July 31, 2020
Dr. Sally Norton
Can’t sleep? Well, you’re not alone.
The truth is, it’s not uncommon to have a couple of sleepless nights, every now and then. A quick Google search for the question “why am I so tired” brings up nearly 800 million search results. And it’s estimated that insomnia affects approximately 30% of the general population.[*] Furthermore, sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, prevent millions of Americans from getting the sleep they need, every night.[*]
The fact is, there’s a wide range of issues that can make it difficult to fall asleep. Stress, for example, can be a major contributing factor to a lot of sleepless nights for many people. As most of us know, the constant struggle to balance work and life can make it difficult to relax and unwind before bed. It’s ironic because we need the rest to recover from our busy workloads but the stresses from our day keep us awake all night.
Another example of something that might be making it difficult to fall asleep could be congestion and sinus pressure. Often caused by allergies or an illness, being all stuffed up can make it difficult to breathe properly, keeping you awake for hours. Bedtime should be a moment of quiet reflection at the end of a long day. However, it can easily turn into a nighttime of difficulty breathing and restlessness.
Additionally, there are many people who suffer from sleep disorders that keep them from getting a good night’s sleep. For example, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that interrupts the sleep of millions of people each night. During their sleep, sufferers momentarily stop breathing as their airways close off due to over-relaxed muscles.[*] Treatment for OSA often comes in the form of a ventilation device known as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. And there are many natural prevention and management options that may also be effective solutions.
There may be other factors that are sometimes overlooked as direct causes of sleeplessness, such as caffeine or medications. Caffeine, for example, is a stimulant that can make it hard to fall asleep, especially in the immediate hours after consuming it.[*] And certain medications, such as decongestants for allergies, may contribute to sleep problems and insomnia.[*] In some cases, people may not even be aware of issues like these that could be potentially affecting their sleep.
Regardless of what’s holding you back from a good night’s sleep, the result is still the same: Hour after hour of tossing and turning, counting sheep, just wishing you could fall asleep.
And we know, you’re tired of it~~~
We might not have all the answers but we’ve done some research and come up with a few suggestions on how you might be able to fall asleep faster and get a good night’s sleep.
5 Things To Try For A Better Night’s Sleep
1. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably start your day with a cup of coffee. You may even have a second or third cup, depending on how much of a pick me up you need. But it’s important to not overdo it. Too much caffeine can cause problems with sleep, and may keep you up all night regretting that fourth or fifth cup.[*]
2. Drop Your Daytime Nap
A nap in the middle of the day might seem like a good idea, especially for anyone suffering from lack of sleep at night. But, in hindsight, your nap may be creating more sleep problems than it’s solving. The research isn’t totally clear on this one, but it does seem that, for certain groups of people, a nap during the day can actually reduce the quality and duration of your sleep at night. If you’re worried your naps might be affecting your quality of sleep, try staying awake through the day and see if there’s any improvement.[*]
3. Get Physical
If you can’t sleep, you may want to try adding a bit of exercise to your daily routine. Believe it or not, getting physical on a daily basis with a moderate to intense exercise routine may actually improve your sleep quality and duration. But don’t overdo it because too much strenuous exercise can actually have the opposite effect.[*]
4. Start A Sleep Hygiene Routine
OK, so you’re probably asking, “What is a sleep hygiene routine?” Basically, a sleep hygiene routine consists of the things you do to help you prepare for a good night’s sleep. For example, you may want to try adding a nightly nasal rinse before bed to clear away any dust or allergens that might be causing nighttime congestion and irritations.[*]
Here are a few other things to consider adding to your sleep hygiene routine:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
- Avoid television, smart phones, and other distractions just before bed.
- Consider a warm shower or bath and maybe some meditation or quiet time at the end of your day.
5. Keep It Cool
Some people find that setting the room temperature a few degrees cooler at night may contribute to a better quality of sleep and may help you fall asleep faster. It’s thought that as your body temperature naturally decreases while you sleep, it may be beneficial to cool things down around you, too. But, keep in mind, just as some people prefer it to be warmer or cooler during the day, choosing the right temperature for you will ultimately be a personal decision.[*]
If you find you can’t sleep or you just wish you could fall asleep faster, try implementing these easy and natural tips. Don’t let unnecessary obstacles, such as congestion or too much caffeine, get in your way. Instead, set a schedule and stick to a good sleep hygiene routine. Look for more natural solutions where possible. And, don’t forget to exercise, eat right, and stay healthy in your search to get a good night’s sleep.