You are exhausted, lie down in bed, and long for just one thing: deep, sound sleep. But then it doesn’t happen – you lie awake. Minutes pass, we toss and turn, and although you are very tired, you just can’t sleep.
Have you ever experienced this? Or do you often have trouble staying asleep, waking up in the middle of the night with your mind racing?
6 Causes of Sleep Disorders (+ Tips to Fall Asleep)
1. Exposure to bright light
Do you often lie in bed at night and stare at your smartphone while you catch up on the news and check your Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds? Then you’ve probably already noticed that you have trouble sleeping after spending time looking at your phone for a while. The reason why: the bright light of your screen!
Televisions, computers and phones – all these electronic devices emit bright light. This causes our body to believe it is still daytime and disrupts our circadian rhythm. It’s no surprise then that the light emitted by smartphones and other electronic devices can lead to sleep disorders.
Try to cut down on your smartphone or screen time in the evening and set a time when you stop using these devices for the night. If this isn’t an option for you, you can also download apps that change the color of your screen to a darker hue. In contrast to bright light, this doesn’t prevent our body from releasing the sleep hormone melatonin.
2. Too much caffeine
If you didn’t sleep well or not enough, it’s completely understandable that your first stop in the morning is the coffee machine. But if you drink too much coffee throughout the day, it might make it hard to fall asleep in the evening or keep you awake at night. This can lead to insomnia.
If you want to sleep better, it’s a good idea to avoid coffee or any caffeine after a certain time (e.g. after 2 pm). The time varies, of course, from person to person, but keep in mind that caffeine stays in your system for 6-8 hours. A pretty long time, don’t you think?
3. Intense workout in the evening
Have you ever done a tough bodyweight training workout or an intense run and then had trouble falling asleep, because you were so energized? Exercise before bed can cause problems sleeping.
The Alaska Sleep Clinic recommends allowing time to relax after a workout. If you are going to do an intense cardio workout (sprints, soccer, basketball, etc.) in the evening, make sure it’s two to three hours before you go to bed. It takes time for your heart rate, adrenaline level, and body temperature to get back to normal.
Good to know:
Stretching, yoga, or a leisurely walk are perfect evening activities to relax before going to bed.
4. A big meal before going to bed
We’ve all probably done this before: we get online and order a large meal to be delivered. It ends up being more than we actually wanted, but we manage to squeeze in the dessert as well. We regret it quickly, a heavy meal before bed makes it hard to fall asleep.
When you need quick relief, try drinking a cup of decaffeinated tea (peppermint, anis, fennel, or ginger) or going for a short walk to help you digest. And next time try to choose lighter options in the evening.
5. Alcohol before falling asleep
A small glass of wine in the evening can make for a nice nightcap. But if you drink too much alcohol in the evening, it can lead to trouble sleeping.
How did you sleep the last time you had several drinks? Deeply and soundly? Or did you wake up a lot and were restless? Alcohol disrupts REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We spend 25% of our night’s sleep in this phase, which plays a crucial role in our body’s recovery processes. Therefore, experts recommend to stop drinking alcohol 2-3 hours before going to bed.
6. Your bedroom is too warm
Do you like a warm and cozy room? When it’s cold outside, it’s tempting to turn on the heat. But if you sleep in a hot room, it could lead to sleep disorders or insomnia.
A cool room helps us fall asleep faster. The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping the temperature between 60° and 67°F (15°- 20° C).
Do you have some tips for a good night’s sleep? Post your ideas in the comments below!