Nothing is as frustrating as not being able to sleep . You lie tossing for hours, you are very tired, and yet refuse to sleep. The next morning you get out of bed with no possibility, and you’re tired and grumpy the rest of the day.
How do you prevent you from waking up so tired in the morning, and how do you prevent insomnia? In this article we will discuss the most important causes for a bad night’s sleep and give you a number of tips to help you sleep better.
Causes of not being able to sleep
Not being able to sleep can have many causes. We list a number of common points that can cause your insomnia. If you recognize them, then these are problems to work on first!
Your diet has a lot of influence on your energy level, and therefore also on your sleep rhythm! Certain types of food and drinks can quickly make you lie awake. The main culprits are often the following products:
- Fast sugars (especially after dinner). Just a sweet snack in the evening quickly causes a peak in your blood sugar, and with it a lot of energy .
- Fats (especially after dinner). It takes your body relatively much energy to digest fat. Therefore a fat bite for the TV is not recommended for your night’s rest.
- Alcohol . Although it makes you sleepy for a while, it then deteriorates the quality of your sleep. This makes it easier to lie awake longer at night.
- Caffeine . Of course you don’t have todrinkthree cups of coffee in the evening. But if you are sensitive to it, caffeine can disturb all your night’s rest from 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
2. A full (or sensitive) bladder
Do you often have to get out of bed six times in the evening to go to the bathroom? To start with, it is wise to drink less in the evening. Of course you have to stay hydrated, so drink more earlier in the day.
Furthermore, this can also be a matter of habituation. If you walk to the toilet every time with the least urge, it makes you more and more sensitive. So try to train yourself a little bit to be able to fall asleep with something in your bladder.
3. Too much (blue) light
Your sleep hormones are sensitive to light – and in particular to blue light. That gives the signal of daylight, and therefore a signal that you have to stay awake for a while. Not being able to sleep is often the result of too many TV, computer or telephone screens.
A light filter on your electronic devices helps, but does not solve all problems. It is best to stop staring at screens after 9 hours. Rather read a book, take a bath or take an evening stroll. You sleep a lot better with that.
4. Irregular sleep rhythm
Finally, your sleep times can also have a lot of effect. If you go to bed at different times every day and get up, your hormones don’t know where they stand. This ensures that you are sleepy or wide awake at the wrong times.
Regular sleep times can therefore help enormously when you often cannot sleep. Even at the weekend it is better not to get up much later than normal. Sure, it is best to set the alarm an hour later – but it is wise not to sleep until noon.
The importance of sleeping well
Of course you will soon notice the effects of insomnia: you are tired and in a bad mood during the day, you get a headache, you can concentrate less and you just want to go to bed. However, not being able to sleep also has effects that you do not immediately notice. These are the most important benefits of good sleep :
1. Recovery of your muscles
Sleeping well is of course important for everyone, but is perhaps even more important for athletes. During sleep, different processes take place in your body that ensure that you recover from the effort you have made during the day. This is also the time that cells and tissues are repaired and muscle growth takes place.
If you sleep too little, your body will not recover enough . This not only means that the results of your hard work are less visible, but also that the risk of injuries ismuch greater. If you do not recover enough, it may be that you are overloading your muscles at the next workout.
Much of your hormone balance also takes place during the night’s rest. For example, your body produces ghrelin and leptin during sleep , the hormones that signal to your brain when you feel hungry and when you are full. If these hormones are out of balance, you get binge eating .
How is that possible? If you sleep poorly, your body produces less leptin. In addition, your body produces more ghrelin on such days. This means that your feeling of hunger is stronger and your body is less likely to let you know when you are full.
Another hormone that gets out of balance from poor sleep is cortisol , the stress hormone. Cortisol is the hormone that tells your body that it must fight or flee in difficult situations. This requires energy, so if your body produces a lot of cortisol, it will also tend to eat more to make the fight or flight response possible.
In addition, cortisol is the hormone that causes skin aging, because it causes the production of collagen to decrease. This is the reason that you see wrinkles, dark lines and pimples faster in people who don’t sleep well.
3. Insulin sensitivity
A well-rested body produces insulin when your blood sugar is higher than average. This ensures that your fat cells absorb excess sugars and extra energy is stored as fat.
However, the cells of a body with a sleep deprivation are less sensitive to insulin. This means that they can store less sugar and part of the surplus ends up in your organs. This is how you build up fat between your organs, which of course is not good for you.
4. Motivation and wise choices
Research has shown it before: people with a lack of sleep often make significantly less sensible choices. This can be explained from the brain. You have a part in your brain called the amygdala. This part processes information and links this to emotions. So it’s the part of your brain that causes emotional reactions.
Normally the amygdala is contained by the insular cortex. If you sleep little, the insular cortex becomes weakened, leaving the amygdala free. You become more emotional, but you are also less able to resist impulsive tendencies to eat something unhealthy, for example.
Not being able to sleep also has strong consequences for your resistance. This is of course also the reason that you get tired of being sick and that sleep is the best medicine for all kinds of ailments. Your body needs rest to ward off threats such as viruses and infections and to recover from existing ailments.
Are you someone who has a constant cold and do you get sick every time a virus goes around? It is possible that this is caused by your sleep deprivation.
Tips to sleep better
All the more reason to pay attention to your sleep, in other words! But what if better sleep just doesn’t work? However, not being able to sleep does not always have a clear cause. Some people adhere to all the ‘rules’ and still can’t get to sleep.
What are you doing then? Fortunately, even for such cases, there are still exercises and tips that can help you. We list the seven most important ones!
1. Put your alarm clock out of sight
But few things are as frustrating as an alarm clock that indicates increasingly late times. That certainly applies with luminous clock radios. You just stare at the staggering minutes and are always reminded of how little time you have left until you have to wake up again …
That kind of stress is the very last thing you need. It is precisely worry that keeps you awake. So turn the display away from your alarm clock or put it out of sight. In this way you cannot accurately keep track of how bad the insomnia is.
2. Write down your worries
Do you lie in bed worrying in the evening? Are you afraid of forgetting things that you are thinking about now? Or does too much still have to be done and have you lost the overview? In all those cases, a notebook is your best friend! It is best to place one on your bedside table as standard.
By writing down your worries, you create more order and peace of mind . You get a better grip on what you still have to do, and you see better how you can tackle problems. That might take 15 minutes, but after that you’ll be a lot quieter in bed.
3. Drink tea or warm milk
Hot milk works well for many people to induce drowsiness, because it contains the substance tryptophan. In addition, there are not too many sugars and fats that can keep you awake. It is therefore an ideal drink for the late evening.
4. Tension and relax
If your body doesn’t want to relax properly , it helps to do the opposite first. Fully tense your muscles one by one and then fully relax them again. Start with toes and then work your feet, calves , thighs, etc. upwards.
The additional advantage of this exercise is that you get ‘out of your head’ for a moment. By really focusing on your body, you worry and stress less attention. That also helps to fall asleep faster.
5. Provide a cool environment
Being unable to sleep can also be caused by an unpleasant environment. For example, heat is not good for your sleepiness. And fresh air often helps enormously, so it’s a good idea to open a window! Is that not possible for whatever reason? Then you can in any case ensure that the heating goes out on time to prevent a sauna effect.
A good comforter is also important. With a lot of plastic, it quickly becomes a sweaty mess under the covers, and that too can lead to insomnia. It is best to have a comforter that breathes reasonably well.
If your blanket has become very warm from all the tossing and turning that you have done, you can try turning it over. The top of your blanket has become nice and cold from the fresh air in your bedroom, so it suddenly becomes a lot less sultry under the covers!
6. Listen to soothing music
A lot of music has been written especially to make you fall asleep. In addition, you can of course always put together your own calming playlists. If you can’t sleep, it helps enormously to concentrate on that music.
A step further, but also very effective, are playlists with calming sounds from nature. Consider rustling waves or rustle of trees. There are also plenty of them online. Some are specifically meant for people who cannot sleep.
7. Visualize a peaceful environment
Finally, a form of meditation that can work very well: visualize an environment where you can completely unwind. Think of an empty, snow-white beach, or a beautiful green forest. You can take the landscape of your favorite vacation, but everything is of course possible.
These types of meditations work best if you ‘use’ as many different senses as possible. Not only think about what the beach looks like, but also hear the waves and feel the warm sand between your toes. And do you smell the scent of the sea and palm trees? This way you will quickly relax!
Do you have tips for people who can’t sleep? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!