Keep reading to learn how you can ease your trouble and get some well-deserved rest.
your sleeping problems once in for all.
Identify Why You Can’t Sleep
In order to fall asleep, it’s crucial to understand why you can’t sleep. There are various causes of including:
- Traumatic Experience
- Health Problem
- Lack of sunlight
- Inconsistent sleep schedule
- Too Much Caffeine
Why Can’t I Sleep? Stress
Stress can greatly impact out sleep.
You may be asking yourself what is stress? Dr. Mark Hyman worded it perfectly.
“Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.”
Now that we know we have complete control over our stress, let’s look at how we can reduce it.
Caffeine has stimulant effects which are disruptive to a good nights sleep. This is very concerning with the popularity of energy drinks and other caffeine beverages.
Try swapping caffeinated and alcoholic beverages for the more a more healthier option. My go to is always water and yours should be too. If you’re needing a warm beverage try something as herbal teas.
Looking to make a relaxing herbal drink? Check out this great post over at Mark’s Daily Apple on ingredients to add to your tea that help you relax, it’s a great read.
Vegetable and Fruit Juice
If you’re looking for something flavorful to drink try diluted natural fruit juices or vegetable juice. Joy Bauer has a great post on explaining the benefits of healthy fruit and vegetable juice options.
A popular Anti-Anxiety Juice Recipe I personally use:
2. Physical Activity Is Your Friend
Stress leads to our body increasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is because evolution has our brains hard-wired for “fight or flight” when we find ourselves in a stressful situation. To combat this physical activity is a great way to metabolize our excessive stress hormones and restore our body and minds to a more calm, relaxed state.
Ben Greenfield has a great blog post about combating stress. It’s a long read but is jam packed with useful actionable information!
Going for a brisk walk is a great way to relieve stress by getting your endorphins pumping. Regular physical activity will also improve your overall quality of sleep. Which after all, is our end goal right?
3. Talk To Someone
I personally let stress build up to the point where I’m about to burst. Usually if I simply talk to someone it helps me reduce my stress and improve my sleep.
Talking to someone helps in two different ways.
First by distracting you from your stressful situation.
Secondly releasing built-up tension by discussing whatever it is that is causing you stress.
If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to face to face try using an online forum. One I personally have used is the PsychFourms. It’s a great place to get feedback on whatever it is that may be troubling you.
4. Keep A Stress Diary
Much like talking to someone about your stress, keeping a stress diary is a great way to control your stress. Simply note down each night before you go to bed anything that had caused you stress throughout the day. Give each stressful episode a rating on a scale from 1-10. Use this diary to help you understand what triggers your stress and how it impacts you throughout the day. Doing so will allow you to avoid stressful situations in the future and be able to cope with stress better when it does occur.
I learned how to write a stress diary in this awesome post from MindTools. I highly suggest checking it out if you’re going to start one.
I found another great example of a simple stress diary here.
5. Take Control
Writing down actionable tasks to deal with stressful situations will lower overall stress. Be sure to write down each step required to overcome a problem. Be sure to go down the list and actually complete each step. By completing actionable solution will help rid of any stress.
- Other Resources For Dealing With Stress
- How to Deal with Stress: 33 Tips That Work
- 4 Ways to Maintain a Positive Attitude and Keep Moving Forward
- 13 Foods That Fight Stress
Why Can’t I Sleep? Traumatic Experience
A lot of the steps listed above will benefit you.
First we must understand what is a traumatic experience actually is. Any event that has shattered your sense of security leaving you feeling hopeless and vulnerable.
If you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger. – HelpGuide.org
What You Might Feel
Though traumatic experiences affect everyone differently, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Numbness and lack of experiencing feelings
- Emotional rollercoaster feeling shock, denial, guilt or even self-blame
- Extreme sadness, crying
- Mood swings, feeling of nervousness, anxiousness & irritability
- Bad dreams when you do sleep or recurring memories
- Unexplained aches and pains, nausea, fatigue and loss of energy
- Changes in eating habits
- Increased consumption of alcohol
All of these feelings and actions are a normal part of the grieving process. To help yourself get over a traumatic experience, you must allow yourself time to grieve. Don’t try to rush your recovery or hide your feelings. This will only make things worse in the long run.
This initial stage of the grieving process is denial. In this stage you refuse to believe what has happened is actually true. Our minds will try to tell ourselves that life hasn’t changed and everything is ok. You may continue life as if nothing has happened. This includes making a cup of coffee for a loved one that may no longer be with you. Even flashing back to times and conversations of the past as if they were with you now.
Scott Eckstein wrote some great some great tips on dealing with denial
Try to listen with an open mind to others who may be more objective in what they see.
Take deep breaths, and pause, before responding to anyone that seems to be in denial regarding a loved one’s care needs or living situation.
At some point, the choice is either to try to engage in rational discussion in hope of “shaking some sense into them” or work around them and do whatever you have to do in order to satisfy your own need to do the right thing.
Attend a support group, especially if ideas have been raised about the issues of dementia or care needs you question. The objective feedback might be enlightening.
Read! There is so much information out there relative to these topics that it is likely you will connect with something that will enlighten you.
The next step in the grieving process is we get angry. We start to blame others for our loss. We start to have emotional outbursts and can even become very angry with ourselves.
Dealing With Anger
This was a tough one that took me a long time to find solutions to.
Once you understand that you can’t let your anger control you, then will you begin to ease it.
- Count to 10 in your head, it will help you calm down
- Get exercise, such as walking
- Use meditation techniques to clear your mind
- Focus your energy on solutions rather than problems
- Listen to calming music
We try to make a deal with ourselves or if you’re religious, our god to bring our loved ones back. Or try to go back in time before the tragic event occurred.
This is the most difficult stage to deal with. It’s also the stage you are likely currently in if you’ve not been able to sleep. Depression can also cause you to feel like everything is your fault. You may start to feel as if you’re being punished and that there is no purpose for life anymore. This may lead to thoughts of suicide.
Please get professional help immediately.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
1 (800) 273-8255
How To Deal With Depression
1) Get in a routine. If you’re depressed you likely don’t feel like doing anything. Depression will rob you of any structure you once had in your life. Setting a daily schedule will help you get your mind off of things and remind you that life does go on.
2) Set goals Depression usually leads to you feeling as if you can’t accomplish anything. Set small goals such as walking a mile or doing the dishes. As you complete each challenge you’ll naturally start to feel better.
3) Exercise You don’t have to run a marathon but even walking a few times a week will help. Exercise boots your endorphins which will make you temporarily feel better.
4) Eat Healthy The saying goes, you’re what you eat. If you eat like crap you will likely feel like crap.
For more information about depression I recommend reading : Five lessons I learned from dealing with depression
The final stage of grief is acceptance. This is the point when you finally realize that life must go on. You have finally accepted your loss and now should be able to regain your energy and goals. It likely will take you some time to get to this point. However, once you do you not only feel better but you’ll be able to get some well deserved sleep.
Why Can’t I Sleep? Medication
Several different medications can make it difficult to sleep. The older you are the more likely medications will cause insomnia. This is troublesome for the elderly who have to take several medications.
Top 5 Medications That Cause Insomnia
- Is Your Medication Making You Lose Sleep?
- What Medication Induces Sleep Disorders
- Solutions to Medication Side Effects
Other Resources For Medication That Causes Sleep Trouble
Why Can’t I Sleep? Health Problems
Insomnia and other sleeping issues can be caused by psychiatric and medical condition. There are many medical condition that can lead to insomnia. In some cases the insomnia is directly caused from the medical problem itself. Other times, symptoms of the condition can cause discomfort making it difficult to sleep.
Some Common Insomnia Causing Medical Conditions
- Take an antihistamine before bed
- Rid your bedroom of any pets
- Prop up your head
- Keep your bedroom cool & dark
- Keep nasal passages moist
- Sleep on your left side and avoid sleeping on your back
- Prop up your head 6 to 8 inches
- Wait 3 to 4 hours after eating to go to bed
- Ask your doctor if you can take medication earlier in the day
- Gentle, moderate exercise can help relax your body
- Keep a consistant sleep schedule
- Sit up. To be sure your breathing is unobstructed as possible
- Stay calm. Stress can increase breathing difficulties
- Eliminate the trigger if possible
- If it’s a severe attack seek medical attention right away.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees or on your back with a pillow under both knees
- Use an infrared heating pad, which penetrate deep into your body
- Avoid staying in bed to long
- Use stretching techniques to ease back pain
- Not Enough Sleep: 7 Serious Health Risks
- 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss
- 10 Health Conditions That Disrupt Sleep
Other Resources For Sleep Trouble Causing Health Problems
Why Can’t I Sleep? Lack of Sunlight
We’re supposed to be outside. If you’re locked up in the house all day then you’re not getting much sunlight. Not only can lack of sunlight lead to clinical depression and SAD but can also cause insomnia. This is caused by circadian rhythms which is our bodies internal clock.
What is SAD?
SAD is a mood disorder that affects individuals the same time each year. This usually occurs during the colder months usually starting in October and ending in April. Usually clearing up when the weather gets warmer. Between 60% to 90% of people with SAD are women. Females between the ages of 15 and 55 are more likely to develop SAD.
How Does Light Effect our Sleep
One of the most important external factors that can affect our sleep is light. To much light can make it difficult for people to fall asleep and light indirectly influences the timing of our internal clock. It influences our internal clock through special “light sensitive” cells that our found in our eyes retina. These cells, make vision possible and tell the brain whether it’s daytime or night time.
When our brain gets the signal it’s night time, melatonin is produced by the brain’s pineal gland, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. It makes us tired by lowering our blood pressure, glucose levels and even body temperature. To much light at night causes elevations in our cortisol levels, which disrupts sleep and introduces other problems related to body-fat levels, insulin resistance and even systemic inflammation.
- Block out any light that may be in your bedroom
- Stop watching TV, using your smartphone or any other bright light one hour before bed
How To Have A Better Nights Sleep – Lights Out
How Does Morning Light Improve Sleep?
Now that we know that to much light at night causes sleeping issues, what about getting the proper light in the morning? Just as lack of light at night help makes our biological clock put us to sleep. It also is responsible for helping us wake up. It is crucial that you get proper light when you wake up to help reset your clock each day, so that it stays compatible with our daily schedule.
Our bodies respond be to light between the 6 and 8:30am. Exposer to light after this time doesn’t have the same benefit. Not only that but the type of light and length of exposure is also important. Outdoor sunlight for at least 30 minutes provides the largest benefit. Indoor light however has little effect at all. Artificial light also does not provide the same vitamin D producing benefit as sunlight does.
Light Therapy For Improved Sleep
If you don’t have access to sunlight for whatever reason. Your best alternative is to invest into a sunlamp and do light therapy. During light therapy you sit in front of your sunlamp or also known as a therapy box. The lamp gives off bright light that mimics natural sunlight. A proper lamp for light therapy is between 3,000 to 10,000 lux. If you’re unsure of how powerful a lamp to get, be sure to ask your doctor which would be right for you.
- If possible try to get at least 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight a day
- Get Sunlight before 8:30 am
- If you can’t get sunlight, opt for light therapy instead
How To Sleep Better By Getting Sunlight
Why Can’t I Sleep? Inconsistent Sleep Schedule
Keeping a regular sleep schedule will allow you to have deep, restorative sleep that you can count on. Getting in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm is on of the most important ways to achieve good sleep. You’ll feel much more energized and refreshed by holding true to your sleep schedule rather than sleeping at random times.
Frank Lipman says:
We often think we can make up for lost sleep by going to bed extra early another night but the body clock’s ability to regulate healthy sleep patterns depends on consistency. We stay up late on weekends, expecting to make up sleep later or use the weekend to make up for lost sleep during the week. Both practices disrupt bodily rhythms and late night weekends in particular can cause insomnia during the workweek.
This article is and always will be a work in progress. As I learn more about how to improve my sleep and reasons why people can’t sleep. I will update this article. If you have any comments or concerns please leave a comment below.
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