Reasons Why You May Be Struggling to Sleep

You might remember a time when you could drift off to sleep in an instant and remain in a state of blissful slumber until past lunchtime the next day. Now your sleep may be lighter and more fitful, and when you wake up in the morning you might not always feel as refreshed.


There are many causes of poor sleep, from menopause to the quality of your diet. It’s important to address these issues. A lack of sleep does more than make you drowsy. Chronic insomnia has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.


Aside from this, it’s important that you regularly check your medicine cabinet. Some medicines, including corticosteroids, beta blockers, cold and flu remedies, and certain antidepressants can interfere with sleep.


Sleep apnoea probably makes you think of the stereotypical overweight individual who snores, but women of any size can also develop these repeated pauses in breathing while they sleep. Anyone who has a narrow jaw or a change in muscle tone can get apnoea. Either of these issues can block oxygen from reaching your lungs (and subsequently the rest of your body) while you sleep. Snoring might not be your main symptom if you do have sleep apnoea, but you will notice that you’re especially sleepy during the day.

You may be able to relieve apnoea with a few lifestyle adjustments, such as sleeping on your side or losing weight.


  • Diet

What you eat can affect your sleep. Spicy foods can contribute to painful heartburn which may keep you up at night. Big meals can leave you uncomfortably full, and over time can contribute to obesity—a well-known risk factor for sleep apnoea.

Too much caffeine can also keep you awake at night, even if you finish your coffee in the morning. It can take up to six hours to clear half of the caffeine from your body.

Though a glass of wine or two with dinner will make you feel relaxed or even sleepy, it won’t help you sleep. You can fall asleep, but once you’re asleep you can’t sleep deeply.

Try eating dinner at least a couple of hours before bedtime and keep the meal light. Avoid spicy, fatty foods, as well as alcohol and caffeine. Also, don’t drink too many fluids before bed. Having to constantly get up to go to the toilet can disrupt your sleep, too.


  • Lack of exercise

Sleep and exercise complement each other. Working out regularly can help you sleep better, and conversely, you’re more likely to exercise if you get a good night’s rest.

Try to do some form of exercise every day if you can, ideally in the morning. Doing a high-energy aerobic routine too close to bedtime can have the opposite of the intended effect, making you too energized to sleep. A gentle yoga stretch before bed probably won’t hurt, though. It might even help you relax.


  • Pain

Arthritis aches or any other kinds of pain do not make for restful sleep. Conversely, a lack of sleep can increase your pain. Researchers believe that a lack of sleep may activate inflammatory pathways that exacerbate arthritis pain. Poor sleep can also make you more sensitive to the feeling of pain.

Try using a heating pad or taking a warm bath before bed to soothe achy joints or muscles. Lying against a body pillow can put you in a more comfortable position while you sleep.


  • Depression

Depression is a common compromiser of sleep, and it’s much more common in women than in men. Women who are depressed may sleep more than usual, but their sleep isn’t restful. Some antidepressants that are meant to counteract depression, particularly SSRIs, can also interfere with sleep.

See your GP for help, which may include medications, talk therapy, or both. If your antidepressant seems to be keeping you awake, ask your doctor to swap you to another medication.


It’s impossible to sleep when the weight of the day is pressing on you. Finding a sense of calm before bed isn’t easy—especially when you can’t unplug from the demands of your day.

It’s a good idea to establish wind-down time. Do a quiet, relaxing activity before bed that doesn’t involve a screen. Talk to a friend or family member or read a book. Just allow yourself to have quiet time.


  • Poor sleep habits

Sometimes insomnia stems from long ingrained behaviours, like staying up too late or engaging in stimulating activities before bed.

Follow a few basic sleep hygiene strategies. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and comfortable. If you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and leave the bedroom. Read or do another quiet activity for 15 to 20 minutes until you get sleepy.


If you’re having trouble sleeping and can’t find the cause or cure, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP. At Pall Mall, we offer private GP appointments click here for more information or call us on 03300 58 44 55.

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