We all know the frustration that comes with not being able to sleep- even if it's just for one night. That tossing and turning feeling, knowing that you have to wake up in less than 4 hours to go to work, dreading the idea of attempting to be productive with little to no energy in the tank, crying a little on the inside. It's tough.
Sometimes, sure, having one night of poor sleep can happen to us. We're not perfect. However, if it becomes a chronic issue, then some investigating has to be done because without sleep how do we expect ourselves to ever recharge?
Think of your body as your cell phone. You're flicked on from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Jumping from app to app, closing windows, reopening conversations, deleting things, editing images, sending emails, tracking calendar dates- it's a job to be alive. Sometimes, half way through the day, you may even need an extra battery charge. We can call this a cat nap for human terms. Imagine not ever being able to recharge fully (or sleep for that matter since you're not an object). Eventually, the system will slow down and never work as optimally as it should. Hence why sleep is so vital.
So today we thought we'd list out the 8 top reasons why someone may be struggling with sleep. Once you figure out your root cause, it's then easier to tackle on a problem because you have a direction to put your focus on.
1. Blue light exposure
Are you on your phone, computer or watching television before you go to bed? All of these things emit blue light from the screens in which signal to the brain that it is daylight outside and it must continue to produce cortisol to keep you awake, whilst reducing your melatonin production. Typically, as we wake up, we should have a surge of cortisol as we expose ourselves to sunlight and then, as the day passes by, we reduce this exposure to light to prepare ourselves to go to sleep. The only way to fix this is to either fix your bad habit of being on a screen until you need to go to bed or invest in blue light blocking glasses with a red lenses if you truly cannot avoid a screen.
2. Stimulants too close to bed time
Are you someone who likes to drink a bit before going to bed, or smoke a bit? Despite what most people think, alcohol actually interferes with REM sleep, causing you to feel more tired the next morning. This is due to the fact that it affects the liver's ability to store, release and produce glucose during sleep, thus causing blood sugar imbalances and prompting you to wake up as a stress response. Sure, you may feel sleepy after you drink it, but that's a short term side effect. Cigarettes too can affect sleep for nicotine is considered a stimulant similar to coffee- which also brings us to our last point. Coffee, whether it is too close to bed or even during the day if you're sensitive to caffeine, can over stimulate the adrenal glands and the nervous system.
3. Nutrient deficiencies
Is it possible you might be deficient or have some nutrient imbalances?
Not having adequate magnesium, calcium or B vitamins could render someone susceptible to anxiety or not being able to calm their nervous system down, thus not being able to sleep. The best way to check if you have mineral imbalances specifically is to run an HTMA with us by clicking the link here.
Did you know infections such as parasitic, bacterial, and even fungal can interrupt our sleep cycle? Some of these pathogens are considered to be more awake at night or affect our ability to relax and fall into restful sleep. For instance, parasites have an affinity for waking up at night, or fungal infections like candida can disrupt our blood sugar levels and have the body craving more glucose when it's trying to sleep...which brings us to number 5.
5. Blood sugar issues
Did you know your liver needs a minimum of 120g of glucose to just function?
Or that if you eat a meal or snack too high in glucose it'll have your blood sugar levels crash in the middle of the night or too high in protein it'll keep you up because it's trying to digest? Blood sugar is like a symphonious art, and pairing adequate carbs to protein, as well as when through out the day can directly affect one's sleep quality. In addition, hormones such as insulin, leptin and ghrelin could play a role, all in which can be affected by our mineral and vitamin status.
6. Heavy metal toxicity
Very similarly to nutrient deficiencies, heavy metals could actually force certain minerals out of the cells and replace them, rendering us deficient or low. That being said, some metals do have over excitatory properties and can cause one to feel agitated, anxious, energized or wired. In addition, metals do also have the affinity to affect the synthetization of hormones like melatonin. Again, the best way to check this is to do an HTMA with us here.
This is a no brainer, my friends. Stress will keep anyone awake. Why? Because we are programmed to try and "fix" everything in our lives immediately and hold this deep sense of fear if we don't or the world will fall apart. The fact of the matter is stress will always be there, whether it's work, school, family, relationships, money, health, etc. That being said, the best way to handle stress and resolve a problem is to come at it in a healthy way and not do irrational things in moments in which we feel desperate. Be open to therapy, meditation, and taking the time to allow yourself to rest to come back to a problem with clearer eyes.
8. Not allowing your body to calm down before bed
Are you over working yourself right up until the last second you let yourself hit the pillow? Maybe you're hitting the gym at 9:00pm and then coming home, or maybe you're still working on an assignment? Possibly cleaning the house at 11 at night because you might not have time tomorrow morning? I get it, there aren't enough hours in a day, but understand your body really likes two things: routine and safety. In order for it to calm down enough to prepare itself for sleep, you need to send it signals to literally fall asleep. This can look like dimming the lights, drinking something warm, lying down, turning off all electronics and music to envelope itself in silence. As for point number two, safety, having a rush of adrenaline from movement can be disruptive, and even though you're not necessarily in danger, the body may take it as "it's time to GO".
Hope you found this helpful to narrow down why you may not be sleeping!