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I Can’t Sleep: Are These Some Of The Reasons You Can’t Either?

I can't sleep
Image by you me under license CC 2.0

I Can’t Sleep – This Is New For Me

I am a total zombie today. As in as bad as when I had a newborn baby level tired. It really sucks. I can’t sleep at the moment, and I am absolutely exhausted!

It’s kind of ironic though, don’t you think? Here I am writing a website which has helping people get a great sleep as its core mission. I know all about what makes a nice comfortable bed and good sleep hygiene. I know why sleep is so important. Yet look at me right now!

Usually I sleep great. My husband is always jealous of how quickly I fall asleep. But the last couple of nights, I have been lying in bed awake for hours. Last night I even got up again at 1:30 am and watched TV until around 3, when I took myself back to bed.

I’ve been really racking my brain trying to figure out exactly what has caused this sleeplessness, and I thought I’d share with you some of the reasons why I might not be sleeping as well as usual and exactly what I am going to try to do to improve my sleep over the coming nights. Sleep is a big priority for me, as a mom to two kids under three, running the house and trying to keep this website awesome. Hopefully you find something you can try or learn for yourself in this post.

Why I Can’t Sleep: I Suspect These Four Reasons

Before I get into what the reasons could be, I’ll say that it’s probably not just one of them. How well we sleep depends on so many different factors, so it is more than likely it is a culmination of things that has led to this change in sleep for me. It’s probably going to take more than one change to fix things. This will probably be the case for you, too. Like most things in life, I don’t think there is going to be one quick easy fix. There may be other reasons you can’t sleep. I will write another post on insomnia to cover those. I am just writing about my personal experiences right now, and you may identify with one or some of them.

1. Increased anxiety

My husband is an electrician, and he has a beautifully kitted out van which does not fit in our garage. It is therefore parked on our driveway in view of the street. A few nights ago, while I was home alone with the kids, someone broke into his van and stole quite a lot of his equipment. This was horrible on many levels, but what has really taken me by surprise is the nervousness I have started feeling at night. It was horrible knowing someone had come onto our property to steal from us. We worried they would come back. My husband has some security camera footage of the break in happening, and watching it creeped me out. So I’m feeling anxious and nervous at night and thoughts of this incident run through my head when I try to sleep. I think this is the biggest cause of my sleeplessness right now.

What can I do about it?

I have had to deal with anxiety before. I will return to the techniques that help me calm my mind, which should help me get better sleep. For me, these are:

  • Meditation. I use a great app called Headspace, which can guide you through meditations for all sorts of things. I really like the anxiety course, and there are some great sleep meditations there too. You can try it for free if you like, click here. That’s not an affiliate link, just a helpful one.
  • Time. I know that acknowledging how I feel and just letting it be, rather than trying to suppress the feeling, will mean that for me the anxiety associated with it will decrease with time.
  • Gratitude journal. I will try to get back into the habit of quickly jotting down three things I’ve been grateful for during the day. I find this creates a more positive mindset, which overall leaves less room for unwanted thoughts.
i can't sleep
Hopefully these dark circle eyes will go soon

2. Reduced exercise

Exercise is great for our body and mind, and research clearly shows a link between exercise and better sleep. Usually I exercise every three days out of four: I do a high intensity interval training session at home or I go for a run. Last week I twisted my ankle quite badly while running and had to hobble home. I had twisted the same ankle the same way a couple of months previously and I haven’t been able to do any significant weight bearing, which has ruled out my usual exercise formats.

What can I do about it?

  • Rehab my ankle. I want to prevent this injury from happening again and be able to do the exercise I love in the long term, so I’ve seen a physiotherapist and got guidance on how to look after it. I’ve got the all clear to start running again next week, whoop!
  • Try some other forms of exercise that won’t aggravate the injury. These include cycling and swimming for me. But honestly, I have not done them. So that is my own fault. I could use the excuse that it is difficult to get away from the kids to do them, but I get away from the kids to run, so it doesn’t really wash.

3. Screen time late at night

I don’t get much time to work on this site during the day, and I barely pick up my phone. That means that as soon as my two boys are in bed, I’m scrolling through my phone and working on the computer right up until I go to bed. This article from Harvard gives a good explanation of how looking at screens before going to sleep affects us.

What can I do about it?

  • I need to put down my phone! I will admit I love to look at Facebook and Instagram. I think I will initiate a rule for myself in which I am allowed to look at my phone for 15 minutes after the kids go to bed, and then put it away for the night. This will also help me be more productive in getting great content here to you on this website. Phones are such time wasters for me!
  • I will find it hard to reduce the time in front of the computer screen at night. I work on the site as much as possible during the day at nap time, but really, my guaranteed times for uninterrupted research and writing are in the evenings. So I’m hoping that by working on some of the other reasons why I can’t sleep, I won’t have to worry about this one. It may be that I need to investigate a screen protector or some glasses to filter the type of light I am exposed to from the screen. If I do, I’ll review them for you.

4. Caffeinated beverages too late in the day

Coffee. I love my coffee. We have a machine which makes a great coffee, and I drink two per day: one in the morning when I get up, and the other when the kids have their afternoon nap. It’s like a treat. I also like to drink tea, and some herbal teas, which I have been known to drink well  into the evening. I think between the coffee after lunch and a tea or two after that, I’m putting too much caffeine into my system at the wrong time of day and interrupting my ability to go to sleep.

What can I do about it?

  • Since I love my two coffees so much, I will try to have both before lunch time.
  • I will make my nap time coffee a decaffeinated coffee.
  • I will try to make sure that any hot drinks I have after my decaf are a caffeine free herbal tea. There are some great sleepy tea blends out there, perhaps it time for me to investigate those a bit more.

Do any of those things resonate with you? I can see from writing these all down that I have some work to do to improve my sleep. If you’ve had problems with sleeping before and found a way to improve things for yourself, please let me know in the comments. It would be so great to hear what worked for you, and you may just help some of my other readers, too.