‘Why can’t I sleep?’ It’s a question that usually hits you in the middle of the night, when you’re tossing, turning, and growing more and more frustrated that you’re still wide awake. (Is there anything worse?) You might have read all the sleep tips, listened to every calming podcast, and sipped a gallon of chamomile tea, but if you’re still not drifting off, it’s time to look at the possible causes of bad sleep.
So, let us help. Discover 5 of the main reasons you’re not able to sleep, along with tips to help you change your night-time routine for the better…
The 5 main causes of bad sleep
1. Not taking the time to destress
Stress is one of the biggest factors in sleepless nights. Not only do those worried thoughts stop you from switching off, but they also cause your body to release chemicals that lead to muscle tension and increase your heart rate. We’re not about to tell you to ‘just stop stressing’, because it’s never as easy as that, but if there are ways you can fit in a wind-down session before bed, you may notice you feel more restful at night.
Life is busy enough, so start with small yet noticeable changes to your evening routine. For example, you could try some of the following tips:
Introduce a low-effort self-care routine. Something as tiny as spending an extra 5 minutes in the bath , or massaging in the CBD Muscle Balm helps to focus your mind on the moment. Really think about the steps you’re taking; the scent of eucalyptus in the CBD Muscle Balm, the textures of your skincare, and the minty-fresh taste of the Night-Time CBD Oil Drops.
Write down what’s worrying you before you go to bed as a way of compartmentalising stressful thoughts. It’s not foolproof, but some find it useful to vent on paper, then tell themselves ‘I’ll go back to that tomorrow’. Plus, when we’re stressed, we have a tendency to replay the same thoughts over and over. Putting them down on paper can feel like a release and help you process your feelings.
Read or listen to a book – preferably some kind of fiction. This is another great distraction technique that helps to coax your mind away from worried thoughts. You don’t want to pick a story that’s too gripping, or it could still keep you awake. Something gentle but engaging enough to stop you stressing is the key. Get on GoodReads and find your perfect book.
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2. Napping too much in the daytime
We love a nap as much as the next person, and they’re great for a pick-me-up, but nap too often or for too long, and you could throw off your nightly sleeping pattern. It’s recommended that you nap for no more than 20 minutes so you’ll be tired enough to drift off at night. Our brand ambassador (and self-professed lover of naps), Claudia Winkleman, has the tips you need to get the most from some quick shut-eye:
“I don’t like a really dark room or a duvet as this is genuinely confusing. Don’t make it night-time [when you nap]. You can be in broad daylight but just curl up,” she says. “If I need to be somewhere then I’ll set an alarm. I once was supposed to nap for 20 minutes but slept for a good hour. That can be discombobulating.” – Claudia Winkleman
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3. Drinking and eating just before bed
That afternoon cup of coffee could be your biggest bad sleep culprit, so if you’re struggling with restless nights, try to avoid any caffeine after 12pm. Make sure you’re not eating too close to bedtime too, as your body needs time to digest food, which may prevent it from relaxing into its most restful state. As a general rule, we recommend having your last meal or snack two hours before you head to bed. Try to keep your eating times consistent too; this is helpful in establishing a good sleep routine.
4. Exercising late in the evening
The one big benefit of afternoon or evening workouts is that feeling of fatigue. Once the initial cardio buzz has worn off, you start to feel drowsy and ready to get some rest. However, if you don’t time your exercise just right and you do it too close to bedtime, it could have the opposite effect. In short, your fitness regimen might leave you feeling overstimulated.
That’s why you should make sure you’re working out at least a few hours before you go to bed, so your body has time to ‘come down’ from its post-workout high. If you’re able, you could also look into switching up your gym routine. Morning or lunchtime sessions allow more time for your heart rate to regulate.
You don’t have to ditch night-time exercise entirely; you could also try some low-impact movement. At-home yoga is ideal, and there are a host of ‘yoga for sleep’ videos waiting for you on YouTube. They offer a sleep-friendly way of getting your daily workout in and they might just be relaxing enough to send you into a drowsy, restful state. Win-win.
5. Staying in bed when you can’t drift off
What do you do when you can’t get to sleep? Many of us just… well, lie there. And wait. And toss and turn. And grow increasingly frustrated. And then hours have passed us by. Sometimes, trying so hard to sleep can make rest even more elusive, and it may be better to get up and do something else until you start to feel drowsy. As long as that ‘something’ isn’t scrolling on your phone or – worse – getting your laptop out and doing work, sleepiness will come. That’s when you’ll be ready to head back to bed.