6 common causes of poor sleep and how to fix them naturally.
“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald was on to something. If you regularly find yourself lying awake in bed begging for sleep to come, you know just how frustrating insomnia can be. And you’re likely ready to try anything that will help.
Sure, sleeping aids are a fast-acting solution when you just need some shut-eye. But they don’t address the root cause of your sleep issues, they’re not suitable for long-term use, and they come with a host of unwanted side effects.
Thankfully, there are many natural ways you can overcome the roadblocks to a great night’s sleep. Read on to learn a few of the most common reasons people struggle to sleep and what you can do to reclaim your well-deserved rest!
6 Common Causes of Poor Sleep – And How to Fix Them Naturally
Here are 6 sneaky culprits that could be preventing you from getting the rest you need, along with our best tips for overcoming them:
1. Your bedroom environment is too stimulating.
Does your bedroom feel restful the moment you walk in? If not, it could be because you’re using your bedroom as a part-time spare room.
Unfortunately, non-bedroom items like books, papers, computers, tech, cables and wires, dirty clothes, and other non-bedroom essentials can make your bedroom feel less like a safe haven and more like a walk-in to-do list. These items stimulate your brain subconsciously, which can keep you in alert mode even when you’re trying to slip into sleep.
Other factors like light, noise, temperature and the quality of your mattress and pillows can also have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Create a bedroom oasis.
If your bedroom is home to work-related materials, electronics, miscellaneous storage boxes, or piles of paper, it’s time to do a spring clean. Relocate what you can to other rooms and remove any unnecessary distractions. Ideally, everything in your bedroom would make you feel relaxed and at ease.
2. Your diet does not promote healthy sleep.
We know that eating a healthy diet helps us avoid chronic issues like heart disease and diabetes. But did you know that you can eat for sleep, too?
Certain foods can set you up for a great night’s sleep, while others can sabotage it. Some studies suggest that high-carb and high-glycemic-index foods may lead to nighttime blood sugar surges that interfere with sleep patterns. Eating meals high in fat before bed can also prolong digestion and make it harder to get into restorative REM sleep.
Heartburn (often due to overly spicy or acidic foods) is a common cause of sleep issues because the acids in the stomach spill up into the esophagus and cause pain when we lay down to sleep.
Not only does what you eat matter but how and when you eat. Studies show that eating too close to bedtime is linked with sleep disturbances. Also, not chewing your food properly or eating in a rush can lead to indigestion, upset stomach, and nausea when you lay down for bed.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Cook and eat for restful sleep.
Creating a healthy diet that’s right for you is essential to getting the restful sleep you need. Try to keep your dinners balanced, packed with nutrients, and light. Eat at least 3 hours before you plan to hit the hay so your body has plenty of time to digest.
3. You’re self-medicating with caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol.
If you rely on caffeine, nicotine, or sugar to get through the day, you could find yourself wired by night. These stimulants make you feel alert for hours, interfering with your natural sleep-wake cycle. You then struggle to fall asleep, get fewer hours of rest than necessary, and wake up feeling exhausted. The vicious cycle continues.
It’s not just stimulants that can negatively affect your sleep. An alcoholic nightcap may lull you to sleep, it negatively affects the quality of your sleep and leads to grogginess and lack of focus come morning.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Create healthier habits for energy and relaxation.
Whether you want to reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, or quit them all together, there are healthier habits that can help you feel energized during the day and relaxed at night.
During the day, try switching from coffee to a natural energy-boosting drink like green tea, matcha, or even mushroom lattes. Medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane are known for improving cognitive function and can keep you energized and focused without keeping you up at night. If you can’t skip your morning coffee, try to reduce your intake and have your last cup before noon.
In the evening, trade the cocktail for a soothing tea. Chamomile is the classic before-bed remedy, but other teas (like passionflower and lemon balm) also promote healthy sleep.
4. You’re using your computer, phone, or TV before bed.
Are you one of the one in four people who bring their phones to bed with them? If so, it could be one of the causes of your poor sleep.
Studies show that using your devices before bed significantly interferes with healthy sleep. Blue light and mental stimulation from our phones, computers, and TVs suppress our natural production of melatonin – a hormone necessary for shifting your brain into sleep mode and regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Instead of feeling tired and relaxed, we’re left tossing and turning with restlessness.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Create a screen-free evening routine.
There’s a time and place for indulging your desire to scroll – but right before bed is not it! Instead, create a nighttime routine that helps your nervous system transition to rest and digest.
The best evening routines are ones that make you feel comfortable and relaxed. An Epsom salt bath, yin yoga, relaxing skincare routine, meditating, or even reading an enjoyable book can help shift your mind out of alert mode and into rest mode.
5. Chronic pain keeps you awake.
Sometimes the root of sleep issues isn’t your hormones or sleep cycles at all. Chronic nighttime pain is one of the leading causes of insomnia and disturbed sleep.
Studies show that 50-80% of those who have chronic pain conditions also experience issues with insomnia and frequent waking during the night. Unfortunately, this lack of sleep can amplify pain signals and make healing chronic pain and tissue damage more challenging.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Manage pain (and insomnia) with acupuncture.
Chronic pain can be tricky to treat, but you can get back to normal faster when you use acupuncture.
At Moringa Natural Health Center, we combine acupuncture and biopuncture with diet, supplements, and lifestyle recommendations that target the root of your chronic pain. First, we correct the imbalance, then we restore healthy function, and finally, we maintain your results and prevent future pain issues. Along the way, we also help calm the nervous system and encourage better, longer, more restful sleep.
6. Unmanaged stress or anxiety steals your slumber.
It’s not easy to fall asleep when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Unfortunately, for the millions of people who struggle with chronic stress and anxiety, this makes getting to sleep – and getting the much-needed rest we need for emotional balance – a true challenge.
Studies show that high sleep reactivity (difficulty falling or staying asleep) is both a cause and result of high stress and emotional imbalances. Ruminating over thoughts and worrying about the future are common issues that stimulate the brain and keep the nervous system in fight-or-flight mode even when we’re trying desperately to catch some zzzs.
Natural Sleep Remedy: Use mindfulness-based exercises before bed.
Mindfulness-based exercises can help you train your brain to sleep. Plus, they can help you overcome chronic stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life, too.
Reclaim Your Sleep, Restore Your Health
Sleep is one of the most precious and essential human functions, yet many of us (up to half of us, in fact) don’t get the quality sleep we need to thrive. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Moringa Natural Health Center, we’re here to help you pinpoint the root cause of your sleep issues and help you create a personalized wellness plan to overcome them.
Call 623-266-0059 or fill out this brief form to request an appointment today!
Dr. Lena Fernandez