February 16, 2024

If you have trouble sleeping, you may be experiencing insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep long enough into the morning, and it causes disruptions in how you feel or function. An estimated 35 percent of adults are affected by this sleep disorder. There are a number of possible causes of insomnia and factors that can exacerbate it. Keep reading to find out the reasons why you may be having trouble sleeping at night.

1. Stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of individuals having trouble sleeping. You may be concerned about work, school, money, family, health, or other stressors. These concerns can keep your mind active at night, making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Going through stressful life events, including illness, death of a loved one, job loss, and divorce, can also cause insomnia.

2. Irregular Schedule

tired nurse working late

Your body has an internal clock, or circadian rhythm, that manages your sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, and metabolism. If your schedule is thrown off by something like traveling across time zones or changes in work shifts, these rhythms can be disrupted, causing you to have trouble sleeping. Constant changes can make it difficult for your internal clock to find a rhythm, which can lead to chronic insomnia.

3. Eating Too Much Before Bed

It’s okay to have a light snack before going to bed. However, eating too much too close to bedtime can cause trouble sleeping. A full stomach can make you feel uncomfortable while lying down, and many people suffer from heartburn as stomach acids backs up into the esophagus. These uncomfortable sensations can keep you awake when you try to fall asleep at night.

4. Poor Sleep Habits

woman eating, drinking, and watching TV in bed at night

Your body does best when it can function on a routine. Poor sleep habits that don’t follow a routine can disrupt your ability to sleep. Going to bed and waking up at different times each day as well as taking naps during the day can cause trouble sleeping at night. Other poor sleep habits include being too active before bedtime, having an uncomfortable sleep area, eating or watching TV in bed, and looking at screens right before bedtime.

5. Mental Health Disorders

Some mental health disorders can contribute to insomnia. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder all have the potential to cause you to have trouble sleeping. For example, a sign of depression may be waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep. It’s not uncommon to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder after seeking help with insomnia.

6. Sleep-Related Disorders

restless legs syndrome

There are certain sleep-related disorders that can cause trouble sleeping at night. Sleep apnea, for example, causes heavy snoring and even cuts off your breathing so you wake up many times throughout the night. Restless legs syndrome makes you feel a strong and uncomfortable urge to move your legs when trying to fall asleep, which can keep you from falling asleep at night.

7. Caffeine, Alcohol, or Nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants that can prevent you from falling asleep at night. Drinking things like coffee, soda, and tea can keep you up at night if you consume them in the late afternoon or evening, as can smoking or vaping. Alcohol is a depressant that may help you fall asleep, but it keeps you from experiencing stages of deep sleep and often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.

8. Medications

hand holding two white pills

Taking certain medications can cause you to have trouble sleeping at night. Prescription drugs such as antidepressants and medicines for blood pressure or asthma have been known to interfere with sleep. Some over-the-counter medications such as cold and allergy medicines, pain relief medications, and weight-loss products contain stimulants like caffeine, which can cause insomnia.

Tips to Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on how you feel and function during the day. It’s no fun to toss and turn all night long in hopes of getting some sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you can do to help you sleep better. Take a look at these tips to help you get a better night’s sleep so you can feel more well-rested when your alarm goes off in the morning.