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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Why I can't sleep: 6 common reasons and fixes to help you sleep

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on May 22, 2018 12:00:00 PM

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There are many different reasons you might notice that you arent able to dooze off to dream land.  Below we comprised a list of the six most common reasons you cant sleep and how to fix them.

#1: A rumbly in your tumbly

To eat or not to eat? That is the question! Some people might shy away from the late night munchies for weight gain fears but sleeping on an empty stomach could have some negative effects on your health.

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While sleeping on an empty stomach your body can keep you mentally alert with hunger pains. This leads to an unsuccessful night’s sleep. When you deprive your body of sleep, it reduces your metabolic functions and can cause muscle mass breakdown. According to some studies, sleeping on an empty stomach slows your body’s ability to convert proteins into muscle.

The Fix

Make sure to eat during the day to avoid hunger pains during sleep. If you are trying to lose weight eat small meals throughout the day to allow your body to obtain energy from fats at night. Avoid heavy meals within two hours of bedtime. Stick with small healthy meals a couple of hours before bed to receive a better night’s sleep.

#2: You drank booze to close to bedtime

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Even though alcohol will initially make you tired it disrupts your natural REM sleep cycle.  Alcohol eventually interferes with the quality of your sleep leaving you to become more tired the next morning.

The Fix

The obvious answer is to not drink before bed. However, if you are going to have a couple glasses of wine with dinner, keep it to 1-2 glasses. Generally, this amount shouldn’t affect your sleep as much as 3+ glasses of wine.

Also, make sure to drink water before bed as alcohol will cause dehydration during the night.

#3: You can’t stop thinking when you lay down

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Your head hits the pillow and all of a sudden you dive into three different levels of anxiety. You try to quiet your head and fight the urge to think about all the problems you currently are facing. When you get caught on this worry train you’ll stay awake much longer.

All of us wake up at times during the night, and the first thing that pops into our heads is a big problem we’re worried about. The best thing you can do is stop yourself from going there and redirect your thoughts to something less stressful. If you get caught up on the worry treadmill, you’ll stay awake much longer.

The Fix

Try to quiet your mind by doing a little meditation or calming breathing exercises. If that doesn’t work, write down the ideas going racing thru your mind. Putting pen to paper will help ease your nerves about things you can’t deal with at this moment. An active mind keeps you awake. If this type of late night anxiety is starting to seriously affect your everyday life, it is suggested to seek professional help or guidance.

#4: Your room has a constant glow

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You’re busy during the day and catching up on your TV while you relax in bed. You are binge watching of the next season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. You are checking work emails on your tablet or cell phone. All of these scenarios expose your eyes to light. Artificial or natural light tricks your brain into reducing melatonin and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm.

The Fix

Turn off screens one hour before bedtime. This includes; cell phones, tv screens, electronic books, video games. You can even turn off your alarm clock if it emits too much light. If your room is too light because it's sunny out, hang up some blackout curtains to block out the natural sunlight.

If you need some sort of relaxation before sleep, try listening to a book on tape or reading by a soft light. Learn more about creating a comfortable sleep environment.

#5 Your bed partner saws logs

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Snoring can take a heavy toll on a relationship. Studies have shown those who sleep next to a heavy snorer can lose an average of an hour of sleep per night. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “snoring spousal arousal syndrome”.

The Fix

Aside from sleeping in another bedroom, the best approach is to let your bed partner know about how their snoring is keeping you up at night. Hopefully, you can both come to a solution that works for everyone. Some solutions to suggest for your partner are breathe right strips, decongestant nasal sprays, antihistamines, and an anti-snoring pillow. You could also get a white-noise machine (for you!) to help block out ambient noises such as outside traffic or snoring.

A trick my mother swore by is when my dad would start snoring like an ox to gently push him onto his side and his snoring would subside. So far it has seemed to work, they have been married for 35 years.

#6: You saw logs

lady_snoring.jpgHas your bed partner complained about your loud snoring?  Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night to your own snoring or gasping for air? You might be missing out on a healthy night’s sleep because you have sleep apnea. It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep.

The Fix

Ask your bed partner to observe some of your sleeping habits during the night. If pauses occur while you snore and if choking or gasping follows the pauses, these are major signs that you have sleep apnea. If you feel you have signs and symptoms of sleep apnea you should schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist. The best way to know for certain is to have a sleep study conducted. If anything, the sleep test will rule out sleep apnea and will allow you to focus attention on other potential factors mentioned previously.

If you live in Alaska and a sleep disorder is becoming worrisome, contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic to receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep educator by clicking the link below.

Snoring and Sleepy

Topics: tired

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