Can’t fall asleep? You’re not alone! More than half of all adults don’t get the full 8 hours that the experts recommend. For many of those sleep-deprived people, the problem isn’t that they’re failing to go to bed on time; it’s not being able to fall asleep that’s having an effect on overall health and fitness.
So what’s stopping you from sleeping well at night? It could be that:
1. You’re in Front of the Screen Too Late.
Studies have found that late-night screen time can interfere with your body’s ability to fall asleep. Researchers believe that the light emitted from tablet, smartphone and laptop screens delays the release of melatonin, an important sleep chemical, and that this leads to tossing and turning. Try scheduling a screen time cutoff 1 to 2 hours before bed to fall asleep faster.
2. You’re Not Cutting Off the Caffeine.
Speaking of cutoff times, if you’re drinking coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages too late in the day, you may be too wired at bedtime. The effects of caffeine can last for 8 to 14 hours; however, coffee has a half-life of roughly 3 to 5 hours. In other words, making sure that you enjoy your last caffeinated beverage at least 5 hours before bedtime will likely help to solve the problem.
3. You’re Sleeping in on the Weekends.
Sleeping in can seem like a great way to catch up on sleep, but doing so can actually make it harder for you to get up during the week. Your body’s natural clock relies on a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning to keep it ticking away properly and reduce nighttime tossing and turning and groggy mornings.
4. You Haven’t Optimized Your Sleep Space.
The conditions in your bedroom can have a big impact on your ability to fall asleep. If your room is not completely dark, invest in blackout curtains or wear a silk sleep mask to bed. Do sounds from outside or inside your home keep you up at night? Try a white noise machine or playing soft, soothing music. Studies have found that temperature also affects the body’s ability to ease into sleep. The optimal sleep temperature has been shown to be roughly 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. You’re Not Exercising (Or Exercising Too Late).
Regular physical activity is important for more than just your weight and your heart health. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep. Researchers think that it’s because working out lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Some people find that if they exercise too close to bed, it takes them some time to settle down and fall asleep. Try to give yourself at least an hour to relax after your workout before turning in for the night.
If none of these reasons seem to apply to you, consider talking to your doctor about your sleeplessness situation. Together, you can explore other possible causes and find a solution.