Can't sleep? - Causes of occasional insomnia
Have you ever asked yourself, "Why can't I sleep even though I'm tired?"
You are certainly not alone in this.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 35% of the US population reports sleep problems.
Whether your occasional insomnia is caused by worry, stress, or something else you can't quite put your finger on, there are natural products that can help.
You just need to know where to look.
Common causes of occasional sleep problems
There are many causes of sleep problems, from caffeine to anxiety, from blue light to cat-napping.
Each of us must be aware of these common causes.
Emotional and psychological causes
Some of the most common causes of occasional insomnia include:
Normal everyday anxious feelings
Unhealthy daily habits
Our daily habits often contribute to sleep loss.
- Regularly consuming alcohol to fall asleep can even have a negative impact on our sleep cycle in the long term.
- Excessive caffeine consumption during the day can disrupt sleep, especially if it occurs after lunchtime.
- An irregular sleep schedule, daytime naps, lack of exercise, heavy meals or sugary foods right before bed, or even exercising too late in the day can contribute to less restful sleep.
Our gastrointestinal microbiome consists of the microorganisms that live and work in our digestive system. The balance of bacteria in the microbiome influences digestion, metabolism, immune system function and even our sleep cycle.
What we eat or drink - and even our emotional state - can influence our gut microbiome positively or negatively.
In fact, our gut microbiome seems to provide the link between our feelings and sleep quality.
Why sleep is important
"Short sleep duration" is the term the CDC uses to refer to adults who regularly sleep less than 7 hours in a 24-hour period. Research suggests that prolonged periods of short sleep cycles can have a negative impact on our health.
Good sleep has many benefits. Waking up fresh helps us maintain a good mood and a sharp mind.
Sleep and general health
Sleep is an innate bodily function that allows our body to refresh, recharge, and restore its many complex and interconnected systems.
One way it does this is by sleep triggering a process known as "autophagy," in which cells literally recycle themselves. During healthy sleep, autophagy helps maintain healthy brain function and mood.
However, lack of sleep not only disrupts our circadian rhythm - the natural sleep cycle - but also disrupts the body's numerous biological rhythms.
Our body is a complex organism, and its systems, which we often think of as independent, are much more interconnected than we think.
Chronically short sleep times can lead to weight gain and accelerated aging.
In short, good sleep is important for the overall health of our body. It restores our body's systems and ensures optimal function.
Ways to get good sleep
What can I do if I can't sleep? If you can't sleep, get out of bed and wait until you're tired again. Avoid blue light, caffeine and stressful situations beforehand.
How to improve sleep quality:
- to do sports
- Try supplements (like valerian, melatonin, magnesium, and lavender)
- Limit exposure to blue light
- Avoid long naps during the day
- Follow a consistent sleep routine
- Avoid stimulating or stressful activities before bed
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Avoid caffeine
- Make your bedroom an oasis
- Put the clock out of sight in the bedroom
1. Play sports
Research has shown that moderate aerobic exercise has a positive effect on sleep, as long as you don't exercise right before bed.
Aerobic exercise generally refers to light to moderate exercise that increases heart rate, causes increased blood flow, and requires increased oxygen consumption.
This type of exercise helps the body's systems function optimally by pushing them beyond their resting or satiety norms.
Types of aerobic exercise include swimming, jogging, walking, cycling and rowing.
2. Try supplements
Several supplements can help you fall asleep better, stay asleep, and achieve deeper sleep.
Valerian root : The extract from valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) has been used for decades to support healthy sleep. Studies show a significant improvement in sleep quality with valerian. Valerian extract can not only help induce sleep but also improve the overall quality of your sleep.
Melatonin : Your body naturally produces melatonin to signal tiredness when it's time to sleep. Melatonin supplements have become one of the most popular natural sleep aids and consistently contribute to restful sleep.
Magnesium : Magnesium deficiency can be a cause of poor sleep because it plays a role in melatonin production. Taking magnesium alone appears to improve sleep quality, especially in older adults. Combining magnesium with melatonin and a B vitamin complex may be even more effective.
Lavender Oil : Lavender essential oil is often diffused at night to promote restful sleep. Normally, lavender oil should not be consumed. However, a safe oral preparation of lavender oil was used in a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving patients suffering from both occasional insomnia and anxiety. The researchers found that after 10 weeks, both sleep and mood problems had improved significantly.
Chamomile : One of the oldest medicinal herbs, chamomile has long been known to promote healthy rest and relaxation. It is most popular as a tea, but it is also used as an extract and essential oil. The terpenoids and flavonoids in chamomile contribute to its herbal benefits.
3. Limit exposure to blue light
Blue light is a type of artificial light emitted by electronic devices such as televisions, computers, phones, tablets, etc.
Blue light suppresses melatonin in people and makes them awake. Using devices that emit blue light before bed prevents the body from recognizing tiredness and preparing for sleep.
Limit the use of these devices in the last few hours before bedtime, or at least the last hour before bedtime.
4. Avoid long naps
Napping longer than 30 minutes during the day, especially after 3 p.m., can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
However, researchers have found that a 20-minute nap does not have a significant impact on nighttime sleep when compared to other naps.
5. Establish a regular sleep routine
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try developing a regular schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day - even on weekends.
Regular relaxing activities and good nighttime sleep habits can help support your biological clock by getting you into a consistent circadian rhythm.
Some research suggests that the time you go to bed, not the time you wake up, is most important. Set the alarm not for waking up, but for going to bed and getting ready for bed.
6. Avoid stimulating activities or stressful situations before bed
Heated discussions or arguments, checking social media news, or catching up on work before bed all contribute to poor sleep quality.
Excessive use of your smartphone and your work or school stress are both factors that significantly affect the quality of your sleep. Poor sleep and each of these factors are also independently associated with burnout.
After you wake up from a restful sleep, you can return to the things that need your attention the next day.
7. Avoid alcohol before bed
A late night drink may be your favorite way to relax and prepare for bed.
However, alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle, preventing deep sleep and causing insomnia in the middle of the night. Interestingly, this doesn't shorten the amount of time you sleep, but it does make your sleep less restful.
8. Avoid caffeine
Whether it's a coffee for dessert, a tea, or a chocolate snack, it's best to avoid caffeine in the evening.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends avoiding caffeine at least 6 hours before bed.
If you are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you may want to stop using it even sooner.
9. Make your bedroom an oasis
A quiet, dark and cool environment in the bedroom can improve your sleep. A bedroom that is too cold or too hot, noisy or flooded with light makes it difficult to sleep well.
A soothing sound machine, fan, or earplugs can improve your sleep quality. A comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding can also contribute to better sleep.
Experiment with different relaxation techniques to make your bedroom an oasis where you can get a really good night's sleep.
10. Move the clock out of sight in the bedroom
One way to avoid feeling unrested is to take the clock out of sight in the bedroom.
Anxiously looking at the clock, stressing about how little sleep you're getting, and knowing how exhausted you'll be in the morning are a recipe for staring at the ceiling.
On the other hand, an oasis-like bedroom where the clocks are out of sight is part of good sleep hygiene. Healthy sleep hygiene is associated with fewer problems with restful sleep.
Reclaim your life with better sleep
Good sleep is important for each of us. It allows the body's complex systems to recover so they can function optimally. That's just how our bodies are designed.
For some sleep problems, you may need to see a sleep specialist or consult your doctor. However, there are steps you can take to reclaim your life through better sleep.
Many things can get in the way of better sleep, but you can do something about it. It's never too late to start.