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Why Can’t I Sleep Through The Night?

Why Can’t I Sleep Through The Night?

Tossing and turning at night, thinking “why can’t I sleep through the night?” can be miserable. And knowing you need to get up in only a few hours just makes matters worse. But how can you begin to do something about it if you don’t know what’s causing it?

If you cannot sleep at night, take a look at our advice. We’ll uncover some of the most common causes of waking up at night, so you can begin to understand your sleep issues and start working towards a solution.

Why don’t I sleep through the night?

Do you fall asleep instantly and then wake up at 3am fretting about everything you have to do at work, or that awkward conversation you need to have with the school? Or are you struggling to fall asleep in the first place?

Either way, by recognizing the pattern you may be able to pick up some clues about the likely cause. Different sleep patterns depend on the amount of sleep an individual needs, their age, health and lifestyle. And sleeplessness can be caused by many different things – it is never easy to answer the question, “why don’t I sleep through the night?”

Struggling to fall asleep

If you find that you go to bed at a reasonable time but then lie awake unable to drop off, have a think about these points. Do any of them sound familiar? Could they answer the big question, ‘why can’t I sleep through the night?’
  • Exercise in the evening: Exercising late in the evening is a common cause for sleeplessness as it gets the adrenaline pumping and increases your core body temperature, making it hard to unwind and reach the right temperature to drop off.
  • Common food triggers: Many people find that spicy foods such as curries, chilis and hot sauces can keep them awake. Garlic, citrus fruits, chocolate, cheese and sugary foods are some of the worst offenders. Eating rich foods or a heavy meal too close to bedtime can also cause heart burn and acid reflux leading to discomfort and difficulties getting comfortable. If this is you, try switching to foods that are easier on the stomach!
  • Caffeine: We all know that drinking caffeine too late in the day can stimulate the brain and prevent sleep – but watch out for hidden caffeine in fizzy drinks too.
  • Blue light from screens: Too much time spent staring at a TV, iPad or smart phone screen in the hour before bed may trick your brain into thinking it is daytime, delaying the onset of sleep. Try reading a book or listening to audio instead.

Waking in the middle of the night

What’s the secret to staying asleep all night? If you find yourself waking in the night for long periods, there could be many causes, both physical and mental. Here we explore four common reasons for not sleeping properly:

1. Are night sweats and overheating causes of waking up at night?

It’s very common to feel too hot in bed and to suffer from night sweats. If your body temperature is too high, you may wake up feeling damp, uncomfortable and unable to cool down. Night sweats are common in both men and women and could be caused by a range of things including:
  • A side effect from medications you are taking
  • Diabetes
  • Peri-menopause or menopause
  • Coughs, colds and low-grade fevers
  • Sleeping on a memory foam mattress
  • Synthetic bedding

2. Does comfortable bedding make a difference?

Sometimes the answer to, “why don’t I sleep through the night?” is simply, “Because you are not comfortable enough.” If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night with aches, pains or stiff joints, it could be down to your mattress or bedding.

Check your sleep posture and determine whether your mattress is supportive enough. Choosing bedding that can help to regulate your temperature, such as natural or wool bedding will also make a difference to how comfortable and well rested you feel.

3. Can stress wake you up at night?

If you have something on your mind, it is very common to find yourself awake, fretting about it in the middle of the night. Things always seem worse when you’re tired, and those thoughts whirling around your head in the quiet of night can seem positively thunderous.

4. Can you have trouble sleeping after drinking?

Like caffeine, alcohol acts as a stimulant for the brain, but it can also have the effect of making you drowsy in the short term, so you may find you fall into bed and sleep immediately, but end up wide awake and dehydrated during the night.

Now you’re clued up on big reasons for not sleeping properly

Next time you’re laying in bed asking yourself the question, “why can’t I sleep through the night?”, have a run through these points and see if you can work out what might be causing it. After all, understanding why it’s happening is the first step to doing something about it.

Looking for ideas to help you sleep better at night? Visit our Sleep Health & Advice hub for more tips and advice.