There are many reasons why I can’t sleep, and if you’re reading this I bet you can relate. You want to sleep! Anything, just to sleep! But this article isn’t only for commiserating. Let’s get you hooked up with Wynken, Blynken and Nod!
THE ABC’S OF CATCHING Z’S
As I hope you already know — you need sleep. Maybe more than you even realize. So if you’ve been bragging about how little sleep you need, it’s time to reconsider.
Here are just a few reasons you need that shut eye:
- Energy Conservation. Your body needs sleep to conserve energy. Sleeping lets your body reduce its caloric needs by functioning at a lower metabolism.
- Cellular Restoration. Sleep give your cells time to repair and regrow. Many important processes happen when you sleep, including muscle repair, protein synthesis, tissue growth and hormone release. (Learn more at Healthline).
- Brain Function. Sleep offers your neurons the occasion to reorganize. According to scientists, sleep gives life to the following brain functions: learning, memory, decision-making / problem solving, creativity, focus and concentration.
- Emotional Well-Being. While you sleep, your brain activity increases in areas that regulate emotion — specifically the amygdala. This area of your brain manages responses to fear and anxiety. Without proper rest the amygdala is on high alert even when there are no real threats.
- Weight Maintenance. Sleep affects your weight by regulating hunger hormones. These hormones include ghrelin (which increases appetite) and leptin (which increases feeling of “fullness” after eating). Lack of sleep elevates the former and suppresses the latter. Not a great combination if you’re trying to shed extra pounds.
- Immunity. As you slumber, your body makes proteins that fight infection and inflammation, while simultaneously producing antibodies and immunity cells. Together, these molecules combat disease by zapping harmful germs.
- Heart Health. Though more research is still needed, scientists have noted a link between sleep deprivation and heart disease. (Learn more at CDC.com). So conversely, a good night’s sleep can help your heart!
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Let me pause here, because there is something you need to know. You are not alone.
The scariest, most despairing place to feel is completely alone. Sometimes your brain is the loneliest place. When the hours tick by without sleep’s reprieve, negative thoughts come out to play.
But, you are not alone. Millions of people, my self included, suffer from sleeplessness. And I’ll be frank — my first battle with suicidal thoughts occurred during a bout of insomnia fifteen years ago. This experience is not uncommon.
Sleep deprivation messes with your head, your heart, and your spirit. If you’re going through it and fantasizing about death, please talk to somebody right NOW (click here — don’t delay).
There is no shame in what you’re going through. There is no shame in reaching out for help. Do you feel weak? Welcome to humanity! Anyone who claims they’ve never felt this is a fraud. In fact, you may be — right now — on the precipice of something surprisingly incredible. Brokenness has a way of opening the soul to truth in ways nothing else can.
YOUR DIVINE COMPANION
Meet the One who has been waiting for you. He knows your pain intimately. He lived it, here on earth. God, the One who flung the stars into space, also suffered sleeplessness and emotional distress.
That night before His crucifixion, Jesus — God in the flesh — sweat drops of blood. Do you think this is religious nonsense? Then here’s the science, if you care to inquire. This Jesus loves in a way you’ve never experienced. And love cost Him — EVERYTHING. He is near you right now, wherever you may be.
God is not a crutch, my friend. He is the reason you are here. If you’ve reached the end of your rope and are dangling above the pit of despair, cry out to Him. For God’s sake, don’t let pride stop you.
To join me on a spiritual journey, meeting with the One Who Loves You Most, click here. You can return to sleep remedies later.
WHY I CAN’T SLEEP (SOMETIMES) — AND REMEDIES THAT WORK
So why can’t you sleep? Here are my answers, all from personal experience. Knowing the cause of your restless nights can help in finding the remedy. Consider which of the following points resonate with you:
- Worry / Anxiety. Of course. Trying to problem-solve or worst-case-scenario in the middle of the night isn’t sleep-friendly. If this is your cause, I deeply relate. Counseling or talking things through with someone who loves you can help. Talk to your doctor about sleep medication if nothing else brings relief. Sometimes the drugs are necessary — at least for the moment, until you find some equilibrium.
- Your room isn’t dark enough. This may seem like ‘duh!’ but there’s a lot you can do to create a restful environment. Keep your bedroom for sleeping — don’t do computer work while sitting in bed, if you can help it. Try to associate the comfy bed with sleep. Make it a rest space only. Consider adding some aromatherapy or free music crafted to calm and sooth your brain.
- Hormone changes! Especially menopause . . . Ladies. Talk to your doctor about this. There are certain supplements or even medications that may help you.
- The temperature is too warm. It’s true that keeping it cool helps the body hibernate. See what you can do about that.
- Drinking alcohol too late. Or caffeine! Your body may be more sensitive to these substances than you realize. Or, you might not thing there’s caffeine in something when their actually is. Read labels to be sure. Honestly, I can’t even drink caffeine in the morning any more. It’s decaf all the way, baby! My coffee doesn’t taste as good, but at least I no longer get “the jangles”.
WHY I CAN’T SLEEP — CLOCK WATCHING & CELLPHONE SCROLLING
Number 6 deserves its very own paragraph. This is a big one, thanks to those pesky smartphones, and it’s been my latest struggle. Please learn from my mistakes and consider charging yours somewhere that’s NOT next to your bed. I can’t tell you how disruptive it’s been for me. After trusting this device to wake me with gentle melodies for years, I just can’t do it anymore. Oh, the alarm feature is great — it’s just that I lack self-control whilst counting sheep. Sheep don’t cut it for me. Nope. I need to scroll and search Google for answers to life’s most random and mindless questions.
So here’s my solution and it has worked flawlessly from day one — a battery powered analog alarm clock! This picture shows the exact one I use.
Dear friends and fellow Sleep-Seekers, this has helped me so much. I no longer compulsively check my phone at night when ideas for random internet searches come to mind. When I can’t get to sleep, I don’t clock-watch or Google-surf anymore! My smartphone is in the other room, where it should be, charging.
If you want to follow suit and reap the benefits of this cute, simple, non-ticking (Yes!!) clock, click the image and purchase yours on Amazon today.
IT’S TIME TO SLEEP — YOUR GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL HELP
This is by no means an exhaustive article on sleep disruptions and remedies. There are many more causes for insomnia, and the Mayo Clinic offers a more in depth evaluation, including practical resources at your fingertips. I am no expert, but I do know what has worked for me. Currently sleep is coming along pretty nicely, though my schedule is far from regular. There’s always room for healthier choices. Just be kind to yourself. Try not to overthink this (which is easier said than done when it’s 3AM and you have to get up at 8). Meditation and prayer can also help, if you’re looking for a way to unwind before bedtime.
Above all, give yourself some space. Your insomnia might be heightened by running too long in the fast lane. What are you trying to prove? Whatever it is, it’s at the expensive of your health. It’s hard to slow down when everyone around you is pushing for more. Learn to say “no”.
I wish you all the best as you drift towards those restful clouds of Slumberland. As always, I welcome your questions and comments below. — Ali 🙂
“It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so God gives His beloved sleep.”
Psalm 127:2 (CEB)