If you’re up at night and wondering why you can’t sleep,
there may be some surprising causes. You know what I’m talking
about. When your family is down for the count, the house is silent,
you aren’t too hungry or too full, not any more stressed out than
normal, did not have that afternoon cup of coffee, and still you
As we all know well, sleep is a vital component of our health.
Too little sleep can make us more vulnerable to illness, weight
gain, and it can harm our brain function and emotional wellbeing.
Putting it bluntly, it makes us tired, sick, heavy and cranky.
Believe it or not, sleep deprivation
increases your risk of mortality by 13%. It also harms the
economy when workdays are lost
due to the effects of sleep deprivation. Experts say that
increasing nightly sleep from under six hours to between six and
seven hours could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.
Let’s go beyond the obvious reasons why you can’t sleep,
such as too much caffeine and exercising before bed to look at the
less obvious causes of sleep deprivation. After all, sleep is
critical to our emotional and physical health, not to mention
making us far less cranky during the daytime.
The Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep
Here are 8 reasons why you can’t sleep, and they may just
I told you these reasons may surprise you! The global
temperature is rising, which
resulting in nights that are warmer. In hotter climates and in
the summertime, this can mean some very uncomfortable evenings.
It’s more challenging for the body to sleep in hotter
temperatures, and particularly difficult for people who are older.
Experts predict that by the year 2050, climate change will cost
millions in additional nights of insufficient sleep per year.
This can be worse for people who can’t afford to run air
conditioning. Though air conditioning only does further damage to
the environment, anyway.
Another surprising reason why you can’t sleep may
have to do with air quality. Air pollution affects your
breathing and lung function. High levels of air pollution are known
to cause upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, and may
impact the brain areas that control sleep.
Consider getting a plant in your home that may improve air
quality. Also, purchase and use items made without toxins and
chemicals, which can harm the air quality in and around your
Your clock is broken
Your internal clock, that is. We all have biological rhythms,
known as circadian rhythms, that
function on a daily time scale. It’s what makes us feel tired
at night and awake during the daytime. However, people who have
circadian rhythm sleep disorders have malfunctioning biological
rhythms, so their internal clocks are essentially broken.
Make sure that your environment is as conducive to nighttime
sleep as possible, such as room darkening blinds or shades,
shutting down your devices, and removing anything that emits
Your brain is one-sided
Our brains are made up of a left and right hemisphere, which
generally they work together. Yet when they become imbalanced,
can be effects such as insomnia. For example, when someone
undergoes trauma or a major stressor, the brain can become
unbalanced. Researchers have been studying whether listening to
gentle music may encourage the regions of the brain to align.
It has also been
found that visually creative people, who are thought to be more
right-brain dominant, report having disturbed sleep and more
difficulties in functioning during the daytime.
You’re addicted to your smartphone
Your handheld device may be one of the reasons why you can’t
sleep. Just having a device in the bedroom, even without using it,
increase the likelihood of poor sleep. Device usage kicks the
sleep deprivation up a huge notch. Longer average screen-time is
associated with less sleep and poorer sleep quality, especially
when smartphones are used close to bedtime.
This is particularly
concerning for millennials and those in Generation Z, 1 in 5 of
whom say that they regularly wake up in the night to send or check
messages on social media. This goes for your young kiddos too, by
the way. Children using smartphones and tablets at bedtime have
double the risk of a disrupted night’s sleep than children
without access to those devices.
Shut down your smartphone and take devices out of the bedroom at
There’s a significant
link between loneliness and poor sleep quality. When people are
distressed because they think their social relationships are
inadequate, it may initiate a heightened stress response that makes
it challenging for the body to relax. Not surprisingly, lonelier
people report feeling more tired and unable to concentrate during
Your eating habits suck
One of the main reasons why you can’t sleep may be found on
your plate. People who eat less fiber, more saturated fat and more
have lighter and more disrupted sleep. More fiber means more
time spent in the deep sleep stage, while a lower sugar intake
means less arousal from that deeper sleep. While a high fat diet
associated with sleep problems at night, exhaustion during the
day, and a higher likelihood of suffering from sleep apnea.
Try to be more mindful of what you are eating if you have
difficulty sleeping. Cut out the sugary drinks and snacks and
consume more nutrient dense foods instead.
Your smoke before bed
You don’t need me to tell you that smoking isn’t healthy,
but smoking before bed can be the
reason why you can’t sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant and can
keep you awake. In fact, cigarette smokers are four times as likely
as nonsmokers to report feeling unrested after a night’s
sleep. And with the comfy new bedding you could buy with the
$2500+ you would save from quitting, you’d certainly get a better
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