Alaska Sleep Education Center

Something Keeping You Up at Night? Understanding the Problem.

Posted by Miranda Woolridge on Apr 1, 2021 1:37:00 AM


You’d think that when you have had a very long day and you are tired as if you haven’t slept for days, you fall asleep immediately after your head touches the pillow. But then time passes by, and two hours later you are still awake. What’s the problem? Why can’t you fall asleep when you are so tired?

Nowadays, it’s common to suffer from sleep problems. Whether you are tired, or you simply can’t fall asleep at night for no particular reason, it’s a problem and you should work on fixing it. But what can cause such unpleasant effects? Let’s see!

Body Temperature

It could surprise you, but your body temperature has a big impact on your brain and the signals that it sends to your body. Your closing, the overall temperature in the room, the bedsheets, etc. affect your brain. 

To start falling asleep, your body temperature has to drop around 1 or 2 degrees Fahrenheit or 1 degree Celsius. It’s a known fact that people fall asleep faster in rooms where it’s too cold than where it’s too hot.

Some people might be skeptical and claim that they tend to get a hot bath before sleep, and it helps them to fall asleep faster. Well, shocking news - when leaving the bathroom all radiating heat, you lose that heat and your core gets colder faster. As a result, you fall asleep because you have managed to lose the surface heat. 


You may say that you can drink a cup of coffee and fall asleep immediately after the last sip. And that will be true. But when you fall asleep, your body will decide that you don’t need quality deep sleep. As a result, you wake up in the morning already tired.

If you are one of those people who can’t fall asleep after drinking a cup of coffee, so you don’t drink it before sleep, there is a problem you might not be aware of. For example, do you know how long it takes for your body to get rid of the caffeine in your brain? From 5 to 7 hours! 

So, let’s say at around 6 pm you drank your coffee or tea, and you go to sleep at 11 pm. There is a chance that your brain still hasn't reduced the level of caffeine and you can have trouble with falling asleep. 

But there is another thing that people should be aware of - coffee or certain types of tea are not the only sources of caffeine. Pain killers, weight losing pillows, real dark chocolate, ice cream, cocoa, and other products contain caffeine. If you consume them, you can’t fall asleep, or you get a bad quality deep sleep and feel broken in the morning.

Bright Lights

Before the invention of electricity in 1879, humanity was used to the darkness. When the daylight was gone and candles, gas lamps, or other sources of light weren’t that bright. As a result, people’s bodies were losing a big amount of melatonin. This body signal was sending a message to the brain, saying that it’s time to go to sleep. When it was time, people were falling asleep without significant problems, unless they had health issues. 

What do we have today? Bright light around the clock! Sometimes the light is so bright that it can even compete with the daylight. Of course, it confuses your body and your brain. How can you expect to fall asleep when you switched off the lights 5 minutes ago? Your body has just begun dropping the level of melatonin!

You are used to reading before going to bed? Or you like watching some soothing movies so they can lull you to sleep? Well, here is another shocking detail - the light produced by cell phones, tablets, PCs, or TVs won’t allow your body to stop dropping the excess melatonin. As a result, even after spending an hour in a dark room with only your phone turned on, you still can’t fall asleep.

You can try fixing the problem by arranging fewer bright lights. Today, multiple various options make artificial light look less bright. Try to make the light dimmer, less bright, at least two hours before you go to bed. Avoid artificial colors, go for more natural ones that may resemble the light from candles or gas lamps.

And as for reading or watching movies before you go to sleep, consider switching to dark mode on your device. If you can’t just go to sleep without an interesting story to read, at least your eyes won’t suffer from too bright light. Luckily, dark mode is trendy nowadays, almost every website or app offers to switch to night mode. 

And as for phones or tablets, there is a reading mode that makes the background less white and bright. It would also be good for your eyesight. Specialists claim that contrast between the background and the text can cause worsening of your eyesight. For example, when the background is super white and the text is black. Whereas yellowish background and not so dark text can help reduce the burden from your eyes.


Not having a routine won’t help you to fall asleep sooner. For example, if you have a standard routine, you take a shower, brush your teeth, prepare your bed, listen to some relaxing or favorite music, read something interesting, and then you go to bed, your brain will start sticking to this routine. 

If it takes you an hour to complete all the actions from the routine, when you will be completing the last action, you will already be sleepy. Your whole body will feel like it’s finally time to relax, close your eyes, and get uninterrupted, healthy sleep. If you stay awake 3 times a week till 4 am, then don’t expect to fall asleep at 11 pm all other 4 days of the week. Your brain needs consistency. 


If not right before sleep, then exercise can help you fall asleep. Exercise overall keeps a body healthy and it uses your energy. At the end of the day, you feel that nice tiredness within your body. It doesn’t even mean you have to hit the gym, even long walks can help, as long as not right before sleep. 


As you can see, there are several reasons for you not falling asleep, or waking up at night. Try applying one, several, or all of these tips to improve the quality of your sleep. If nothing works, it’s best to consult a doctor. You need your sleep, and lack of it won’t make you happier or healthier. 

If you don't sleep at night, your body doesn't get any chance to develop the immunity and metabolism that can be created when you are asleep. So, slowly and unknowingly you get closer to an unhealthy life, sometimes even death. That is why sleep must be a priority, even if you have lots of things to do. Only the proper rest helps your body to take the load you give regularly.

If you still find yourself having missing out on sleep even after practicing good sleep habits, you may want to talk to your doctor about your sleep problems and to schedule a consultation with a sleep specialist.  At the Alaska Sleep Clinic we treat hundreds of patients throughout Alaska for various sleep disorders including: sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and more.  Click the link below to receive more information regarding scheduling a sleep study.

Finally - Sleep Consultation

Author’s Bio:

Miranda Woolridge is currently working as a blogger and writer at Her field of interest is varied, and she always tries to expand her knowledge and boost skills.

Topics: insomnia, sleep hygiene, staying healthy, benefits of sleep

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