Reasons Why I Can't Sleep
Have you ever slept but woke up tired more than you went to bed? Again, do you struggle to concentrate during the day? Well, you could have insomnia. Insomnia describes a sleep disorder that makes people cannot sleep as expected. When you have this condition, no matter how much coffee you try to take, you’ll still struggle to keep your eyes open in any place you’ll be. Even after being tired during the day, with insomnia you’ll o home and cannot sleep. Lack of sleep has many causes, such as anxiety, depression, too much caffeine, diet, medical conditions, and others. To understand what causes insomnia, let’s start with learning about circadian rhythm.
What is Circadian Rhythm?
It is a natural internal clock. It regulates activities that our bodies do 24/7, 365 days a year. The circadian rhythm operates depending on the light and darkness to regulate various body functions like body temperature, digestion, metabolism, and sleep. This body clock is known as suprachiasmatic and is usually in the brain. It controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep and wakefulness. It is produced by the pineal gland, also found within the brain. Melatonin works in a certain pattern that enables you to remain awake during the day and sleep at night. During the day when there is light, melatonin levels decrease and this keeps you awake. At night, when it’s dark, the pineal gland produces more melatonin to keep you asleep. After melatonin is produced at night, its levels rise at around 2 a.m and 4 a.m, and this explains why people are usually deeply asleep during this time of the night. Again, at around 5 am, the levels of melatonin reduce and then people wake up. With this explanation, it means that if you have a problem with sleeping, your circadian rhythm may be altered. The following are reasons you can’t sleep:
Excess Intake of Caffeine. Taking coffee is a common habit that many people seem to enjoy. A cup of coffee, especially in the morning, gives us energy and helps us to remain awake. Taking coffee boosts your concentration to enable you to focus on various things, like school and at work. According to studies, coffee remains in the body for about 5 hours after you have consumed it while executing its effects. One thing most people don’t know is that coffee is a stimulant and anytime you take it, coffee affects your sleep. It disrupts the natural clock, hence delaying your usual sleeping time. Studies show that taking 200 milligrams of coffee 16 hours before sleep can heavily affect your sleep. The higher the amount of coffee you take, the lower the levels of sleep. Researchers advise people to take less coffee at least 4-6 hours before the rest to sleep.
Nutrition. There are many instances we are told that we are what we eat. There is a huge relationship between the type of food you eat and sleep. Studies conducted in 2019 showed that taking too many foods rich in calories increases your chances of sleeping during the day. High-caloric foods such as white rice, fried potatoes, white bread, pasta, etc. raise blood glucose levels quickly a few minutes after eating. This elevation of blood glucose hastens sleep through the production of tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals that are involved in sleep. Eating such foods during the day can make you sleep, hence disrupting the circadian rhythm. Once this is disrupted, you’ll find yourself awake during the night. It is advisable to avoid taking such foods during the day and instead, take them a few hours before sleep because they will enable you to sleep better and deeper. Foods high in calories are associated with obesity and heart problems and, therefore, should be eaten in moderation.
Excess Light From Gadgets. The 21st century is characterized by the advancement of technology and the development of smart gadgets. Technology has done so much good to humanity and one of its benefits is the discovery of mobile devices for easier communication. One major problem linked to electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, TVs, etc. is the emission of blue light. Saying blue light does not mean light that is blue, of course, no. Blue light is the light you see when using your gadgets that enables it to operate. Excess use of phones, especially before bedtime, decreases melatonin production, which in return decreases sleepiness. Also, screen time causes digital eye strain that also affects the quality of sleep and makes you wake up with a headache.
Depression. Depression is a mental health condition that affects the way people think and behave. Depression happens because of the interference of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters regulate many body functions, such as sleep, mood, happiness, and general wellbeing. Scientists highly link one neurotransmitter known as serotonin to the development of depression and this explains why people with this mental condition usually find it difficult to sleep. Serotonin and melatonin work together to keep you asleep or alert. Depression suppresses the production of serotonin, which is also involved in the production of melatonin. These two factors disrupt the circadian rhythm and deny you sleep. Other factors play a role in the depression-sleep relationship as well. Such factors include genetics, inflammation, and changes in brain chemicals.
Sleep Disorders. Ideally, human beings cannot stay awake continuously without rest. We need rest to regain our energy back and work better. However, not all people enjoy their hours of sleep because of certain sleep disorders. Disorders such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome can interfere with sleep, making you stay awake most of the night. Sleep apnea, for example, impairs the breathing system and restricts the air from going through the airway. This then restricts enough oxygen to reach the lungs and, therefore, you end up breathing shallowly. For you to sleep well, your lungs require a constant supply of oxygen that is uninterrupted. Restless leg syndrome, on the other hand, disrupts you when sleeping. It makes people feel a constant desire to move their legs even while asleep, and this in return keeps you awake for long or just keeps on waking you up after a few hours of sleep. Failure to get adequate sleep during the night causes you to sleep during the day, which then keeps you awake at night all over again.
Measures to Help You Sleep Better
Struggling to sleep can affect our lives in immense ways. When not addressed properly, it can constantly lead to fatigue, poor concentration, obesity, depression, impairment in immunity, and lower sex drive. Other major diseases caused by sleep deprivation are diabetes, hypertension, strokes, and heart attack. However, there are many tips you can adopt to help improve your sleep quality. Here are a few measures that can boost your sleep:
Put your phone and other devices away 2-4 hours before sleep. Also, you can put them in another room to avoid the temptation of using them at night, which can then interfere with your sleep.
If noise distracts you and makes you unable to sleep well, try using a white noise machine when sleeping. Also, earplugs and eliminating any source of noise such as TV can help you sleep better.
Do you enjoy writing? If yes, try journaling. Scientists teach that when what bothers people is written, it’s easy to get a solution for it. It also enables you to realize excess stress, making you sleep better.
Limiting caffeine and other substances that deprive you of sleep may promote good sleep.
Most doctors don’t recommend the use of medication to promote sleep. This is because once you teach yourself the habit of taking medication, your body convinces your mind that has a problem. In the end, it becomes permanently engraved in your brain, making it difficult to fall asleep when you don’t have these medications. For more tips on the causes and treatment of insomnia, check here:
Conclusion. Lack of sleep is a common problem, and it all starts with a disrupted circadian rhythm. This problem can result from many reasons, such as taking caffeine before sleep, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, diet, and others. Regardless of the cause, lack of sleep may not be a life-threatening condition many times and can be treated successfully. However, there are times it becomes hard to sleep even when extremely tired and this is where the problem comes in. In such instances, you could have a serious condition, such as depression and diabetes. If this is your case, see the doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
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