Sleep is many things to people. To some, it’s a delight; there’s nothing in the world some people enjoy more than snoozing a day away. To others, sleep is an inconvenience; a necessary function that uses time they would rather spend immersed in tasks. For everyone else, sleep is not something they feel particularly passionate about… but they know they need it.
Sleep deprivation is dangerous. This is a known, established medical fact-- yet sometimes, sleep evades us. If you find yourself falling into a pattern of struggling to sleep, then how you feel about sleep as a general concept is irrelevant: you’ll soon feel the impact, and know that you need to do something to return yourself to a peaceful slumber.
Of course, doing this is easier said than done. You drop lavender essential oil on your pillow and try to relax yourself before going to bed; you do all the things people are meant to do to encourage sleep. Eventually, you may find yourself wondering why you’re struggling so much-- and that’s where this post comes in.
Below are 12 issues that can impact your sleep. Sleep is such a complex, delicate thing that it’s impossible to reduce down to a short list; so let’s try and be comprehensive. Check off the potential causes, one by one, until you find the culprit, and can then set yourself back on the path to restfulness.
#1 - Sleep apnea
What is it? A condition that causes you to stop breathing when you are asleep. For many people with sleep apnea, they wake multiple times in the night, and can find it difficult to get back to sleep. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include waking up feeling breathless, daytime tiredness, and experiencing regular headaches in the morning.
What should I do about it? You can ask your doctor for a sleep study. This will assess your breathing during your sleep. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are many treatments that can help.
#2 - Monthly cyclical hormonal changes
What is it? Hormonal changes during your monthly cycle can influence how well you sleep. Many women find that they experience insomnia during ovulation or right before their period, then they return to normal sleep patterns for the rest of the month.
What should I do about it? Monitor your sleeplessness and see if it falls into a cyclical pattern. You can use an app like Clue to help track your cycle and then compare the two diaries. If you find you consistently struggle with sleep during a particular part of your cycle, then you can alter your habits during the time you’re most likely to be affected. You could, for example, exercise more during the impacted days, so you are more likely to be tired.
#3 - Early or perimenopause
What is it? The same hormonal changes that occur during your monthly cycle can also make sleeplessness more common during early or perimenopause. Other symptoms include feeling hot, sweating excessively, and mood changes.
What should I do about it? See your doctor if you believe you have menopausal symptoms-- bear in mind that any woman, of any age, can go through the menopause. Your doctor will be able to run hormone tests and, if necessary, provide medication to help you control the symptoms.
#4 - Discomfort
What is it? If your bed or pillows are not comfortable, then there’s every chance that this small issue could be causing you to struggle to get to sleep.
What should I do about it? Switch your mattress and invest in new, supportive pillows. This might seem like a simple change, but it’s one that you should definitely consider-- sometimes, Occam’s Razor has the answer.
#5 - Blue light exposure
What is it? Blue light -- which is emitted by devices such as mobile phones, televisions, and even lightbulbs -- can interrupt our circadian rhythm. The blue light tells our mind that it’s still daytime, so the hormonal changes that allow for sleep are postponed.
What should I do about it? Don’t use any devices for at least two hours before going to bed. If you cannot avoid this, then orange blue-light-blocking sunglasses might not be the most fashionable thing to wear, but they can make a difference.
#6 - Thyroid problems
What is it? Both over and underactive thyroids can cause issues with sleeplessness, though it is more likely to occur with overactive thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism). Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include persistent thirst, a general feeling of agitation, sensitivity to heat, and mood swings.
What should I do about it? See your doctor if you fit the symptoms. They can run a blood test to determine whether you have thyroid problems; if so, there are a range of effective treatment options available.
#7 - Anxiety disorders
What is it? All anxiety disorders can cause problems with sleep due to the excess adrenaline they tend to create. If you have issues with anxiety, stress, or struggle to cope with unwanted unpleasant thoughts, then it’s worth investigating this as the cause.
What should I do about it? You can take the GAD-7 -- the standard test used for diagnosing anxiety disorders -- online. If you have a high score, then speak to your doctor; they will likely arrange either medication or therapy, and your sleep issues should be resolved.
#8 - You enjoy lie-ins on the weekend
What is it? Yes, it’s true; your beloved lie-in might be the cause of your sleep issues. Our bodies, and particularly our circadian rhythms, like stability. When we get up early during the week, our bodies change to adapt to this rhythm, but struggle to know how to cope when we lie-in during weekends. This can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, as your body is unable to develop a routine, and thus struggles to “switch off” for sleep at all.
What should I do about it? Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you do want to “catch up” on sleep over the weekends, it’s far better to get up as normal and then nap for around 30 minutes in the afternoon. This allows your body to establish its normal pattern, and still gives you a chance for a refreshing doze that won’t disturb your overall sleep habits.
#9 - Your bedroom is too quiet
What is it? Many people struggle with the absolute silence that tends to descend on a household at night. It keeps their mind alert and awake, because every sound that you do hear -- such as an owl hooting outside -- is amplified due to the lack of competing noise. As a result, your mind goes into overdrive, and you struggle to doze off.
What should I do about it? You can try white noise apps on your phone or a white noise machine that plugs into the mains. You may need to experiment with the different sounds to see what works for you; some people like whalesong, others do best with a basic white noise sound, so play around until you find what works for you.
#10 - Your bedroom is too hot
What is it? Our bodies need a cool environment when we’re trying to sleep. If you struggle with temperature control when in bed, then this alone could be enough to give you chronic insomnia.
What should I do about it? If you live in a generally-hot climate, then looking for an HVAC quote for an installation of air conditioning could be the best thing you do for your sleep, as these systems allow you to control the temperature of your room absolutely. Other options include sleeping in light, cotton clothing that allows skin to breathe or looking for a cool-gel cushion pillow.
#11 - It’s a full moon
What is it? Yes, full moons can influence your sleep patterns. Studies have found that it takes on average five minutes longer to get to sleep during a full moon, and overall sleep for the night is decreased by around 20 minutes.
What can I do about it? Sadly, not a lot, though being aware of what’s causing your occasional bouts of insomnia can at least put your mind at rest from worrying. As with hormone-related changes, it may be beneficial to exercise more during the full moon phase of the lunar cycle, in the hope that you’ll be more tired when you try to sleep.
#12 - You’re trying to sleep with your mind “full”
What is it? If you go right from your usual chores to bed, you’re going to struggle to sleep-- no matter how tired you are. Your mind needs time to relax from the day you have just experienced; if you don’t, you’ll find yourself wide awake, staring at the ceiling, and wondering why you can’t just switch off.
What can I do about it? Try to take 15 minutes before bed to sit quietly, meditate, or just do something soothing and simple like applying night creams-- you’ll be surprised how much of a difference this can make. Another method some find helpful is to take CDB oil, which helps reduced anxiety and helps the mind relax. While CBD can be ingested the reaction time is faster when you use a vape or dab rig to vaporize the oil. Take a look at these great dab rigs from SmokeSmith Gear and you will see that these water pipes are both elegant and affordable.
Hopefully, the source of your sleeplessness is listed above, allowing you to resolve the issue once and for all.