration of your sleep. Lifting weights, running, yoga, or performing any physical activity that elevates your heart rate over a sustained time period, can help you get to sleep faster at night. Keep in mind, however, that you should avoid exercising in the hours immediately preceding bedtime – some people have more trouble falling asleep if they’ve just recently exercised.

Try a new mattress

Swapping out your mattress can greatly improve your sleep deprivation. Getting to lie down on an extremely comfortable memory foam mattress that sleeps cool after a long day can be a game changer when it comes to helping you fall asleep faster. Nectar offers 365 days mattress trial with free shipping and returns. If you don’t like and notice an improvement in your sleep we will take it back.

FAQ

While it’s not always possible to fall asleep on command, you will increase your chances of falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow if you:

  1. Sleep in a quiet, cool, dark environment
  2. Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the hours leading up to bedtime
  3. Wind down before bed and shut off electronics
  4. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each night
Both our physiological state and our environment can cause sleepless nights. Some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia include anxiety, stress, and depression. Other medical conditions that can cause sleepless nights include allergies, back pain, asthma, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, it is important to see a doctor to investigate possible underlying medical conditions.
For a quick method of falling back to sleep, try the 4-7-8 breathing technique described above, or simply try to relax your body. Working your way from your toes all the way to your forehead, slowly visualize each part of your body relaxing.
Yes – being tired and being sleepy are two separate things, and a person may feel physically tired but unable to fall asleep. If you feel this way sometimes and wonder how to get to sleep, the key is to reduce all external stimulation and practice relaxation techniques that will transition your body from an alert state to a sleepy state.
It is possible your circadian rhythm has been disrupted, either because you have made a habit of sleeping at irregular times, are suffering from an external disruption like jet lag, or are experiencing an underlying sleep disorder. If you cannot regularly fall asleep at night, it is important to talk to your doctor.
Try breathing exercises or full body relaxation to transition your body and mind from alert mode to sleep mode. Turn off all screens and outside stimulation, and simply slow down your breathing and relax your mind. When you can’t sleep but need to, it is helpful to reduce all stimulation to help signal to your body that it is time to sleep.
This phenomenon is called middle insomnia, and is somewhat normal. Since we cycle through periods of deeper and lighter sleep, we can be easily awakened in a lighter phase. If you find that you often can’t fall back asleep in less than thirty minutes, you will want to investigate as you might have an underlying medical condition, sleep disorder, or there may be something in your environment that is causing you to wake up prematurely.

You may find that you wake up sooner than you need to and find it difficult to fall back asleep. Worse still, sometimes the worry and stress over not being able to fall back asleep make it even harder to do! This is somewhat normal due to our sleep cycles, which range from deep to light. When we are in a lighter phase of sleep, we can be easily awakened.

If you are in this situation, try to relax and refrain from looking at the clock. Shut out all light sources and sounds. Consider using a sleep mask and/or ear plugs to truly block out any light or outside noises. Meditate or practice relaxation exercises for a few minutes, and you should be able to fall back asleep soon enough.

Practicing good sleep hygiene — going to bed and waking up at the same time, only using your bed for sleep, abstaining from caffeine or alcohol in the hours leading up to bed time, and shutting off all screens at least an hour before you sleep — are the most effective ways to ensure you will get to sleep and stay asleep longer. Exercise has also been proven to improve subjective sleep quality and duration. If you practice good sleep hygiene and still feel like you should be able to sleep longer than you do, you should talk to your doctor to investigate any underlying medical condition or sleep disorder.
Relaxation training, breathing exercises, and meditation can help as first lines of treatment for insomnia. However, sleep deprivation can be caused by a serious underlying medical condition or sleep disorder, so it is important to see a doctor to learn more about what insomnia is and how you can best treat it in your situation.

GET YOUR BEST REST

Customers seeking wellness and the best sleep of their life will love a Nectar mattress. We know sleep deprivation is no fun. That’s why we figured out the perfect combination of cool, breathable comfort and support for your best rest. And with Nectar you get a Forever warranty and a 365 night home trial period with free shipping and returns.

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