Always Have Trouble Falling Asleep? 10 Things Your Body Could Be Telling You
Do you find yourself tossing and turning before bed more often than not? There's no shortage of reasons people can struggle to fall asleep—even when they're exhausted. From stress to wonky schedules, we rounded up 10 potential reasons you can't fall asleep, plus what to do about each:
1. You're stressed out.
The deep and restorative sleep you've always dreamt about*
Nothing thwarts a good night's sleep quite like stress. It can cause your mind to race, your body to become tense, and your heartbeat to rev up—and none of these reactions are conducive to rest. If you know you've had a stressful day, try to give yourself plenty of time to calm down and consider a relaxing yoga flow or meditation before you get in bed. A sleep-supporting supplement like mbg's magnesium+ can also help calm an overactive mind and promote relaxation so you fall asleep faster (and stay asleep longer).*
2. You're hungry.
Contrary to popular belief, bedtime snacks can actually help support a good night's sleep. When our bodies run out of fuel during the night, it can release cortisol, which makes it hard to fall asleep. For a sleep-supporting snack, opt for foods rich in magnesium, like chickpeas, nuts and seeds, or a little dark chocolate.
3. Your bedroom is too hot.
Research shows when people's bedrooms are above 70 degrees, they're more prone to fitful sleep. As holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., previously explained to mbg that "in the outdoor conditions in which we evolved, the temperature drops at night. That drop is part of many contextual factors that cause us to feel sleepy." As such, "The optimal temperature for sleep is considered to be 65 degrees," she notes.
4. Your bedroom is too noisy.
Whether your partner is snoring, your cat is causing a ruckus, or your house is old and creaky, it doesn't take much to disturb you when you're struggling to sleep. If that sounds familiar, getting some comfortable earplugs to drone out the noise might be worth considering. Or, if white noise is more of your game, that can also help muffle out some of the noises that are keeping you up.
5. You were just using technology.
Bad news for the bedtime scrollers: It's probably not helping you fall asleep once you eventually put the phone down. Blue light has been found in research to mess with the body's natural circadian rhythm, as well as increase attention instead of sleepiness, neither of which is a good combo for bedtime. Even with blue-light-blocking glasses, your best bet is to put the phone away at least half an hour before bed and opt for something more relaxing instead.
6. You're overthinking bedtime.
Have you ever caught yourself saying you were going to "try" to get some sleep? According to board-certified sleep specialist Rafael Pelayo, M.D., "People who have sleep problems on a regular basis talk a certain way that nobody else talks. The phrase that you'll often hear people say is that they try to go to sleep." If that's you, he suggests reframing the way you view bedtime and sleep. (Here's how you can do just that.)
7. Your body isn't tired.
They say, "A tired dog is a happy dog"—and the same could be said for humans. There's something super rewarding about lying down at the end of a physically strenuous day, not to mention exercise is proven to improve sleep quality. On the other hand, if you're not getting enough movement, residual energy from the day might keep you awake. Long story short: Make it a priority to get some movement every day, even if it's just a walk around the block after dinner.
8. You drank too much water before bed.
Hydration is essential; don't get us wrong. But how many times have you been all cozied up when you realize you have to go to the bathroom? Whether you want to or not, if you don't get up right then, you'll have to in the middle of the night. As such, urologist Vannita Simma-Chiang, M.D., actually recommends taking your last sip of the day three to four hours before bed. If you do go for your glass after then, remember to go before you lie down for bed, and you should be A-OK.
9. You're not giving yourself enough time to wind down.
Believe it or not, some people need up to two hours to wind down. Yes, two whole hours. And of course, what you do during that time matters, too. Watching a stimulating movie or doing intense exercise, of course, is not winding down, nor is scrolling on your devices. Figure out just how long you need to get settled in, and use that time to truly relax. By the time your head hits the pillow, your body and mind will be ready to snooze.
10. Your sleep schedule is inconsistent.
And lastly, while it's important to get enough sleep every night, it's equally important to have a consistent sleep schedule (one in which you wake up and go to bed around the same time every day). Your circadian rhythm controls your sleep-wake cycle, and if it's out of whack from an inconsistent sleep schedule, your body simply won't know when to go into rest mode. As best you can, try to set a bedtime (and wake-up time) every single day, even on the weekends—and stick with it.