It’s happening again – you can’t fall asleep. You’ve taken care of your responsibilities, you’ve taken a shower and climbed into bed. 2 hours later, you’re still in bed – wide awake and asking yourself the same question: “Why can’t I fall asleep?”.
Hygiene doesn’t just apply to your teeth and body, but also to those amazzzing 8 hours of sleep that you’re supposed to be getting every night. What’s that? You’re not getting 8 hours? Well, actually the majority of the world isn’t getting enough sleep either.
Considering sleep is important in cognitive tasks, mental health and overall well being, it’s important to really nail down a sleep schedule that works for you! Here’s 9 reasons why you may be having trouble falling asleep and advice to improve your nightly routine.
1. You can’t fall asleep because you don’t avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine at least 6 hours before bedtime
While most people know that caffeine should be avoided before sleep because of it’s energizing effects, the idea of a cigarette or nightcap before bed is still relatively common.
The concept behind a nightcap is that it will warm you up, helping you fall asleep faster. While that may be true, it’s definitely no way to stay asleep. Alcohol before bed disrupts the quality of your sleep, leaving you feeling less refreshed and awake in the morning than you would have been if you had avoided the drink the night before. The same is true for smoking before bed.
Our advice: ditch the caffeine, nicotine and nicotine at least 6 hours before bed. If that’s too hard for you, consider decaf or limiting your overall caffeine intake. This tip will definitely help you fall and stay asleep.
2. You can’t fall asleep because your bedroom is too hot
Do you ever notice how you usually have a harder time falling asleep in the summer than in the winter? How it’s especially hard to get out of bed on a chilly winter morning? Well, you can use that to your advantage! One way to improve your ability to fall and stay asleep is to turn down your thermostat. Keep your bedroom relatively cool – between 60-70°F (15-21°C).
3. You can’t fall asleep because your bedroom is too busy
No, not that type of busy. Although that is a good kind of busy *wink wink*. If there’s too much movement in your bedroom (think pets, objects) or if it’s too loud, you’ll have a hard time catching some Z’s.
- If you have pets that wake you up in the middle of the night, consider leaving them outside of your room before bed.
- Consider wearing earplugs to block out any outside noise.
- Close your curtains or wear a night mask to block out light, which is a powerful cue that will tell your brain to “wake-up”.
4. You can’t fall asleep because you’re too stressed
Too much stress can put your body in a stimulated state, making it hard to fall asleep. Put a soothing pre-sleep routine in place – Watch some videos, read a book or meditate. Maybe get busy. The important thing is to avoid any stressful situations – business calls, work, emotionally intense topics. If you have a tendency to take problems to bed, write them down!
5. You can’t fall asleep because you don’t exercise
Exercise has too many health benefits to count – lowers your risk of disease, improves mood, self-confidence, improves cognitive performance. But, exercising earlier in the day will actually help you sleep better.
While it’s not known exactly how exercise improves your sleep, it is known that people who exercise tend to get more slow wave sleep – the stage in sleep where your brain and body recover.
Our advice: try to incorporate some moderate to intense physical activity into your schedule. Go for a jog, lift some weights, participate in a yoga class – anything. Not only will that make you healthier, but you’ll also sleep better!
6. You can’t fall asleep because you workout too late
Exercising earlier in the day – great! Exercising before bed – bad.
When you exercise early in the day, your body has a chance to dial down and get ready for sleep. On the flip side, exercising too close to bed can actually do the opposite. The Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep found notes:
- Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins. “These chemicals can create a level of activity in the brain that keeps some people awake. These individuals should exercise at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed, giving endorphin levels time to wash out and the brain time to wind down”
- Exercise also raises your core body temperature. “The effect of exercise in some people is like taking a hot shower that wakes you up in the morning. Elevation in core body temperature signals the body clock that it’s time to be awake. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature starts to fall. The decline helps to facilitate sleepiness.”
All in all, exercise is a great way to get more sleep, but not when it’s done too close to bedtime.
7. You can’t fall asleep because you use your phone before bed
The blue light from your cell phone screen has been shown to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Try to put your cell phone down at least 30 minutes before bed.
8. You can’t fall asleep because your mattress sucks
Most people don't think about what type of mattress they invest in. Honestly, who can blame them? Have you ever been to a mattress store? Pushy salesman, specifications that you can't understand and way too many options! Luckily, the huge burst in the "bed-in-a-box" industry now lets you bypass those stores. Companies like Casper, Purple, Tuft & Needle and Endy are all good options to consider for a better nights rest.
9. You can’t fall asleep because you don’t dress comfortably to bed!
Personally, anytime I've been too lazy to take off my socks before bed, I've always regretted it. Waking up at 3am to take them off because you're so damn uncomfortable is an awful feeling. Even worse - bad underwear. Good luck getting a good nights rest with some loose-fitting, ultra-riding, super-sweaty boxer briefs! The solution, invest in some awesome-quality underwear. Micromodal underwear is probably the best choice out there - more breathable and softer than cotton, but also environmentally friendly. You're also in luck - we put together a list of the best types men's underwear out there if you're not totally sold on how awesome boxer briefs are.
Considering the average person spends 229,961 hours (9,581 days) of their life asleep, it’s pretty important to make sure that that portion of our lives is well managed. Sleep is important in cognitive function, mental and physical health and overall well being, so we should be doing our best to improve it. Using these 9 tips, you can take your sleep to the next level. Happy snoozing!