Can’t sleep at night? What you should never do.
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep. But we all know that when our sleep routine is ruined, it can affect us physically and mentally. Studies have shown that bad sleep habits are often the cause for insomnia.
So, when you can’t sleep at night, the following 10 things should be avoided at all cost.
Why can’t i sleep at night?
The answer to this sometimes goes a little deeper. Bad sleeping habits aren’t the only reason you can’t sleep. There may also be underlying health conditions, medications, sleep disorders, all of which can interrupt a good nights rest – if they’re not addressed.
But is trouble sleeping the same as insomnia? Well, it depends. There are two types of insomnia that a person can experience, this is based on the duration and regularity of a persons sleeping patterns.
Short-term insomnia: A brief type of insomnia that lasts for around three months. This can occur in 15 to 20 percent of people.
Chronic insomnia: In this type of insomnia a person will have difficulty sleeping at least three times per week for more than three months. Around 10 percent of people experience chronic insomnia.
When it’s not insomnia: Perhaps you’ve been staying up late because you like a good party, and now (shock!) you’re tired. Or you’ve stayed up until the small hours to get ahead on an assignment. These are not insomnia examples. Insomnia is when you can’t go to asleep, even if you want to. Or, when you do fall asleep, it’s not long enough.
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When you can’t sleep at night- the main causes
Below are the primary reasons many people can’t sleep at night. Once you know what has caused your sleepless nights, you have the foundations to deal with it.
Psoriasis and eczema will cause your skin to itch and burn so intensely that it constantly occupies your thoughts. If, by chance, you manage to fall asleep, you may scratch so hard it wakes you up again!
Thankfully there are things that you can do to sooth your sore skin. If you are not sure what has triggered the itching, you should see your doctor.
It could be chronic back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any number of conditions, the point is that pain can stop a peaceful nights sleep. But the less sleep there is the more pain there is, it can become a vicious cycle.
It this case, you may need to tackle the sleep issues separate from the condition that’s behind it.
Irregular sleep patterns
If you find yourself wide awake when it’s time for bed, then it may be a confused body clock keeping you up. This could be the result of inconsistent bed times, a lengthy flight from one time zone to another, or changing shifts at work.
Also, some individuals have unique circadian rhythms that takes them out of alignment of usual activities. This means that sleeping at “normal” hours is hard for them.
Mental health condition
Medications that cause sleeplessness
It’s hard enough having a condition that requires medication, no one wants the added stress of having it interrupt their sleep.
Although frustrating, certain medications are known to cause insomnia. So if you are wondering what medications cause sleeplessness. Check out the list below.
- Allergy medications
- Asthma medications
- Contraceptive medications
- Cold and Flu Medications
- Medications for depression
- Heart medications
- Medications for hypertension
- Thyroid medication
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Meds for ADHD
- Meds for Parkinson’s disease
Talk to your doctor to adjust your medication if you think this is affecting your sleep.
These are 10 things you should never do if you can’t sleep
If you don’t have an illness and aren’t taking medications, and you haven’t been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you could be unintentionally interrupting your sleep by doing these things:
1. Go to bed very late or very early
Timing is everything. If you go to bed too early or too late at night this in itself can cause insomnia. It’s better to maintain a regular routine at bedtime. Try to stay awake for at least 16 hours a day, followed by 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Your biological clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, will eventually adapt to this routine, giving you better sleep throughout the night.
2. Have a different sleep routine on weekends
Maintaining a circadian rhythm is vital to combat insomnia. Doctors suggest that you keep a regular bedtime and wake up on time – even on the weekends. Staying awake later on the weekends alters your body’s sleep rhythm and disrupts your sleep pattern for days to come.
If you still can’t resist those late night movies or nights out – you have been warned.
3. Drink too much caffeine
It’s not too difficult to keep track of how many cups of coffee you drink a day, but consuming too much caffeine is a guarantee for insomnia.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that a typical, healthy adult should consume only 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. That’s around three cups of coffee per day. Which, for many people, might seem like a small amount. However, when you consume more than this, it can definitely alter your sleep.
Don’t forget that tea, soda, and chocolate also contain caffeine.
4. Forget the lasting effect of caffeine
Like many drugs, caffeine stays in your system for hours. Studies show that 50% of caffeine stays in your body up to six hours after drinking it.
If you drink coffee or caffeinated soft drinks in the afternoon or evening, it will still be in your system when you go to bed. Even decaf coffee – which still has some caffeine in it, which can prevent you from falling asleep or sleeping soundly.
5. Thinking you need little sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults get 7-9 hours of sleep. This amount of sleep is more than enough for most people.
Granted some people need less sleep than others, but these people are far and few between. Historically, people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Leonardo da Vinci were known to need very little sleep. Some people, like Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison, didn’t get much sleep at night, but napped during the day.
However, if you are like the majority of people, ensuring that you get enough sleep is a must for balance and a good sleeping pattern.
6. Use electronic devices before bed
Many people think that using the electronic device is a great way to relax at night. Whether it is a game on your computer or reading a book on your tablet, people frequently use electronic devices at night.
However, scientists tell us that spending time in front of the screen before bed is an important factor for sleep loss. The electronic device emits light that can interrupt the production of a chemical called melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is essential in helping you sleep, but having too little will alter your ability to sleep in the long run.
7. Eating too late
Eating heavy or spicy foods near bedtime affects sleep. When you eat near your bedtime this triggers the release of insulin, which breaks your circadian rhythm or sleep cycle. The food in your stomach activates your brain and disrupts your ability to sleep.
So try and have your last meal around 3 hours before you plan to sleep. This will give the body plenty of time to digest, leaving it focused on getting a good sleep.
8. Exercise very close to bedtime
It may seem like a good idea, having a nice workout should tire you out – right? Not at all. Physical activity just before bedtime is incredibly detrimental to sleep. Exercise raises your level of stress hormones which can keep you awake at night.
The best thing is to do is exercise several hours before bed. This gives your body an opportunity to relax as the time approaches.
9. You don’t give yourself time to slow down
Your brain needs to go from high activity to a more relaxed one before bed. This allows your body to re-calibrate from the wake cycle to a sleep cycle. It’s suggested that giving yourself up to 45 to 60 minutes of time without electronics, TV, or exercise can significantly help you to fall sleep.
So let’s break it down like this:
- 15-20 minutes to finish your activities
- 20 minutes of sleep preparation: brushing teeth, bathing, and putting on pajamas
- 15-20 minutes of relaxing via reading or breathing deeply
10. Look at the clock
Many of us have had one of those nights; where we need to be somewhere early the next day – but no matter what we try sleep just won’t come. Chances, are when this happens, you start checking the clock, trying to calculate how long you have left to sleep – counting down the hours.
If this is something you recognize, then you need to stop. This habit makes it very difficult to fall asleep.
It’s best not to have a digital alarm clock in front of your bed, as the temptation to “clock watch” will be too great. The one thing you don’t need is a shiny digital clock staring back at you when you can’t sleep.
No one saying get rid of your clock, but put it somewhere where it is still accessible (if it’s an alarm clock) but not in your face.
Instead of clock watching, breath deeply relax and perhaps use an eye mask to shut out any light.