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“Why Can’t I Sleep?”: 5 Reasons and 19 Solutions to Help You Sleep Tonight

Why Can’t I Sleep?: 5 Reasons AND 19 Solutions

Getting enough sleep may be the single most important thing you can do for your body.

Even a single night without sleep has been shown to cause massive reductions in your emotional and physical state, while severely limiting your cognitive capacity for the rest of the day (if not for the next couple of days).

Over time the accumulation of poor sleep quality and low sleep duration has been shown to cause an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, weight gain, and even cancer. 

With this comes an associated increase in inflammation, and declines in attention, memory, productivity, and athletic performance.

So, to put it simply–sleep is extremely important.

This is why we have put together the ultimate guide to creating your personal sleep cocoon that you can use to get to sleep faster, sleep better and maximize your health!

5 Common Reasons You Have Trouble Falling Asleep

 

There are a few common reasons that most people have trouble sleeping. Below we list these reasons plus quick links to the relevant solutions farther down the article.

  1. Too Much Light (Especially Blue Light)

    For most of human history, it has been pretty dark at night. But light from light bulbs and electronics has permeated every part of our day and night, to the detriment of healthy sleep.It’s hard to remove all sources of light from your house at night, but you can make your bedroom into a sanctuary of tightly controlled light that will help you sleep much better. 

    Solutions:
    Blackout Blinds
    Eye Masks
    Blue Blocking Glasses

  2. Too Much (Or Not Enough) Noise

    Noise pollution is another artifact of modern life, particularly in urban environments. Too much noise at night can definitely affect your sleep, even if you’re otherwise used to the noise.On the other hand, some people are creeped out by too much eerie silence and that can keep them from sleeping!  Check out the following solutions to those problems:

    Solutions:
    Sound Machines
    Ear Plugs
    Headphones

  3. Too Much Thinking/Racing Thoughts

    We can’t blame modern society for this one, it was probably an issue throughout human history. However, modern society certainly isn’t helping. Everyone is extremely busy these days and it’s very difficult to just stop our frantic thinking when it’s bedtime.There are many factors that can contribute to an overactive mind but the good news is that there are proven methods for calming your mind. See these solutions for more:

    Solutions:
    Sleep Aid Device 
    Essential Oil Diffusers
    Chamomile

  4. Too Much Positive Charge

    Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Throughout the day, we pick up a slightly positive charge in our bodies. The earth has a slightly negative charge that balances this out. However, most people never touch the earth in an average day.This positive charge can affect your overall health and reduce the quality of your sleep. It sounds crazy when you first hear about it, but there’s a substantial body of research backing this finding. Luckily, the solution is pretty easy:

    Solutions:
    Grounding Sheets

  5. Dust Mites

    This one is sort of gross, but you may be sleeping with tens of thousands of dust mites. These tiny creatures can cause allergies and make it more difficult to get a good night of rest. You can reduce them by ensuring that your bedroom gets sufficient airflow and by buying mite-resistant bedding and changing your mattress at least once every ten years. Here are our bedding recommendations:

    Solutions:
    Bedding

Why Can't I Sleep?: Here Are 19 Solutions

Sleep Environment Enhancements

Our first section looks at physical alterations you can add to your bedroom as a way to improve your ability to fall asleep, while also assisting you improve the quality of that sleep.

Blackout Blinds

Blackout blinds are blinds that have been designed using blackout fabric as a way keep your room as dark as possible–and this is important.

Your eyes contain receptors that are sensitive to light. When these receptors are stimulated by light they send signals to your brain, which in turn stimulate feelings of alertness, while also down-regulating feelings of relaxation and tiredness. As you can imagine, this not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, but also reduces your quality of sleep throughout the night [1].

Check out our full review of blackout blind options.

Your Skin Can Sense Light

It’s not just your eyes that need protection from light while you sleep–your skin can also sense light (29). This makes sense, because your skin converts sunlight into vitamin D, so of course it is light sensitive. Blackout blinds protect your whole body from light, not just your eyes.

The use of blackout blinds in the bedroom has been shown to reduce light entering the room, thus increasing your ability to fall asleep in the short term. This has also been shown to aid in the regulation of normal sleep hormone secretion, which can actually improve your sleep quality in the long term [2].

Sleep Aid Device

The Dodow sleep aid device is a new introduction to the sleep market. This unique little machine projects a halo of subtle light onto your ceiling (so subtle that it will not stimulate the light receptors in the eye), which pulses in a gentle and rhythmic manner.

By synchronizing your breathing with the rhythm of the light, Dodow creates a relaxing effect by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and improves hormone function, putting your body in a deep state of relaxation [7].

Through this mechanism, the Dodow has the capacity to help you fall asleep faster, while also putting you in a deeper sleep state throughout the duration of the night [8]. This can cause serious improvements in sleep quality.

Sound Machines

Sound machines are designed with the intent to make white noise–a unique noise that functions as a type of anti-noise. This means that it doesn’t demand any focus, and as a result, acts as a distraction from normal thought and focus.

This noise also physically dampens and muffles other sounds and noises that could demand attention and promote wakefulness—for example, outside traffic, a dripping trap, or even your partner’s snoring.

As a result, the use of sound machines at night have been shown to not only enhance sleep quality, but also prolong sleep duration and reduce the speed required for you to fall asleep [34]–essentially ticking all of the sleep related boxes!

Check out our full review of sound machine options.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers are specifically designed machines that disperse essential oils into the air, causing their natural aroma to completely fill the room.

There are a number of different styles of essential oil diffusers that can be used, some of which are much more complex than others – the thing to remember is that they all aim to do the same thing!

Now these machines only have the ability to enhance sleep quality if you use them in combination with appropriate essential oils.  With that in mind, the aroma of essential oils derived from lavender and clary sage have both been shown to cause large improvement in sleep quality and relaxation, making them your best bet [56].

For more options, see our full article on essential oils and sleep.

Rehne Burge, CA, NAHA Louisiana Director

 

The Aromatherapist says…

“When purchasing essential oils, follow these simple steps:
1) Avoid purchasing oils from a department, drug or grocery store.  
2) Purchase essential oils from online websites that provide online GC/MS analysis reports onsite.  
3) Never take the advice of a salesperson or other unless they are trained in Aromatherapy. 
To locate an Aromatherapist or ask further questions, you can find me or a Director in your area at the NAHA site.”

Falling Asleep Faster with Wearables

With the things that we can add to your room, there are also certain things that you can wear that also have the ability to improve your sleep quality in a huge way.

Eye Masks

Commonly known as sleep masks, eye masks are most commonly made from fabric that blocks all light from entering the eyes.

In doing so, these masks reduce the neural stimulation caused from light. As a result, they have been suggested to improve your ability to fall sleep, help you maintain a deeper sleep, and ensure that you stay asleep for longer – all with less sleep disturbances throughout the duration of night.

And the research really supports this, showing that those individuals who use eye masks on a regular basis fall much asleep faster than those who don’t [9]. These same individuals also tend to have better global sleep quality, suggesting that eye masks also have the ability to promote a deeper and less restless sleep [10].

See our full review of sleep masks for help on choosing the right one for you.

This Cheap Sleep Tech Gadget Retrains Your Brain to Fall Asleep Naturally on Its Own

See it now

Blue Blocking Glasses

We have already mentioned how light exposure can stimulate the brain, thus causing wakefulness. But what we didn’t mention is that certain types of light are much worse than others – with the most detrimental to sleep being blue light, which is emitted from electronic devices such as phones and tablets.

This light causes huge disruptions in your circadian rhythm, making it extremely difficult to fall asleep, while also causing large reductions in sleep quality throughout the night.

Blue light blocking glasses are specially designed glasses that stop this blue light from reaching your eyes. Using amber coloured lenses, these glasses effectively stop all blue light from reaching the eyes surface – thus ensuring that they do not stimulate the brain.

Research has shown that simply wearing these glasses for three hours before bed can cause huge improvements in your ability to fall asleep, while also ensuring that you maintain a deeper and more restful sleep throughout the night’s duration [1112].

Check out our full review to find the best blue blocking glasses for you.

Ear Plugs

Environmental noise (such as outside traffic or your partners snoring) can stimulate key receptors within the ear, which in turn send signals to brain. These signals heighten sensations of alertness, essentially inducing a state of wakefulness that can make it quite the challenge to fall asleep.

Earplugs offer an easy and affordable method of reducing this audible stimulation, therefore increasing sensations of relaxation.

Evidence shows that individuals who start using earplugs on a regular basis will typically fall asleep much faster than they did prior to using earplugs. Additionally, they also tend to experience a deeper more restful sleep, in which they are less likely to wake throughout the night [1314].

See our full review of earplug options for sleeping.

Headphones

One way to enhance your sleep quality is to listen to either white noise or environmental sounds. These sounds actually reduce brain stimulation, putting you in a more restful state – which as you can imagine, enhances your ability to fall asleep.

The kicker here is that not everyone wants to listen to these noises – which means that headphones offer the most effective option to keep you and the rest of your household happy.

By providing you with a private method of listening to these sleep-inducing sounds, and also blocking out any annoying external noises, headphones offer a great way to help you fall asleep faster, and maintain a deeper sleep through the night [15]. 

Check out our full review of the best headphones for sleeping.

Use the Right Bedding

Very much like both our wearables and our bedroom additions, we can also make some changes to our bedding to cause substantial improvements in sleep quality.

Pillows

As obvious as it may seem, your pillow can have a massive impact on not only your ability to fall asleep, but also a number of other key sleep indicators as well. Having a quality pillow can make you less likely to wake during the night, reduce sleep disruption, and even improve neck and back health over the duration of your lifetime [16].

With this in mind, choosing the best pillow to suit your sleep style, your individual poster, and your personal comfort preference is essential to making your bedroom more ‘sleep friendly’, and thus increase your sleep quality. 

What’s “best” for you will depend on your situation. For example, there are certain pillows that are ideal for sleep apnea, for neck pain, and then there are many that are just customized for individual comfort. 

Grounding sheets are designed to provide the body with a connection to the earths natural negative charge.  While this may sound a little bit far fetched, there is reason to believe that this application of charge can actually down regulate the body’s hormonal and nervous systems, enhancing recovery and relaxation.

Taking this into consideration, research has shown that the application of grounding in this manner can reduce cortisol secretion and enhance sensations of relaxation [17].   

Moreover, when using the application of grounding, individuals have been shown to fall asleep much quicker than they do without that grounding.   Within this, they also appear to wake up feeling more refreshed and with more energy [18], providing a pretty clear demonstration of their effectiveness in this manner. 

Here is our top recommendation for grounding sheets.

Dr. Eric Wood, N.D.

 

The Naturopathic Doctor says…

Also don’t forget two simple yet powerful tools to improve your sleep:
1) Taking an epsom salt or peat moss bath: the act of soaking in warm, mineral-rich water can help the body go into ‘parasympathetic dominance’, which is our ‘rest and digest mode’, many people struggle with due to overly busy schedules, not winding down before bed, etc. It also helps the body start to regulate it’s temperature for bedtime. Most individuals are unaware that our body temp needs to drop approximately 0.4 degrees celsius to sleep well. This can also be helped by… 

2) Turning down the thermostat. Ever tried to sleep on a hot, sticky summer night? It doesn’t tend to work too well as your body is struggling to be able to cool and drop down that body temp, so you can reach deeper and more restful sleep.

Organic Sheets

Organic sheets are quite simply sheets made from completely organic materials. Typical sheets and bedding are made with numerous plastic and industrial grade compounds that not only have a negative impact on the environment, but can also cause mild irritation and health issues – and obviously organic sheets completely mitigate this.

These specific sheets are well known for being extremely soft and incredibly comfortable. They are also ideal for those who suffer from allergies, or have sensitive skin. Moreover, given that they breathe a whole lot better than regular cotton sheets, they increase sleep comfort throughout the entire night [19].

Through each of these interactions, organic sheets appear to be a simple and effective means of enhancing sleep.

See our full review of organic bedding options.

Mattresses

Very much like our pillow section mentioned above, your mattress is one of the single most important things that you can consider when it comes to sleep. Your mattress essentially dictates your comfort levels throughout the entire night.

As a result, having a good quality mattress that suits your needs has been shown to improve your ability to fall asleep, increase the quality and duration of that sleep, and even ensure you wake up feeling more rested than you would otherwise [20].

Taking this into consideration, finding a mattress that suits your individual comfort needs is essential – so do your research and choose wisely!

Related Article: How to find a mattress that’s right for you.

Use Natural Supplements to Fall Asleep Quickly

Like most things, there are a number of specific compounds that have actually been shown to enhance sleep quality. These compounds are completely organic in nature, and have the ability to interact with the body extremely positive manner.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a specific herb that comes from the flowers of the Asteraceae family.

While used for thousands of years as a bit of a cure all, recent research has shown that chamomile contains two groups of compounds known as flavonoids and terpenoids. These compounds are highly bioactive, in which they interact with the brain at a cellular level to both improve health and reduce nervous system hyperactivity.

Through this unique interaction, chamomile supplements have been shown to elicit significant improvements in both sleep quality and sleep duration after as little as two weeks of consumption [22] – which is pretty damn effective if you ask me!

 

Dr. Ahmad Alsayes, M.D.

 

The Medical Doctor says…

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs we know, and when we drink its aqueous extract (in form of tea) regularly, it can effectively work as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety and to treat nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems.

Passion Flower

Passion Flower is quite simply a climbing vine that is easily recognised by its bright purple flowers. Found growing natively throughout south-eastern sections of the United States, and both Central and South America, this amazing plant has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicinal practices.

Amazingly, the supplementation of this unique bioactive plant before bed has been shown to cause large and measurable improvements in both sleep duration and sleep quality, while also reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep [23].

This genuinely makes passion flower one of the most potent natural sleep boosters on the planet.

See our full review of passion flower supplements for sleep.

Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found within the human body – and also one of the most important. It is essential to all living cells, where it plays a number of roles ensuring the success of many physiological functions.

It is required to produce energy, allow the production of your DNA, and is even used to build and repair enzymes, proteins, and the body’s tissue.

Interestingly, it also plays a key role in the management of sleep. As a result, its supplementation has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety [24], while also increasing sensation of relaxation, thus contributing to enhanced sleep quality [25].

L-Tryptophan

L-Tryptophan is a specific supplemental form of tryptophan.

Tryptophan is a specific type of protein known as an essential amino acid.  It is considered essential because it is vital the normal health and function of the human body, however it cannot be synthesized within the human body.

Tryptophan is so important because it assists in the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is an important hormone that helps with the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm, and therefore helps maintain normal sleep patterns.

Taking this into consideration, the supplementation of tryptophan has been shown to increase melatonin production in the brain. This in turn causes large improvement in sleep quality and duration, while also helping you fall asleep easier [2627].

See our full review of tryptophan supplements for sleep.

Laura Myers, RDN

The Nutritionist says…

“Drinking a glass of tart cherry juice has also been shown to help aid in sleep. Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep cycles. In addition, tart cherry juice has been shown to increase to availability of tryptophan–a precursor to serotonin. Tart cherry juice can be found at most grocery stores in the juice aisle.”

Melatonin

We have already touched on the importance of melatonin in regards to the management of the circadian rhythm, and the promotion of sleep. However, what we failed to mention was that melatonin can also be taken in a supplement form.

As a result, this has obvious and positive implications for sleep quality, much in the same manner as tryptophan. However, as an added bonus, using melatonin to aid sleep has also been shown to improve morning alertness and energy throughout the following day.

This suggests that using melatonin to promote sleep may also improve overnight recovery, which has a myriad of additional health benefits [28].

See our full review on how to choose the best melatonin supplement for you. 

Which Insomnia Remedies Work For You?

Improving your sleep is hands down the most important thing you can do for your health and longevity. With good sleep quality showing associations with improved health, cognitive function, mental state, and even physical fitness, it should really be a major priority for all of us.

Which is why we have put together the ultimate guide that outlines everything you can do to improve your sleep. These methods enhance sleep from every angle, offering benefit for literally anyone.

If you have used any of the methods outlined in this article, we would love to hear about it – so drop us a comment and we will get back to you ASAP!

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