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Why Can't I Sleep? Here are 10 Surprising Causes

You’re laying snug and cozy in your bed, you feel like you can’t collect and put your thoughts in place. You’re tired and your eyelids are shutting slowly. Still, you’ve tried everything, from imagining yourself on the beautiful beach to counting sheep. Even changing positions didn’t help. You asked yourself “Why can’t I sleep,” but there was no answer in the silent darkness. Don’t worry, we may have found the reason behind your insomnia, read on.

There are a lot of research studies for insomnia. All of them concluded that the causes behind insomnia in adolescents and adults are unknown. This article cracks down both common and unexplored reasons behind your inability to sleep and offers insightful tips to sleep peacefully again.

Can’t Sleep? Here are 10 Surprising Causes

1. Your diet

diet for sleepdiet for sleep

Food is the fuel that keeps us going throughout the day and gives us energy. However, if you give your car the wrong fuel it’ll likely break. The same goes for us. Insufficient nutrition may make you feel tired throughout the day, but too much-refined sugars and saturated food can make you stay awake at night.

The reason this happens is usually when we take a large carbs-rich meal just before bedtime. Our stomach, guts and the rest of metabolic functions activate, the heart pumps blood faster, sending signals to the brain to stay awake.

More: Best Foods to Eat Before Bed for Better Sleep

What can you do?

The answer is simple. Avoid eating large portions before the bedtime, don’t drink soda, alcohol or caffeine drinks. If you’re really hungry, make a light sandwich, eat a small cup of fruit or green vegetables. Drink a glass of fresh milk or a light tea.

2. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common chronic sleep disorder, especially in people who are overweight and obese. It manifests in a way that makes you stop breathing temporarily, ending up gasping for air, moaning or snoring. It’s more common for back and stomach sleepers. There are multiple studies where scientists find their connection to insomnia.

More: Are SIDS and Sleep Apnea Related?

What can you do?

While there is no known cure for sleep apnea, there are machines that you can get as well as surgery. However, in many cases that helped only temporary.

People who sleep on the side are less susceptible to developing sleep apnea. Still, there’s proven evidence that losing weight reduces the consequences of sleep apnea, and eventually minimalizes its effects until it disappears. A research from Harvard University reported that losing just 10% of your body mass led to obstructive sleep apnea disappear.

3. Your phone and screen time

Your phone and screen timeYour phone and screen time

Do you like checking the phone at night? Are you too consumed with work to the point you have to work until late hours? Well, we have bad news for you like the blue light emitted from a smartphone, laptop and tablet screens make your brain more awake and lead to insomnia. One research has shown that excessive screen time leads to developing insomnia and depressive behavior in adolescents.

Also, many apps from the phone still have fairly bright backgrounds and aren’t optimized for the night phone. That can be a huge dealbreaker especially for people using devices running older systems without the support.

What can you do?

To attain your healthy night rest back, you’ll have to put your phone away at least 30 minutes to two hours before sleep. Try reading a book, taking a bath, but don’t watch TV, play games or browse the internet. Using dark mode on several apps may reduce the impact of brightness and blue light from the phone, but it may still not suffice to help with your insomnia problems.

Another alternative to consider, if you work until late hours, is to buy glasses with a blue-light protective screen. They range in prices, however.

4. Too much caffeine


Coffee is a magical drink. It comes in various flavors and types. In some restaurants, it’s considered art because you can find so many specialties made of coffee, some you may’ve never heard of.

However, if you drink too much coffee, you may end up unable to sleep and that can be extremely messy if you have to wake up for work in the morning. The National Sleep Foundation proposes that not only is too much coffee responsible for insomnia, it also causes a headache, racing heart rate, migraine, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues.

Given it’s a stimulant and can be found in a dozen plant types, you can easily find it in cocoa, teas, nut kola and use it to wake up in the morning and remain energized. Still, it’s not recommended in large doses.

What can you do?

Reducing caffeine is the best way to prevent insomnia. You shouldn’t drink more than two cups of coffee and if you simply require the third one, try setting for a chocolate bar or a cup of tea. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should avoid caffeine at all costs and learn about the caffeine concentrations in different foods so you know how long to stay awake.

5. You’re overtired

overtired can't sleepovertired can't sleep

Have you ever felt so tired that you can’t even fall asleep anymore? It’s a common thing to happen when you’ve bulked yourself up with obligations and different tasks to complete. Sometimes you just can’t shake all the thoughts of your mind and meeting the requirements.

That can make you feel too tired to sleep. Scientists define something called sleep debt which happens when you receive less than seven to eight hours of sleep. The sleep debt constantly increases as you don’t sleep, forcing the body to release excess amounts of adrenaline to keep you awake.

What can you do?

Taking a breather would be the best way to overcome this problem and have an easier time falling asleep. However, if you have a busy lifestyle, you’ll constantly think about this, leading to more unslept nights. You can take a weekend off and have a long time sleeping, unwinding doing things you love and things that relax you.

6. Stress

Stress can't sleepStress can't sleep

Stress can completely disrupt your daily routine. It affects your mood, productivity, health and finally, it can keep you up at night. Stress is usually followed by anxiety that contributes to your eyes being wide open at night. Perhaps you’re anticipating something important, have a deadline to take on and simply can’t make it finish it all.

The more and deeper you think about all the obligations you have to do or anticipation, the more tired you’ll be but unable to sleep. The next day you’ll be unable to finish the mentioned obligations and end up in a loop.

What can you do?

People deal with stress and anxiety in different ways. Perhaps, having a to-do list and plan helps you finish your task before their time is up, avoiding staying up at night and worrying about those certain things.

Additionally, leave your worries at your work, don’t think about your problems when you come home but focus on self-care and my time.

Finally, try talking to your friends or family about what exactly bothers you. Perhaps if you let it down your shoulders, you’ll be able to sleep peacefully.

7. Restless leg syndrome

John Hopkins University conducted a study in 2013, which finds a relation between restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and chemicals in the brain. But what is the restless leg syndrome? It’s a condition that causes twitches, numbness, and discomfort in the legs. Interestingly, most of the time it happens when you’re headed to bed. Focusing on the pain and discomfort can lead to insomnia. In the longer run, RLS can result in serious conditions like depression.

What can you do?

Even though the real cause behind RLS is still unknown, the good news is that it can mostly be treated at home, with what you have at home. Usually, it can be a result of a change in the medication or drug abuse that leads to such weird activity at night. Some of the home remedies include taking a comfy and warm bath before bedtime.

You can also change your nutrition and start taking vitamins and minerals like B12, Zinc, and Iron. In more severe situations, a doctor will prescribe the proper medication to help this condition stop. For some, this may happen once in a few months, but other people may experience frequent episodes that can last anywhere from days to months with inadequate care.

8. You’re experiencing hormonal changes

For women, you may be experiencing fluctuating levels of reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. That happens either during a period or as you’re approaching perimenopause.

The activity of these hormones can affect your sleep. It’s important to note that both sexes can experience insomnia due to unstable hormones as a result of the underactive or overly active thyroid gland, as well as chemical activity and processes happening in the brain.

What can you do?

It’s important to note that this condition won’t always cause insomnia, you can get hot flashes or even wake up in the night from sweating and unable to fall back asleep.

Similarly like with many problems we outlined a hot bath may help, as well as taking vitamins. The final resort should still be visiting a doctor and seeing whether you can get medication to solve this problem.

9. You’re having allergic attacks

You probably didn’t think about this one. However, if you’re allergic to pollen, dander or dust mites and you have inadequate sleeping equipment you may end up sneezing and coughing a lot while your head will be a mess. Additionally, if you don’t clean and sanitize your room regularly, it will only make things worse.

What can you do?

The first thing you can do is get hypoallergenic sheets, covers, and pillows. On our website, we boast a large variety of different pillows and mattresses with Certi-PUR US certifications which also means they boast hypoallergenic materials.

Another thing you can do is clean your room and air whenever you can. Airing won’t only help you sleep, it’ll also help you breathe clean and fresh air.

10. There is too much noise

too much noisetoo much noise

Some people are overly sensitive, and that’s okay. Some people can hear the smallest noise outside, in the pipes, in the other room where someone is crunching on chips and crackers, as well as the arguing neighbors. Sometimes, it’s never quite enough and if you’re too tired, you’ll end up being irritated. There’s simply nothing good in that.

What can you do?

While your super-hearing abilities aren’t considered a virtue during bedtime there are ways to improve them. Some options include using white noise machines(See the best seller) with different frequencies and presets. Additionally, you can use earplugs(See the best seller). They’re quite accessible and affordable, especially on Amazon.

Other things to consider

We’ve exhausted nearly all possibilities, but we reserved these small sections to educate you about additional causes of why can’t you sleep. The reason we didn’t outline them in more detail is that they likely require professional help and there’s no universal home remedy.

Most of the reasons above may be a response to acute insomnia which can last from one night to one week. In a more serious situation, you may develop chronic insomnia that will keep you restless for a long time and requires professional help and even stronger medication. Alternatively, you may have depression, which also requires a professional and serious approach as above mentioned solutions may only be short-term.

When you want to polish your sleep hygiene and you see that you have trouble falling asleep, get up and take a walk across the apartment. If you don’t feel tired, you may even take and read a book, or go to the balcony to take some fresh air. The only important thing to do is not run after your phone or TV.

And remember, if you feel that your problems with falling asleep are becoming chronic, look after help. There is a lot of professional welcoming you and ready to solve your problems.