You’ve been looking forward to climbing into bed and falling asleep all day. As the day comes to a close, you brush your teeth, wash your face, and put on your pajamas. You turn off the lights and as soon as your head hits the pillow, you are wide awake. It’s as if the feelings of tiredness vanish immediately and falling asleep seems impossible. This is frustrating, to say the least, and it leaves you with one question: Why is this happening?
It is common to feel slightly wired when you should be winding down, according to neuroscientists. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to why that happens, though. If someone is a great sleeper, they probably fall asleep when they get into bed each night. The act of getting into bed triggers a response of sleepiness. If your nights tend to be restless and sleepless, though, the body tends to associate that behavior with climbing into bed.
Psychophysiological insomnia, as the experts call it, perpetuates a cycle of sleeplessness every night. In order to escape this cycle, many behavioral experts suggest cognitive behavioral therapy. The primary takeaway is that the bed is for sleeping, first and foremost. You can still, of course, have sex in bed, but it’s best to move other activities or actions elsewhere. No screen time or lying around aimlessly in bed. Re-train your brain and you may find that falling asleep is much easier. In the meantime, the following reasons may contribute to your restlessness as soon as you lay your head to rest.
Too Much Napping
Naps are not detrimental to your overall health. In fact, napping for the right amount of time can have several benefits. The wrong nap strategy, however, can ruin your nighttime Zzz’s. According to research, long naps or napping too late in the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Additionally, you may experience difficulty falling asleep, poor sleep, or you may wake up throughout the night. Keep your naps 20-30 minutes long and aim to nap before 3 p.m.
You’re Anxious Or Depressed
The link between mental health troubles and sleep troubles is very strong. Both anxiety and depression can induce feelings of fatigue or sluggishness, but they can also cause racing thoughts. An inability to quiet the mind can make it very difficult to fall asleep. Some studies suggest that sleep disturbance is a diagnostic symptom for some anxiety disorders. With anxiety, racing thoughts may relate to future concerns, while depressive thoughts may relate to past regrets. Either way, these thoughts keep you from falling asleep.
The Brain Equates Bed With Being Awake
The bed is a space for sleeping, but many people have additional nighttime activities that they do in bed. Some people spend late hours working in their bed, especially with the work-from-home craze that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Others watch TV or scroll through social media in bed, and these habits cause the brain to associate arousal with getting into bed. When you want to go to sleep, the brain becomes alert because that is what it’s used to.
Your Device Revs You Up
A quick check on the Gram or one last email before shuteye may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Using electronic devices within 30 minutes of bedtime leads to significantly poorer sleep quality, according to a 2021 study. The glow of the screen emits blue light, which can delay the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Reduced melatonin production can throw off the body’s internal clock and make it more difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable time.
People love their caffeinated beverages, almost too much at times. Consuming 200 milligrams of caffeine (about 16 ounces of coffee) six hours before bedtime can cut your sleep time by an hour. If you are more sensitive to caffeine, a 7:00 a.m. cup of coffee may make it difficult to fall asleep at night, according to a 2018 study. Some people also reach for an afternoon pick-me-up without thinking of afternoon consequences. Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, so drinking a cup 16 hours before bed can impact your sleep.