There’s really nothing worse than lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning, feeling beyond exhausted and yet unable to sleep. The more you try, the worse it gets – and before you know it you’ve been awake half the night, and now have to face the day feeling worn out and frustrated.
Take a deep breath. If this sounds like you, don’t worry – sleep problems are becoming increasingly common nowadays. Nearly 30% of adults suffer from insomnia: a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and be unable to go back to sleep.
Depending on the severity, this can last for days or weeks (chronic insomnia), sapping a person’s energy levels and mood, and negatively affecting their health, performance and quality of life. Lack of sleep can even increase your risk of disease.
Facts about insomnia
Here are some other things you may not know about insomnia/sleeplessness:
- People today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago.
- Women are more than twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men.
- Approximately 35% of insomniacs have a family history of insomnia.
- Stress/anxiety is the leading cause of insomnia in adults (more than 50%).
- People who suffer from sleep deprivation are 27% more likely to become overweight or obese.
Why can’t I sleep?
Insomnia can be caused by any number of physical, psychological or lifestyle factors – such as stress, medical conditions, life events or lifestyle habits which disrupt sleep.
Even if you don’t know the exact reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping, it can help for you to identify potential triggers and address them, so you can finally get some valuable zzz’s and kick feeling tired constantly.
Here are some possible reasons why you may be unable to sleep:
1. An overactive mind
Many poor sleepers often report having a “racing” mind – one that just won’t shut down. It’s one of the most common causes of insomnia. Racing thoughts are defined as “fast, repetitive thought patterns about a particular topic”, and may be a symptom of anxiety or stress.
2. Too many stimulants
Consuming stimulants like caffeine and nicotine just before bed can cause you to be unable to sleep – despite feeling sleepy. These stimulants will boost your energy levels, making it difficult for your mind to relax.
3. Intense exercise
Some people do recommend exercise to help you sleep better – but intense exercise right before bedtime can actually have the opposite effect on your body, making you feel more alert and energized..
4. Travel or work schedule
Frequent changes in your schedule (like travelling across time zones or working a late/early shift) can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms and throw off your internal clock, preventing you from sleeping at the proper time. This can leave you feeling exhausted and prone to daytime sleepiness. For our complete guide to avoiding jet lag, click here.