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Posted by Bridget Reed
USEFUL TIPS

What To Do If You Can’t Sleep: 4 Things To Try

5 min read

Sleep problems are very common; 10% to 30% of American adults struggle with chronic insomnia, and 30% to 40% suffer from acute insomnia.

You're not alone if you can’t seem to get enough shut-eye. Numerous factors can affect your sleep quality, and there are many tips and tricks you can try in an effort to get your sleep schedule back on track. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re in the right place. We’ve formulated a guide on what to do when you can’t sleep.

What Causes Poor Sleep?

Numerous issues can cause sleeping problems. Below are some of the most common contributors to poor sleep.

Sleep Apnea and Other Medical Conditions

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects over 1 billion people globally. Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing in your sleep due to your upper airways being blocked. 

This airway blockage could be caused by obesity, large tonsils, or hormonal changes. 

Stress 

Stress is a common cause of sleep disorders like insomnia. If you’re dealing with more stressors than you normally do, the extra stress may cause poor sleep. 

Symptoms of insomnia induced by stress are difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up before your alarm, tiredness during the day, and the feeling of always wanting more sleep. 

Contact your doctor if you think stress is causing your insomnia or sleep issues. Your doctor may prescribe you sleep medicine like melatonin or suggest a relaxing activity like daily exercise or meditation.

Blue Light 

If you spend the night on your laptop working late or scrolling on social media, the light the screens give off could be why you can’t fall asleep. All that blue light might also be why you wake up groggy the next day.

Blue light, which comes from laptop screens and other electronic devices, has a shorter wavelength with higher energy than other lights. While blue light can help with alertness, memory, mood, and attention span, the 415 and 455 nanometers blue light gives off may be tricking your body into stopping the release of melatonin, resulting in an inability to fall asleep.

If you can’t avoid blue lights entirely at night, there are other options. Blue light filtering glasses, screen filters, and limiting your screen time near bedtime as much as possible may help you mitigate the effects of blue light.

Poor Diet 

The foods you consume throughout the day can affect your sleep. Foods that are high in sugar or overly processed can cause a spike in your blood sugar, making it harder to settle down and get the sleep you need.

What To Do If You Can’t Sleep: 4 Tips

The side effects of poor sleep can be detrimental to your overall wellness and mental health. Don’t let a lack of sleep run your life! 

Here are our four sleeping tips to promote a happier, healthier you.

1. Try Relaxation Techniques

Mediation and deep breathing can help you relax at night. In addition, controlled breathing can be highly beneficial to your health and state of mind. 

Breathing Exercises

Slowly inhaling through your nose, counting for four seconds, then holding your breath for an additional seven seconds is a technique many people use to relax. After seven seconds, exhale deeply through your mouth, making a loud whoosh. Repeat three to eight times or until you’ve entered the ideal state of relaxation. 

2. Avoid Long Naps 

While it's tempting to snooze in the middle of the day, midday napping may cause your lack of sleep at night. Napping during the day can affect your body's natural sleep cycle, causing you to become even more tired after your nap.

3. Avoid Caffeinated Beverages

A cup of coffee is fine first thing in the morning, but it may be time to ditch that afternoon pick-me-up. Caffeine is a stimulant, and while it may help you get through the workday, you’ll likely regret it once you lay down for bed. 

It might be tough the first few days, but once your sleep schedule corrects itself, you’ll wonder why you ever needed an afternoon cup of joe in the first place. 

4. Exercise Regularly 

Regular exercise offers numerous health benefits, but better sleep is one of them. An afternoon walk proves beneficial for people with sleep conditions as the rise and decline in the body's circadian rhythm.

5. Get the Ambiance Right

Your sleep environment can determine your sleep quality; getting the ambiance of your room right is the first step to a good night’s sleep. 

Follow these tips to optimize your sleep environment.

Consider Your Bedding 

Your bedding plays a vital role in your sleep quality. If you can’t get comfortable in your bed, how can you expect to sleep well? 

If your sheets are too rough, don’t feel fresh and clean, or cause allergic reactions like a stuffy nose or itchy eyes, it’s no wonder your sleep has been on the decline. 

Ensuring your sheets are of the highest quality can lead to sound sleep and sweet dreams. When browsing for your new sheets and blankets, follow these tips:

  • For sheets, we say stick to at least 350-thread count or above and a high-quality type of cotton. Supima cotton is an ideal choice.
  • As for your comforter or duvet, consider a temperature-regulating material to ensure you don’t wake up in the middle of the night too hot or too cold. Your core body temperature follows the same wake-sleep circadian rhythm that your mind follows. As your temperature shifts throughout the night, you want a fabric that will adapt accordingly. 

Investing in a new bed set doesn’t have to mean throwing your old one out. There are tons of ways you can recycle old pillowcases and sheets. You get new luscious sheets while helping the environment — sounds like a win-win to us!

Pamper Yourself at Night 

Giving yourself an at-home spa night can help you relax and wind down before bed. Self-care and forming good pre-sleep habits is the first step to sleeping better at night.

It doesn't have to be extensive, but a simple shower or bath and skincare routine should do the trick. 

Get a White Noise Machine 

White noise can help tone out background sound while giving your mind something steady to focus on. Getting a white noise machine may help with your sleeplessness. You can also simply play a white noise loop from your phone.

Hello, Sweet Dreams

Not being able to sleep at night is a stressful issue, and not getting enough sleep isn’t good for your health. While there are countless potential reasons why a good night's sleep might be eluding you, there are also many ways to fix the issue.

The more you follow the tips listed above, the closer you’ll be to that perfect night's rest you’ve been craving!

Sources:

Exercising for Better Sleep | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm | PMC

Environmental Determinants of Insufficient Sleep and Sleep Disorders: Implications for Population Health | PMC

What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency? | NHLBI, NIH

Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis | PMC

What Is Sleep Apnea? | NHLBI, NIH

Sleep Statistics - Facts and Data About Sleep 2023 | Sleep Foundation

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