If you find that the noise of your television, constant phone notifications, or just the sheer overwhelm of a busy life is making it hard to sleep well – or at all – you’re not alone. Science has found that our hyper-connected, plugged-in lives are taking a serious toll on our quality of sleep. Everything from our smartphones, to the apps that buzz us incessantly with information, to the influx of lights and sounds at night all of it is keeping us up at night.
If you struggle with sleeping well on a regular basis, you’re not alone. Almost 40% of Americans report having trouble sleeping on a regular basis. And over 15% of Americans say that they have chronic insomnia.
Here’s why you may be struggling, and what to do about it:
You’re Struggling With Anxiety
Research has shown that anxiety can cause disruptions in your circadian rhythm, which regulates when we wake and sleep every day. This can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep at night.
You’re Not Getting Enough Quality Shut Eye
Any sleep deficiency can wreak havoc on your health. Sleep deficiency is linked to higher risk of depression, heart problems, and other mental health disorders like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Melatonin pills can help you in this.
You’re Using Stimulants To Stay Awake
It’s true that some people may have trouble falling asleep at night because they are staying up late working, reading or playing games. However, chances are that it’s not a good idea to replace a good night’s sleep with more time spent on your phone or Netflix binge watching series like House of Cards (the latter of which I just finished binging).
You’re Not Getting Enough Timed Rest
Even if you’re getting the right amount of sleep, it doesn’t do you any good if you’re not resting long enough during those hours. Interruptions, such as checking your email or the news, are a big problem for many people. Not only can it take a toll on your sleep cycle, but too much screen time before bed could even lead to insomnia in some cases.
You Have Adrenal Fatigue
One of the most common reasons why people struggle with getting enough sleep is because they are dealing with adrenal fatigue or their body simply isn’t producing enough energy to get through the day. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s possible that your adrenal glands are not functioning optimally.
Contrary to what many people think, special “energy drinks” and other energy supplements aren’t very helpful for insomniacs. In fact, there isn’t a ton of research on how these things might actually help with sleep. And relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing don’t necessarily lead to increases in sleep time or quality (though they can be really helpful). The best way to improve your sleep is by doing the things that you enjoy – but don’t let that stop you from getting the rest you need.
You’re Working Too Hard
As the above list shows, there are many reasons why someone might not be getting enough sleep. But one of the most common is because they are working too much. If you find that you aren’t sleeping as well as you would like, this might be a sign that you need to step back on the work grind and do something else – or pull back a little bit on your schedule to give yourself time to relax. You deserve it!
You’re Not Getting Enough Physical Activity
Lack of exercise can lead to tiredness and lack of energy during the day, which might not leave us with much energy at night. Staying active can help us to get over some sleep problems because it will make us feel more energized.
You’re Not Holding Still During Your Sleep Cycle
Many people find that they struggle with insomnia because they have trouble being still enough during the night to fall asleep. Problematic movements such as moving around too much or having a hard time falling asleep are often a sign that you might not be getting enough restful sleep (and could be the reason you’re struggling with anxiety and adrenal burnout).
You’re Stressed Out
Not getting enough rest can lead to some other problems, too, including stress and anxiety. And if you’re stressed out, you are more likely to have trouble sleeping – so it can be a vicious cycle. Learning to relax through meditation and breathing exercises may be really helpful.
You’re Waking Up Too Early
Some people who suffer from insomnia don’t just have problems falling asleep at night – but also do not get enough rest in the morning, either. If you wake up feeling tired and exhausted all day, it could be because you have trouble going back to sleep when your body is ready for it. Getting up too early can lead to many problems during the day that interfere with your ability to sleep at night. Start cleaning your mattress for better sleep.
You Might Have Restless Leg Syndrome
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, it might be a sign of something else going on. Waking up during the night too often and waking up early can be a telltale sign of restless legs syndrome, which can cause intense and painful sensations in your legs that make it uncomfortable to rest or sleep.
You Have Sleep Apnea
The last one is probably the most common reason why people are having trouble sleeping. If you’re not getting enough oxygen during the night, it can wake you up and keep you from falling asleep for long periods of time. It can also lead to other health problems such as migraines, anxiety, high blood pressure and more.
I’m constantly amazed by how people will spend hours (sometimes even a whole day) playing video games or checking social media accounts, yet spend only a fraction of that time sleeping. On top of that, it seems we are always glued to screens while we try to sleep, often without having the time to simply sit still and relax. Not good for our brain health or our sleep quality.